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200 Wins...and a Whole Lot More

Knobler Than Thou

By Mike Knobler

Bill Cleary '56 raced across the ice from the bench to the slot and started embracing every player in sight.

You'd have thought last night's 6-5 Beanpot triumph over Boston College came in the finals, not the consolation.

"The only time I've seen him like that is when we won the ECACs in the Garden," senior Brian Busconi said.

Looked like the coach was pretty excited about his 200th career coaching win, huh?

"That was the farthest thing from my mind," Cleary said of his post-game celebration. "I was just so glad we won."

In fact, Cleary said he had totally forgotten that this was his win number 200, a landmark in his 14-year career. "I was stupid, I suppose," he mused.

Some kind of stupidity, to earn 20s, victories against just 153 defeats the 20 ties to compile winning records against all but two Eastern teams, to in three Bean, of championships and five Ivy piles and an ECAC crown, and to reach the final game of the NCAA tournament.

All this after a playing career that earned him induction into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, Olympic career that saw him win a silver in 1956 and a gold in 1960 in eight year career as a referee in which he worked three NCAA Tournaments.

And then to celebrate his 200th victory in the Boston Garden, in front of the hometown crowd.

"Couldn't be sweeter than the Beanpot against B.C.," Cleary said.

No matter that this was only a consolation game, with the first two periods played in front of thousands of empty seats. For Cleary, this was the first Beanpot victory since the 1981 final. And it was the first Beanpot win for the three Crimson seniors, who had suffered through an 0-7 streak in the tournament.

"I'm so happy for the seniors," Cleary said. "Did you see the smile on Brian [Busconi]'s face?"

A smile topped only by the coach's own.

Most of the players didn't know Cleary was going for his double century. "Maybe if we had known earlier we would have beaten them by a little more," Captain Brad Kwong said. "It feels good to do something for the coach."

And for Cleary it felt great to knock off B.C., a team he hadn't beaten in three years. Cleary won the Beanpot Tournament MVP award in 1955, when he led Harvard to a 5-4 overtime victory in the final against B.C. "The coach really doesn't like B.C.," said junior Scott Bosco.

"I know he's just very, very I apps, especially to beat a team he's not very fond of," added, junior Rob Ohno.

How does it rank compared of the previous 199? "I enjoyed this one like I enjoyed the first one...and I enjoyed every on in between," Cleary said.

Cleary was a referee when "someone called me and said Do you want to coach the freshmen?'" in two years coaching the Crimson frosh, he went 38-4. Then he served as assistant under" his old coach Cooney Weiland, during the 1970-71 season, in which Harvard won an ECAC title.

Ever since then he's been running the show, "trying to uphold the same ideals" as Weiland, who Cleary calls "the Old Master." How successful has he been?

"Two hundred wins in 200 wins," said B.C. Coach Len Ceglarski. "That's a lot of practices." This year Ceglarski became one of four coaches ever to win 500 college games. Will Cleary, now 50 years old, catch up someday?

Sold Ceglarski, who began his head coaching career 13 years before Cleary. "He's still a young man and he's got a long way to go." Crimson, 6-5 at Boston Garden Bostan College  0  3  2  5 Harvard  4  1  1  6

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