While the Harvard basketball squad struggled through three vacation losses, and the crew team lost a race in Egypt, the Crimson icemen managed to take four out of five Yuletide contests and remain the top team in both the Ivy League and the ECAC.
The fans at Watson Rink December 21 had to wonder if the team Harvard was outscoring, 6-3, really came from Brown University. Last year, former Bruin coach Allan Soares dressed Attila and his horde in Brown hockey uniforms and sent them out on to the ice at Watson to ravage Harvard, and leave a trail of 32 minutes of Bruin penalties, a game misconduct, a bloodied Kevin Burke and a 6-1 Harvard victory.
The season Dick Toomey, former freshman coach elevated to the varsity helm shortly after last season's unsuccessful siege of Watson, has done away with the Big Bad Bruin image. He skated a well-mannered, disciplined squad of honest-to-goodness hockey players, that looked a whole lot better than the 6-3 score they lost to Harvard by.
Surprisingly, there were only five penalties assessed the entire game, and Brown picked up only two of them. The first period passed remarkably quickly and the door to the sin bin never opened.
The nearly uninterrupted action, however, resulted in just a pair of scores, one by each team. Jim Thomas fired the first of his two past Brown goaltender Kevin McCabe at 18:49 and Dave Stevenson snuck one past Crimson goalie Brian Petrovek with a mere 32 seconds remaining in the stanza.
Petrovek held strong in the Crimson nets, as the Brown forechecking kept the pressure in the Harvard end at the outset. Petro saved 25 on the evening, 11 in the opening period alone.
Harvard broke the game open in the first four minutes of the second period as Thomas scored at 1:43 and Kevin Carr tallied twice at 3:45 and 4:02. The Bruins came within two at 8:08 of the third period on Stevenson's second goal, but Crimson newcomers Jon Schuster and Bill Hozack rolled the Harvard score up to six. Rick Heimbach made it three for Brown with only 30 seconds left in the game.
But for the more bloodthirsty of the fans, who were disappointed by Toomey's classy squad and the clean, well-played Harvard-Brown game, the Crimson and the scrappy Irish of Notre Dame obliged with a bit of blood-letting two nights later at Watson Rink.
The two squads racked up a total of 21 two-minute penalties as Harvard romped over a tired Notre Dame squad 8-2. The Irish, who had taken on and beaten Boston College the night before, picked up 12 of the minor infractions but just two goals, both by Alex Pirus, on 35 shots on net.
Crimson coach Billy Cleary rested Petrovek and started John Aiken in net. Aiken made 33 saves and allowed both Irish goals. Jim Murray, a starting goaltender on last season's Harvard varsity, was put in to mop up in the third period and was tested just twice. It was the first appearance of the season for Murray.
The Harvard scoring parade was led by Leigh Hogan and Jim McMahon, who fired two goals each past freshman goalie Len Moher. Hogan scored first, 1:52 after the opening face-off, followed by Steve Dagdigian who gave Harvard a 2-0 first period lead. Hogan tallied the lone Harvard goal in the middle stanza after Pirus brought the Irish within one, and Harvard took a 3-1 lead into the final period of action.
Captain Randy Roth and Thomas and Larry Piatelli tallied at 3:16, 6:43 and 7:18 respectively of the third before Pirus got Notre Dame's second tally. McMahon capped it off with two within 20 seconds of each other, at 12:05 and 12:25, to complete the penalty-marred rout.