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Tonight at the Garden, when you're drinking an over-priced, watered-down Tuborg in hopes of miminizing the after-effects of a steamy Colonial frank, one which you'll probably wish you had never eaten in the first place, take a minute to feel sorry for the University of New Hampshire Wildcats.
After all, it's because of UNH that you're going to the Garden (as opposed to, say, the Science Center to see "The Seduction of Mimi") tonight in the first place, so the least that you can do is show a little sympathy for a team whose total existence had been based upon an anticipated trip to Boston, and not another weekend in Durham, N.H.
It's not that Durham is so bad, but the UNH athletic department didn't schedule 28 ECAC encounters, eight more than Harvard and the most of any school in Division I, with the intent of listening to the playoffs on the radio.
Not only did the Wildcats schedule more contests than anyone else, but they won more as well. Their 22 triumphs were 12 better than Harvard could manage, yet the Crimson won the game that counted, and in so doing, turned Snively Arena into sniffly Arena.
The UNH fans, in fact, were so shocked by what transpired on Tuesday night that they just sat glued to their seats for a good ten minutes after the game, staring aimlessly at the overhead scoreboard. Harvard 4, UNH 3, and no more hockey until next November.
And no trip this weekend to Boston, which is no big deal except for those who live in Durham. And no trip to Denver for the NCAA s next weekend, which was practically a certainty if the Wildcats had made it to the Garden tonight, and which the UNH fans would probably have made given the opportunity (not to mention the air fare, but that's only a minor consideration when the alternative is to spend another weekend eating Big Macs in Portsmouth).
The only UNH loyalists who derived any sort of benefit from Tuesday's blowout were those two who received tickets to an upcoming rock concert, courtesy of "The Friends of UNH Hockey," for cheering the most vociferously (i.e. the most obnoxiously) on Tuesday night.
The UNH rooters were so keyed up for the game that they couldn't even restrain their enthusiasm during the National Anthem, and when one yelled out "Go Wildcats!" during John Conroy's singing hardly helped to silence the joint.
But when Dave Bell gave the Crimson a 4-3 lead early in the third period, everybody shut up, and fast. Everybody, that is, save for the 500 or so Crimson supporters who made the trip, and who, along with an inspired Harvard band, were the only ones to go home happy.
And so tonight, say midway through the Harvard-B.U. game, it might not be such a bad gesture for Harvard fans to rise in a moment of silent prayer for their UNH counterparts, who unexpectedly passed away, both spiritually and emotionally, three nights ago. And then it would be an even better idea to sit down and yell "Screw B.U.!"
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