In the annual winter whirlwind affair between Harvard and Boston University, the first date doesn't mean that much.
Sure, the two nationally-ranked hockey teams are wined and dined from the start by an anxious press looking to find the most impressive of the pair after the initial meeting. But more often than not the squad that looks best the first night out, gets a slap in the face the second time around.
Three years ago, the Crimson skaters edged the Terriers 6-5 in wild game at Walter Brown Memorial Rink. But the next time the two got together, in Boston Garden for the Beanpot tournament, B.U. humiliated Harvard 8-3 and went on to win the trophy.
A year later, the tables turned and it was the Terriers that were jilted in the Garden, 5-4, after winning the opener at Wasson Rink, 6-5. B.U. recovered to win the ECAC finals against Harvard, 4-2.
But last season was the worst. Harvard drubbed the skaters from Commonwealth Avenue with a convincing 7-2 performance in the first meeting and soon courted national fame. The Crimson squad went on to stay undefeated the first half of the season.
Then came the Beanpot tourney, and a blind date with a bunch of dogs (Terriers to be exact) in the finals. B.U. didn't care for previous insults, and returned the favor by dumping Harvard, 7-2.
The Terriers later added injury to insult by crushing the Crimson 7-3 in the ECAC finals and 10-5 in the NCAA consolation match. That definitely soured the relationship.
So this year the two of them are at it again. Tonight (at Walter Brown Rink, 7:30 p.m.) will be the first meeting, followed by an opening round date in the Beanpot Tournament, February 2 (6:15 p.m.).
Harvard will be out there this evening to prove that it is a better team than the slim 5-4 victory over Northeastern and the upsetting 4-3 loss to Penn indicates. B.U. will attempt to continue to impress its admirers, who are already awed by a record of three victories over though squads, Providence (5-3), UNH (6-5) and Dartmouth (5-3).
The Terriers have managed to stay undefeated this year without the services of All-American defenseman Vic Stanfield. This season's defense, headed by Peter Brown and backed up by the goaltending of Brian Durocher, has not folded, especially killing penalties.
One of the keys to B.U.'s success has been its short-handed and power play units. The Terriers have scored on eight of 13 man-advantage situations, while allowing opponents only one goal in 13 power play attempts. B.U. also has a short-handed goal.
Terrier coach Jack Parker has been rotating his goaltender, with Durocher looking more impressive than his counterpart. Pat Devlin, who will be in nets tonight against Harvard. Durocher played against Providence and Dartmouth, allowing six goals while turning back 49 shots. Devlin, in one game, let in five and saved 33.
At the other end of the ice, Brian Petrovek will try to thwart the advances of the Terrier's top line, Peter Marzo (4 goals, 3 assists), Terry Meaghar (4 goals, 1 assist) and Mike Fidler.
Petrovek, who had to take himself out of Harvard's opener with Northeastern because of a bruised foot sustained in practice, played well against the Quakers last Saturday, but didn't get much help up front. He'll need it tonight.
Dave Bell should be back with freshman linemates Gene Purdy and George Hughes, after being benched by coach Billy Cleary. That line clicked for four goals against the Olympic squad, but has not been together much since. Purdy and Hughes are the only freshmen on the team.
If B.U. wants to get fresh, it has freshman Marc Hetnik (center) and John Fox (left wing) on the third line, and fifth defenseman Jack O'Callahan, out of Boston Latin.
The outcome of these match-ups, however, probably won't tell us much about which is the better team. That will have to wait until March. So, don't get too upset if your team loses, the first date never did mean much anyway.