The Harvard junior varsity hockey team defeated the visiting UMass Minuteman 6-3 last night in a game that featured more twists than a Chubby Checker dance routine. The contest was more than a game--it was an experience.
On paper, the outcome was obvious. Harvard, sporting a 7-5 record which actually belies the talent of the team, was playing host to a 2-9 UMass team which has no home rink ahd consequently must practice at facilities provided by Amherst College. But despite the margin of victory, the Crimson's win was no cakewalk.
Only outstanding goaltending by Barry Wald at the start of the first period enabled Harvard to avoid falling behind the aggressive Minutemen. With Glenn Johnson off for holding, the Crimson's Roger Hunt took a page right out of the Billy Cleary playbook and scored a shorthanded goal at 13:02, giving Harvard a 1-0 lead.
With Hunt's goal, the momentum shifted to Harvard as forwards like John Marchand looked as if they owned the ice. But superb net play by UMass freshman Tim Hegarty held the Crimson's lead to a single goal.
Hegarty's acrobatics paid off at 16:32 when UMass managed to tie the score at 1-1 on a goal by Paul White.
Then, less than three minutes later, Hunt traded in his halo for horns as the Minutemen's Scott Alexander scored a highly disputed power play goal while Hunt sat quietly in the penalty box for elbowing.
The goal was justifiably disputed because, as the referees later admitted--after the game, of course--the puck never went into the net. Wald dropped the puck behind him and although it went perilously close to the no-no line, it never went over. But it was still 2-1.
The second stanza saw the two clubs trade goals although it was amazing the teams found time to score amidst the penalities, eight in all. UMass tallied first when they took advantage of a power play at 9:38 to extend their lead to 3-1.
The Crimson's Marchand cut the Minutemen's lead back to one tally with just :59 left in the period on a shorthanded goal, Harvard's second such score of the night.
In the third period, the referees dished out 18 more minutes of penalty time as the Crimson staged a comeback coach Kevin Hampe termed "fantastic."
After two unsuccessful power plays, the Crimson finally tied the game on its third try of the period when Mike MacDonald scored his first of two goals of the stanza at 12:50.
MacDonald's goal was the result of a deflection of his slapshot from the left point by a pile of bodies sitting in front of the UMass net, under which Minuteman goalie Hegarty sprawled helplessly.
Two UMass penalties within ten seconds of each other gave the Crimson yet another power play on which Hunt scored his second goal of the evening with assists from MacDonald and Ken Dummitt. Ken Farrish pushed the Harvard lead to a pair of goals at 17:06.
MacDonald's empty net goal at 18:04 capped the scoring.
"An empty net at 18:04?" you ask. Come on, let's twist again.