Hey seniors, the last time the Harvard hokey team made the playoffs, you were occupied almost entirely with boyfriends and girlfriends and learning a few things about introductory biology. Yeah, that's right, 10th grade.
Hey freshmen, the last time the Harvard hockey team made the playoffs, you were torn between not thinking at all about the opposite sex or thinking about it all the time. And reading Johnny Tremain. Seventh grade, of course.
Sophomores and juniors, you were somewhere in between.
Seems like a long time ago, doesn't it? That's because it is. The last time the Harvard hockey team made a post-season appearance was in 1976, a time when Jimmy Carter was just emerging from his shell. Six yeas or 72 months or 2,190 days--that's about how long it has been for the Harvard hockey fans and the Harvard hockey team and, especially, for Coach Bill Cleary.
"This is what we've been waiting for all year," Cleary said yesterday, "and for the seniors' sake especially, I want to do it. It's been a long, long time."
With a win tonight over Dartmouth (7:30, Bright Center, there are standing room tickets only available), in their final game of the year, Cleary and his charges will make a reappearance in those almost forgotten playoffs.
Dartmouth goaltender Carey Gandy opened the door to first place in the Ivy Division--and the guaranteed playoff spot and home ice in the first round that goes with if--for Harvard by turning aside 34 shots Wednesday night against Yale during the Big Green's 4-1 win.
If, after giving Dartmouth a big thank you tonight before the game, the Crimson stuffs the Big Green into its duffel bags and sends them back to Hanover with a loss, the opening round of the ECAC playoffs will be right back at Bright Center Tuesday night, with Harvard hosting either Boston College or St. Lawrence.
After putting a damper on the Eli playoff hopes, Gandy will not be back to do the same for Harvard Instead, the Big Green (6-13-1 ECAC, 10-14-1 overall) will put Tom Martinson between the posts tonight. The sophomore netminder (5.47 goals against for the year) saw action at the tail end of Harvard's 11-1 season opening win over the Big Green, stopping 14 shots while giving up four goals.
But Martinson won't be in net tonight because of that performance; rather, he and Gandy were given the choice of who wanted to play against Yale and who wanted Harvard. Lucky for Harvard, Gandy chose Yale.
Leading scorer for Dartmouth is center John Donnelly (9-24-33), who makes up the squad's top line with Bruce Cohn (14-13-27) and shaun Teevens (15-11-26).
For Harvard, ferocious forechecking should once again be the key to having tough defense and putting a lot of points on the scoreboard. Wade Lau has not allowed a goal in his last 151 minutes of play, as far as anyone knows the longest a Harvard goaltender has gone without allowing a score in modern times except for Bruce Durno's 152:40 back in '71-'72.
Harvard is 5-1-1 in ECAC play since exams, 4-0-1 at home.