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It was one of those classic Beanpot battles studded with stars, asterisks, and any other program marking that denotes spectacular play after play in a tension-packed confrontation. A sudden-death ECAC playoff game it wasn't, but for the 13,674 people who saw the affair, it sure felt like one.
In the end it was Harvard's George Hughes who provided the biggest exclamation point of all when he drilled the puck past Boston College's goaltending sensation Paul Skidmore with 29 seconds left in regulation time, triggering a dramatic 4-2 victory for the underdog Crimson in a crucial Division I contest.
Hughes's goal, his 13th this season, capped three periods of furious action generated by the emotion-charged Crimson. With the Boston Garden clock ticking through the final minute, Harvard's Lyman Bullard retrieved a loose puck behind the Eagle net and angled the disc off the boards where Gene Purdy was stationed. The deflected puck was on Hughes's stick in an instant, and past Skidmore's glove the next.
The tie-breaking score brought a roar from the packed house--one which continued to thunder 28 seconds later, when Murray Dea slid the puck into an unoccupied net, and lasted well past the final buzzer that made the upset official.
The loss was not exactly a sweet one for Skidmore, whose antics in the net bordered on the unbelievable for most of the game. Rejecting 27 Harvard shots in the first 40 minutes and 30 in the entire game, the heralded sophomore carried the nation's sixth-ranked team to the brink of victory before relenting under pressure in the final minutes.
At the other end of the ice, the Crimson's Brian Petrovek gave the customers what they came to see as well, matching Skidmore's dives with a few sprawls of his own in the finest Beanpot performance of his career.
Petrovek finished with 17 official saves, most of which involved frozen rubber travelling at the speed of light. And with 1:58 left to play, the senior responded to the tension of a 2-2 game with one of his best, spearing a red-hot drive by Eagle Joe Augustine to keep Harvard in the hunt.
Petrovek's lapses were team efforts instead of personal failures. The first of them, a Joe Mullen goal at 55 seconds of the first period resulting from a notable lack of Crimson defensemen in front of the net, conjured thoughts of rout in the minds of many.
In the space of 37 minutes from the start of the game, Skidmore managed to rob almost every Crimson skater of a potential score, but at 17:15 of the second period, Gene Purdy's shot from in close pumped hope into the frustrated Crimson and made it known that there was to be no rout this night.
After B.C.'s Mike Martin picked up a rebound and flipped it over a prone Petrovek four minutes into the third, Harvard stormed right back with a picture goal by Barney Cook from 15 feet in front of Skidmore at 6:35, and the stage was set. Harvard vs. B.U., next Monday night.
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