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You Had To Be There


By Michael K. Savit

You had to be there. There is no other way to conceptualize the magnificence that was the Harvard hockey team on Monday night, the drama of watching the Crimson icemen bottle up B.U. in the Terriers' end of Boston Garden as the overhead clock wound down, the thought that Harvard would skate off with the 25th Beanpot suddenly becoming a reality.

So you're sitting at a crowded table in a crowded dining hall, and eight people are carrying on ten conversations. Now it's your turn. "Reminds me about the time..." you start to ramble, priming for the punch line and nervously checking other faces, for you realize that now no one else is talking. You get to the punch line, but no one laughs. "I guess you had to be there," you mumble into your untouched vienna loaf.

You had to be there to see Brian Petrovek get mobbed by ebullient teammates after the final buzzer, Bill Horton take a victory lap around the ice with the championship trophy firmly in hand, the B.U. bench when four seconds remained in the game with the ensuing face-off in the Terriers' end.

So you're in a threesome, one person tells a story. The other person acknowledges this first story and then adds emphasis with one of his own. Now it's your turn so you, too, add your two cents' worth. But your story is irrelevant. It had made sense earlier in the day when you first told it, and then again at lunch, but not now. "I guess you had to be there," you tell your two companions, who are now looking at you as if you were crazy.

You had to be there to hear the Crimson crowd erupt when Jackie Hughes and Horton scored shorthanded goals in the second period, when Jon Garrity notched the game-winner, when Petrovek frustrated more than one Terrier with a sprawl here and a lunge there and in so doing saved the tourney MVP award for himself. PETRO, PETRO, PETRO we yelled as the senior netminder accepted his due. You had to be there.

"Well first," you tell your parents over the phone, "I did this, and then I did that, and then I did this and that. Yeah, it was great. What, it doesn't sound so great to you. I guess you had to be there."

You had to be at Park Street when Monday became Tuesday just to dance to the tunes of the Harvard Band, and "Screw B.U.," to appreciate the sweetness of the triumph, to learn that won ton spelled backwords is not now, to fully understand that a victory over Boston University in the Beanpot finals is unlike any other victory in any other sport.

"Did you see Carson last night?" you ask your breakfast partner. "Yeah, he was funny. How funny was he? Why he was so funny that...I guess you had to be there."

You had to be there because if you weren't, then you missed something special. It's not just that Harvard won, for regardless of the outcome, there still would have been nearly 15,000 screaming fans at Boston Garden participating in an annual clan war. That's why this is special. The Crimson victory makes it that much more so.

If you weren't there, take heart. Harvard's performance gave rise to the possibility of future Garden appearances this season, like in the ECAC's tourney next month. With a sixth-place standing due to Monday's win and a fluffy schedule the rest of the way--two games with Yale, one apiece with Princeton, Penn, Dartmouth and Cornell, or what at the worst should be a 4-2 record--the icemen should now have little trouble making the playoffs. A first-round victory and it's back to the Garden, and while it won't be the Beanpot, it will be the next best thing.

Harvard 4, Boston University 3. You had to be there.

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