Harvard's varsity skaters, hoping to earn a ticket to the National Championships next week, clash with Cornell tonight in the ECAC playoff semifinals as they return to Boston Garden, the scene of their only ECAC loss this year, for a 9 p.m. faceoff.
A Crimson victory would almost assure the icemen a trip to St. Louis for the NCAA's on March 13-15 as well as provide them with a chance to reap revenge on Boston University for their Beanpot defeat, provided the Terriers survive their semifinal round against Vermont.
Harvard is coming off a strong showing against Clarkson in its quarterfinal match Tuesday. The Crimson, paced by Dan Bolduc's four goals, crushed the Golden Knights, 10-5, to prove beyond doubt that its number-one Eastern ranking was justified.
Cornell, aided by goaltender Dave Chrastina's 37-save performance, scored a 4-2 triumph over the University of New Hampshire in its quarterfinal contest at the Big Red's Lynah Rink. Big Red teams have now advanced to the ECAC semifinals every year since 1965.
Harvard has won both its encounters with Cornell this season, taking a 4-2 victory in Cambridge last January and humiliating the Big Red skaters, 8-2, at Ithaca, N.Y. in February. The Crimson enters tonight's bout with a record substantially better than Cornell's log.
Coach Bill Cleary's icemen have thus far collected the most wins ever by a Crimson squad, completed Harvard's first perfect Ivy League season since 1957, and cemented an untarnished home-ice record with twelve wins at Watson Rink. They stand 22-3 overall, 20-1 in ECAC Division 1, and 12-0 in the Ivies.
Dick Bertrand's team, is contrast, has not enough an exceptional year and does not compare with earlier Big Red squads, which garnered eight consecutive Ivy crowns from 1966 to 1973. Cornell has a 17-7-2 overall mark--15-6-1 in ECAC play and 8-4 in Ivy competition.
Senior winger Dave Peace leads the Big Red offense with 62 points while Chrastina backs up the defense with a 3-59 goals against average.
Harvard's Jim McMahon should gain a spot on the Crimson's top ten career scoring list this weekend. McMahon has 105 points, one less than George McManama in tenth place and two less than Kent Parrot in the ninth slot. Captain Randy Roth needs only four points to move into the fourth position.
The Boston University-Vermont game will begin at 6:15 p.m.