Forget George and Jackie Hughes, and don't let the ties and jackets in section 18 get you down. Excitement has returned to Harvard hockey.
Talk about new blood. Five goals and seven assists from the "new era" freshmen, and two or three checks that would get ooohs and aaahs from any Garden crowd--not to mention the Walter Brown Arena.
"We knew we could do it," Freshman winger Greg (two goals, two assists) Olson said. "We were in shape and we hustled--we just ran them down."
"Ran them down" smacks of understatement. Coach Billy Cleary had warned it might take a little while before the first-year flub-ups ended and the freshmen settled down to play solid hockey; and it did--about ten minutes. By the time the four-goal third period came to a close, everybody but the sadly out-of-place Northeastern cheerleaders wore a breathless smile.
Perhaps the strong showing in the nothing-to-lose game against the Olympic Team loosened up the young squad. Team USA blanked the Crimson, 5-0, on Nov. 10. But last night, the icemen played calm, composed, yet aggressive, hockey.
The freshmen sparked the team with their desire for the puck and their willingness to go into the corners and scrap. The defense, considered the pre-season questionmark, experienced a few rough moments but came back strong with two Mark Fusco goals; three bonecrunching Scott Sangster checks; and controlled, steady play from senior co-captain Graham Carter and sophomore Scott Powers.
"Coach said it was going to be a big year for freshmen," said Fusco, adding, "It didn't really show against the Olympians because, well, they're Olympians. But this team has the talent--I knew it was gonna work."
It may sound a bit optimistic after only one game, but it looks like "it"--the revamped Harvard offense, powerplay and four line system--will work. In fact, everything but the "sorry, only oreos and coke" concession stand already appears to be in top form.
Blue Lines: R.P.I. comes to town Saturday night, and the Crimson hasn't beaten the Engineers since March '74....
Saturday also marks the last time students will be able to turn in ticket coupons at the door. After that, the tickets will have to be obtained in advance at the 60 Boylston ticket office....
Two sour notes in last nights game were the absences or Jon Garrity and Bobby Fowkes. Both suffered injuries in practice this week and will probably not see action Saturday--although Fowkes says he will "try to play." Garrity's absence forced a slight realignment of the forwards as Rob Burns centered with wingers Rick Benson and Derek Malmquist to form the fourth line.
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