Harvard hockey coach Bill Cleary said after last night's 4-3 loss to Boston College at Bright Center: "Shorthanded, the kids really played well." He was talking about the work of the Crimson penalty-killers, but he may as well have been talking about his team's status in general.
Two injuries--Greg Olson's charley horse and Scotty Powers' sprained ankle--plus captain Mike Watson's losing battle with the flu, left the Crimson literally down a few men against the Eagles. Cleary was forced to juggle three of his lines, not something a coach likes to do before a game with a team like powerful B.C.
"The whole changing of everything around messed us up," said defenseman Mark Fusco. "But there are no excuses. No excuses at all." Added Cleary: "Our penalty-killing unit was taken away, our power play unit was taken away. With that situation, we played well."
The loss, marred early on by a five-minute major penalty assessed to Crimson defenseman Alan Litchfield--which resulted in two Eagle power-play goals--and some real lazy play during the second period, dropped Harvard's ECAC record to 5-4-1 (5-6-1 overall). B.C. is now 5-3 ECAC (9-4 overall).
Things started out anything but slow. Crimson forward Tony Visone took a neat pass from Greg Britz behind the net and beat Eaagle netminder Bill Switaj from point blank jut 24 seconds after the first puck was dropped.
Boston College bounced back to tie exactly two minutes later, when Chris Delaney poked the puck through Shayne Kukulowicz' legs at his own blueline and, skating in alone on Wade Lau, slapped a high hard one into the upper right corner.
Harvard, however, hadn't slipped into its second period retrograde yet. Scott Fusco took a centering pass form his brother 15 feet in front of the B.C. net and slid it along the ice, off Eagle defenseman Tom Wright's skate and under Switaj, for a 2-1 Harvard lead at 5:39.
But, after Harvard killed off a high-sticking penalty to Brian Busconi, a shorthanded stint that included a deflection wide and a great stick save by Lau on Eagle forward Jeff Cowles, the referee lowered the boom on Litchfield, who had just unintentionally lowered the boom on B.C. forward Gary Sampson at 13:08.
The major penalty--a major because his stick slid up into Sampson's face--for cross-checking meant that Harvard would play shorthanded for five full minutes, even if the Eagles scored, a situation B.C. was quick to take advantage of.
A minute into the penalty, a Lee Blossom shot deflected high in the air over Lau's lead--causing the Crimson netminder to lose sight of it--and when it came down, Eagle forward Jeff Cowles Willie Mays-ed it out of the air and into the net to tie the game at two.
Boston College forward Ed Rauseo gave the Crimson a break at the 15 minute mark, going off for a hold, and evening the sides at four. But only 35 seconds after he returned, B.C. notched its second man-up goal of the Litchfield penalty, a Billy O'Dwyer rebound and tap-in job at 17:35, to give the Eagles a 3-2 lead.
An Eagle insurance tally and a muted Harvard rally midway through the third, which included Scott Fusco's second goal on the night, closed out the action.
THE NOTEBOOK: The three stars of the game, as selected by the Cambridge media: Cowles, Scott Fusco, Rauseo...Scott Fusco now has seven goals on the year to lead the team. 1. Harvard, Tony Visone (Greg Britz), 0:24. 2. B.C., Chris Delaney (Jeff Cowles), 2:24. 3. Harvard, Scott Fusco (Mark Fusco), 5:39. 4. B.C., Cowles (Lee Blossom), 14:10. 5. B.C., Billy O'Dwyer (Tom Wright, Cowles), 17:35. 6. B.C., Otto Marenholz (Robin Monleon, Gary Sampson), 1:04. 7. Harvard, Scott Fusco (M. Fusco, Ken Code), 9:19. Saves: B.C., Bill Switaj, 10-7-7--24. Harvard, Wade Lau, 11-9-7--27.
1. Harvard, Tony Visone (Greg Britz), 0:24. 2. B.C., Chris Delaney (Jeff Cowles), 2:24. 3. Harvard, Scott Fusco (Mark Fusco), 5:39. 4. B.C., Cowles (Lee Blossom), 14:10. 5. B.C., Billy O'Dwyer (Tom Wright, Cowles), 17:35. 6. B.C., Otto Marenholz (Robin Monleon, Gary Sampson), 1:04. 7. Harvard, Scott Fusco (M. Fusco, Ken Code), 9:19.
Saves: B.C., Bill Switaj, 10-7-7--24. Harvard, Wade Lau, 11-9-7--27.
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