Harvard hockey fans won't have to journey to the mecca of schoolboy hockey in Boston's 'combat zone' this year to watch the Crimson play Yale. Tonight's game has been moved from the scenic splendor of Boston Arena to the cozy confines of Watson Rink for an 8 p.m. face off.
This is the first time the Harvard-Yale game has been played in Watson Rink, due largely to slim crowds at the Arena. Even for the thrilling contest with Dukla Jihalva, Czechoslovakia's outstanding army team, not that many fans dared risk their worldly possesions to get to the Arena. No doubt fewer would want to take the chance just to see a perenially weak Eli squad.
Over the past couple of seasons Yale has stood a better chance of getting rat bite in the Arena locker room than of beating Harvard. Ironically, this year they have their best shot at downing the Crimson yet.
Yale hasn't won more than ten games since 1966-67, the last year it made the playoffs and its last winning season. This year's team is already 10-8-1 and needs only one more victory to insure a winning season.
The Eli squad is backboned by the play of sophomore goaltender Ken McKenzie and the first line of Bobby Kane centering Phil Clark and Frank Paveck, which has combined for 105 points on the year. Kane has 21 goals and 19 assists. Clark has 11 and 23, while Paveck has 31 points on 16 goals and 15 assists.
McKenzie sparkled in the nets against Cornell, making 44 saves in a game the Big Red eventually won 5-2. He has been chosen the ECAC's All-East goalie of the week three times this season. The fewest shots he has had to face came in the game against Princeton, when the hapless Tigers could only manage to fire on him 19 times.
Behind the front line and the goaltending, it's all downhill for Paul Lufkin's squad. The next leading scorer behind Paveck, Paul Craig, has only 17 points and he's a defenseman. To say the least, Yale lacks any considerable depth.
Harvard comes into tonight's game fresh from a scoring orgy at Princeton, where it routed the Bengals 13-2. The only change coach Cleary has made of late was to switch Jim Thomas and Bob McManama on the power play.
McKenzie could be the stumbling block for the Crimson tonight, much as Dave Elenbaas was in Harvard's first encounter with Cornell and as Peter Proulx proved to be the last time Dartmouth was in town.
Lufkin is cautiously optimistic about tonight's game. "It won't be easy," he said "but after losing six straight to Harvard, it's about time things turned around."