Harvard's hockey team will try to pick up some more pre-ECAC's momentum tonight, when it takes the road to face a 10-10-1 Brown team struggling to make the play-offs.
Brown presents slightly more of a threat than Harvard's last two victims. Princeton and Yale. Culminating a disastrous 2-8 first half season with a 3-1 loss to Harvard last January, the Bruins have reversed their fortunes with eight wins and a tie in their last eleven games.
Brown's opposition has not been too powerful, however, and back-to-back 3-2 overtime wins over such push overs as Princeton and Army serve to put some perspective on Brown's success.
Close games against good and bad teams have been a trade-mark of Brown teams over the last couple of years. This season. 10 of the Bruins' 21 games have been decided by one goal or resulted in a tie. The Bruins are equally capable of staying with Cornell, as they did in a 5-4 loss in December, or playing to the level of Division I cellar dwellers.
Brown's inability to blow lesser teams off the ice is partially attributable to the Bruins' inability to put the puck in the net.
Brown has scored more than four goals in only five games this season, while Harvard, despite a tougher schedule, has scored over four goals 13 times. Harvard has five players with over 20 points; Brown has one. Brown's top two scorers have half as many points as Harvard's Dave Hynes and Bob McManama.
Harvard has a substantial edge on paper, but there are several factors which should hold the score down, if not produce an upset. Harvard would like a convincing win to sustain its post-losing streak recovery, but Brown must win to have a shot at making the ECAC playoffs.
Furthermore, the Bruins will enjoy the considerable home ice advantage created by the rabid fans at Brown's Meehan Arena. A year ago, the Bruins physically intimidated a much better Harvard team and won, 3-2, much to the hysterical delight of the Brown crowd, which shares Penn's anti-Harvard neuroses.
The Bruins were 9-0 at home last year, with wins over both Cornell and Harvard, despite losing 10 games on the road. This year, the Bruins have won five of eight games at home, and two of their home ice losses came against B.U. and Cornell. Brown defeated both of Harvard's Ivy League conquerors. Dartmouth and Penn, at home.