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Undefeated since its loss to Cornell five weeks ago, Harvard's hockey team matches its brilliant sophomores against the Big Red's imposing goal-tending in a battle for a share of the Ivy League championship at 8 p.m. tonight at Watson Rink before what should be a capacity crowd.
Ivy League champions for the last three years, Cornell's powerful skaters are assured of at least a tie for the title this year. They are first in the ECAC standing with a 21-1 record, and top the Ivy teams with a 10-0 mark.
The Big Red needs only one victory in its last two games--Harvard and Princeton--to clinch first place, and a win over Harvard for undisputed possession of its fourth straight crown.
Harvard has not won an Ivy championship in six years, and has not defeated the Ithacans in three years. But this team, which has swept its last nine games to up its record to 16-4-1, stands a good chance of upsetting the seemingly invincible Cornell squad.
The chief stumbling block is All-American goal-tender Ken Dryden--the single most important reason for Cornell's success in the past three years. The 6-3, 210-pound Dryden is the East's top defender, averaging less than two goals allowed per game. If he is hot, Harvard's chances will be virtually nil.
The Crimson is a much different team from what it was when it lost to the Big Red, 8-4, in the first meeting. Terry Flaman has returned to action, bolstering an uncertain defensive corps and freeing George McManama for offensive play. The two veteran lines have started to score, taking the pressure off the sophomore line.
What has not changed is the performance of Harvard's spectacular sophomores--Joe Cavanagh, Dan DeMichele, and Steve Owen. The three forwards lead the team in scoring and Cavanagh in particular continues to be Harvard's greatest strength.
The sophomore center has scored 19 goals and assisted 36 others, but his talents range beyond his scoring. He sets up his two wings for scores, dictates the tempo of the play in crucial situations, and forces at least two or three penalties a game because of his elusiveness. He ranks behind Brian Cornell in scoring, but assistant coach Gene Kinasewich only concedes that "Cornell is in Cavanagh's class."
However, Terry Driscoll's loss of eligibility because of grades has forced a shake-up in the defensive pairs. Driscoll, declared ineligible after last Saturday's Yale game, had grown steadily into a solid partner for Dave Jones.
Coach Cooney Weiland said yesterday he will shift Flaman to the second tandem with Jones, and promote Skip Freeman to the first team with Chris Gurry.
Cornell's advantage will not be too great, since it too has lost one of its regulars. First-line center John Hughes, who had collected 47 points this season, fractured his arm against Brown last Saturday. His injury breaks up the Big Red's highest scoring line, which includes All-Ivies Brian Cornell--18 goals and 47 assists--and Pete Tufford--19 goals and 32 assists.
Coach Ned Harkness probably will not tamper with his two established lines, and will bring up instead one of the extra forwards. In that case, sophomore Brian McCutcheon and Bob Aitchison will team with junior Bob Giuliani on the second line, and Dick Bertrand, Bob McGuinn, and Garth Ryan make up an all-junior third line.
All-Ivy defenseman Bruce Pattison pairs with Dan Lodboa on the first team, and Ian Orr joins Gordon Lowe on the second tandem.
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