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Amidst the slobbering roar of a capacity crowd at McHugh Forum, Boston College's hockey team came off the ropes in the final period with four goals to send an erratic Harvard squad to its second consecutive one-goal loss, 6-5, last night.
The Crimson had all but put the Eagles away with a three-goal burst within five minutes of the second period, but sloppy backchecking and disorganized defensive work let the Eagles off the hook and back into the game.
The loss, which reduced Harvard's record to 3-2, also dropped it into a shaky fourth in unofficial ECAC standings, and confirmed what has been becoming more apparent with each game. Harvard must score heavily to compensate for its defensive mistakes, and its vulnerability to rough play can often stop it from doing so.
Almost from the first, the irritating deficiencies in the Crimson's style, which had hampered it in both the Northeastern and Brown contests, got Harvard into serious trouble. Twice in the first minute of play Eagle forwards poured into the Harvard end, let in by careless backchecking. And twice the Crimson's frustrating inability to clear the puck gave Boston College open shots on goaltender Bruce Durno that were just inches away from goals.
In addition, Harvard forwards, hampered by close B. C. coverage and unsettling body checks, had difficulty mounting any serious rush early in the game, and even when Steve Owen flipped a shot past Eagles goalie Jim Barton after six minutes of play, it did little to relieve the pressure.
At 17:01 B. C's Scott Godfrey took a pass from the left face-off circle and beat Durno from ten feet to tie the game, and the Eagles had the momentum again.
But Harvard came out flying for the second period, swarming all over a suddenly sluggish Eagle defense, Dan DeMichele split Barton's legs with a 30-foot slap shot to send Harvard ahead at 7:26, and after Eagle Tom Mellor tied it again 51 seconds later from a scramble. Harvard's Leif Rosemberger put a third goal past Barton at 18:17.
Owen scored his second goal two minutes later to put the Crimson ahead, 4-2, and Harvard seemed to be in fairly seemed to be in fairly secure control.
The Crimson maintained the advantage into the third period, but the Mellugh audience, anticipating the customary third-period. Eagle comeback, began to roar. Harvard began to lapse on defense again, allowing the Eagles to penetrate more and more deeply on each rush.
It was becoming obvious that Harvard's two-goal lead was almost meaningless in the light of its hang-on style, and another goal, while completely necessary, was going to be difficult to obtain.
The goal finally came, but only when it was almost too late to be effective. At 7:16 John Snyder beat Durno to narrow the margin to a goal, and two minutes later Eagle Tim Sheehy fed Charlie Toczylowski to tie the score.
It was now painfully apparent Harvard had fallen apart emotionally, if not physically. With the B. C. partisans creating intense, unending bedlam, Vin Shanley put the Eagles ahead at 12:44, and with three minutes remaining and Harvard's Chris Gurry in the penalty box for tripping. Sheehy made the score 6-4.
Realistically, Harvard still had a chance, but it was going to have to penetrate a six-man defensive aligument to score, pull its goalie, and somehow out a sixth shot past Barton in the final three minutes, just to send the game into overtime.
At 17:34, it happened. Sophomore wing Tom Paul slipped a puck between. Barton's pads and the left post to bring Harvard to within a goal, and at 18:44, Mellor was sent off for tripping DeMichele on a breakaway. Harvard had a man advantage, which soon became doubled when Durno was pulled in favor of a sixth skater with a minute remaining. But the Crimson substitute jumped onto the ice before Durno had fully entered the bench, and the ensuing penally nullified the Harvard advantage.
And as desperate Harvard forwards struggled with burly B. C. defensemen in the Eagle corners for possession, the last seconds ticked away to the accompaniment of a tumultuous roar that signaled Boston College's fifth consecutive victory, and its second straight over the Crimson.
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