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Varsity hockey coach Bill Cleary, who describes himself as an eternal optimist, has every right to look forward to another good season, judging from the new and returning talent on this year's Crimson squad, which is ranked third in the nation in pre-season polls.
Cleary, starting his second year as head coach, guided last year's team to a 17-8-1 record and second place in the Ivy League behind Cornell. Fifteen lettermen are returning, and will be joined by a group of eight promising sophomores.
Most conspicuous of the returning veterans in the high-scoring "Local Line" of All-American center Dave Hynes, All-East forward Bob McManama and All-Ivy wing Bill Corkery. Last year the trio accounted for 148 of Harvard's 331 points. Hynes and McManama tied for the team scoring lead with 54 points each, while Corkery was second with 40 points.
Other familiar faces are forward Larry Desmond, Harry Reynolds, and Bob Goodenow. Desmond, a senior, was voted the recipient of last year's Angler Trophy as the most improved player.
An experienced defensive corps is led by captain Kevin Hampe. Doug Elliot, Mark Noonan, Levy Byrd, David Hands, Bob Muse and goaltenders Joe Bertagna and Steve Perry. Hampe and Eliot will again be paired as the top defenders. The other pairing is Noonan and Muse, while Hands will combine with sophomore Edward Rossi, the top scoring defenseman on last year's freshman squad, and Byrd will pair up with sophomore Steven Janicek, Bertagna will start in goal.
"The key to the season," Cleary said, "is going to be the play of the defense. No matter how many goals you score in a game. If the other team scores one more...well, you can figure out the rest." This season, it appears. Harvard has more depth and balance on-defense than it has seen in years.
In addition to a strong defense, Cleary's squad will also have a more balanced attack. "Last year we didn't have much to back up the 'Local Line'. This year we should have a little more offensive punch," he said.
That punch should come in the term of six sophomore forwards from last year's 16-2 freshman team. Frosh captain Randy Roth will play on a line with top Yardling scorer James Thomas and senior Bob Goddenow, while the freshman's fourth leading point-getter, Theodore Thorndike will combine with seniors Renolds and Desmond. The fourth line is an all-sophomore trio; Steven Dagdigan, David Gauthier and James McMahon.
Cleary is pleased with the way things have been going during the pre-season workouts. "I can't ever recall a better training period," he said. "You know it's tough seeing the same faces day in and day out, but the boys have given one thousand per cent every day. They're a really eager bunch."
The season opens this Saturday against a tough University of New Hampshire squad. The early season schedule will be rigorous, with games against Michigan, the Czechoslovakian National Team and Cornell looming shortly after Christmas. "But no matter what happens this season," Cleary said, "I think every team we play is going to know they've been in a game."
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