As far as the Harvard hockey team is concerned, last Wednesday's trip to icy Ithaca is best forgotten.
After a long and cramped charter flight, the skaters stepped onto the ice "headachey, tired and generally sluggish,'" according to defenseman Bob Leckie. Host Cornell then jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the second period and cruised to an easy 8-4 victory before a rowdy, packed house in Lynah Rink.
"The fans were unbelievably rude," Leckie commented, "I almost got hit on the head with a dead fish, and they put a live chicken in the net. They don't think of you as an athlete, they were unbelievably immature."
To top it off, the ill-equipped locker rooms didn't even provide enough towels for the whole team after the game. "We would have been better off staying home and preparing for Dartmouth," Leckie said.
Dartmouth, tonight's opponent at Watson Rink (7:30, WMEX radio), had better luck with Cornell than Harvard did, outgunning the Big Red 9-7 Saturday. Of course, the Big Green didn't have to contend with the fans in Ithaca. On the contrary, Dartmouth had its own special crew of rowdies from the annual Winter Carnival madness to give it to the visiting Cornell skaters.
"It was pretty surprising to see Dartmouth beat Cornell," Leckie said, "I'm glad we get first crack at them on home ice."
Tonight's game will be important for both teams, since Harvard (6-5-2) and Dartmouth (9-8) are fighting for one of the eight ECAC playoff berths. The Big Green has been on the verge of elimination several times this season, especially after back-to-back losses to Boston College and Cornell earlier in the month. But they have managed to hang in there with upsets over Providence (Feb. 10, 4-1) and Cornell.
Coach George Crowe feels his squad is playing "progressively better," after a fast start and a disappointing mid-season slump.
Billy Cleary's Crimson icemen may be without the services of Kevin Burke, who missed the Cornell game with a back injury, and Paul Haley, who was hit in the ankle during practice last week. Dave Bell, who had to sit out the last half of the Cornell game after getting "clobbered,' should be back tonight.