It had to happen in my senior year. Worse yet, it had to happen in George Hughes's senior year.
For the members of the Class of '79, Harvard hockey has been a series of ups and downs, of bizarre twists and weird, less-than-happy endings. But this latest blow has been the cruelest of all, a sad denouement to a faded dream.
For those of you who haven't heard yet, Watson Rink now lies in rubble. The Crimson hockey team will play its home games at B.U.'s Walter Brown Arena, in the midst of the nasty Terrier den, in front of the same fans that left the haunting chant of "Harvard sucks" ringing in our ears after last year's Beanpot embarrassment. They'll practice over there at 6:30 a.m., an ungodly hour even for those who are used to getting up early for Gas Stations lectures.
It's a sad finale for those of us who came to Harvard after hearing stories about guys like Randy Roth and Brian Petrovek, who couldn't wait to get rowdy in section 18 or to sing all the way home on the Red Line after watching a bunch of Ryan O'Neal types dance around the Boston Garden ice.
Sure, there have been plenty of John Cochrane's sonic booms from the point, Gino's wild-eyed dashes along the boards, and George's slick moves through the savage B.U. defense to savor. And there were the ECAC upsets over UNH in '76 and the Beanpot title in '77. But really, it's been a long, slow slide to where we are now--the pits.
I mean, how bummed out is the guy who wanted to take time off until Harvard hockey got better, but decided not to so he wouldn't miss any of George's games? And what about the manic fan in section 14 with the orange hat and the rubber chicken, the one who always leaned over the glass to chew out the refs? What will he do now?
The current situation, inevitable as it may be, leaves me with the same queasy feeling as that last-second loss to Dartmouth (of all bogus teams) that put us out of the playoffs in '77, the same helplessness I felt while watching George and Jackie try to defend both Crimson pride and clean play against the whole B.U. team in last spring's donnybrook.
To make matters worse, we can't even work out the frustration on the ice ourselves. House hockey, that oasis of pleasure in otherwise bitter Cambridge winters, has also bit the dust. No more center-ice fantasizing or Gil Perrault imitations. For a while there was talk of an alternate site--interhouse action at the Boston Skating Club. But that seems to have fallen through. So we are left to theses, exams, and soot-covered Cambridge snowbanks...and luckily, the river.
That's right, folks, the Chuck. Forget the MDC police. Forget the frostbite. When things get desperate, you've gotta go for it. Maybe the varsity should play their games there, too. Can you picture it--bonfires and kegs on the banks, Jim Trainor blasting one over the net and all the way down to Weeks Bridge.
It would be better than B.U. I mean, it's a nice rink and all that, but it's just not home. If George had wanted to play at B.U., he would have done it from the beginning, and he'd be centering an All-American line with Mark Fidler and Dave Silk right now. Instead, he'll play out his career before only the faithful few. It's enough to make you sad.
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