It's been nine long years. The '63 Harvard hockey team which featured the likes of defenseman Harry Howell and forwards Tim Taylor and Gene Kinasewich, was the last Crimson squad to capture the Ivy League title--that is, until last weekend.
Coach Billy Cleary's '74 team copped the crown in convincing fashion Saturday night in Watson Rink by trouncing Yale, 10-3, before an SRO crowd. The win boosted Harvard's overall record to 9-3, a game better than second place finishers Dartmouth (whose last Ivy title came in '64), and Cornell (which has held the honors for the past seven years), both with 8-4 slates.
The contest was billed as a rematch with Yale's phenomenal goaltender, junior Ken MacKenzie, who effectively thwarted the Crimson offense in New Haven in February, by saving 39 shots and leading the Elis to a 6-1 upset over Harvard.
Harvard, however, made a shambles of both the ragged Yale defense and MacKenzie as it fired 38 shots on the Eli net, with six succeeding, before MacKenzie was relieved of his duties midway through the third period. Replacement Gerry Stenson didn't fare any better, as he could save only five out of nine Crimson shots during the remaining ten minutes of the game.
The game was nearly clinched before a good many of the fans even reached their seats. Danny Bolduc set the tone of the evening for Yale with a pair of goals in the first minute of play. Bolduc cashed in on a Mark Noonan shot from the point at 29 seconds, and picked up his second exactly 20 seconds later with assists from linemates Randy Roth and Bob Goodenow.
The Crimson's Ed Rossi got his third goal of the season on a slapper from the point at 6:10 to make it 3-0.
At the other end of the ice, Harvard's goalie Jim Murray, who played two good games since the Yale loss, didn't have a very busy night. He was forced to make only 16 saves through two and a half periods.
Ever-hustling Jimmy Thomas made the score, 4-1, at 5:54 of the second on a hardwrist shot from the face-off circle for the only Harvard tally of the period. Yale's Gary Balzhiser put the Bulldogs on the board at 17:02 with a backhander from the front of the net.
Harvard exploded for six goals in the third period, sending MacKenzie to the bench with Yale trailing, 6-1, reversing the same margin the Elis held over Harvard only a week before. Steve Dagdigian scored with the power play at 6:19 on a Roth rebound, and Thomas nabbed his second at 7:28 as his shot broke off MacKenzie's stick and tucked into the corner of the net.
Gary Balzhiser scored his second against Murray's replacement John Aiken at 8:48, backhanding a rebound into the net. But the Crimson icemen responded with three more in the following four minutes, and Yale seemed to be just going through the motions in its final game of the season.
Roth boosted his team leading point total with a goal at 10:01 after a fancy display of stickhandling and speed, and Dave Gauthier scored his first goal of the season at 11:52. Steve Janicek notched his second of the season at 13:57 on the power play.
Gary's brother Bob Balzhiser capped the Eli scoring at 18:22 and Jim McMahon made it 10-3 at 19:19, to cinch the game for Harvard.