When the referee drops the puck at Bright Center tonight, they'll get another chance. A chance to score the final goal that Michigan State scored a year ago with just 2:53 remaining in the finals of the NCAA Championship.
A goal that left the players on the Crimson second best for the second time in four years.
And although preseason polls indicate Harvard has a solid chance of doing just that--the Crimson has been ranked as high as fifth in national polls--it will have to make its run for the NCAA title without several players who were central in last year's championship drive.
Gone from this year's squad are Harvard's all-time leading scorer Scott Fusco, and one of the Crimson's greatest goalies, Grant Blair.
Gone, too, are the Crimson's leading goal-scorer last year, Tim Smith, and its durable third-line center, Rob Ohno.
But although it will miss the services of these players, Harvard should still be a solid bet to win its sixth straight Ivy League title and to take the ECAC crown that eluded it last year.
Harvard still has powerful scoring threats in Allen Bourbeau (24 goals, 19 assists and 43 points in just 25 games last year), Lane MacDonald (22-24--46) and Tim Barakett (19-31--50). Smith's replacement as the first-line right wing, C.J. Young, had a stellar career at Belmont Hill High School, and with Bourbeau and MacDonald should make Harvard's first line potent again.
"They're playing very well," Harvard Coach Bill Cleary said. "It should be a good line."
"Both Lane and C.J. are excellent players," Bourbeau said. "They can fly, and they both have good hands."
And Harvard's second line--Ed Krayer (center), Steve Armstrong (left wing) and Barakett (right wing)--should score its share of goals.
Last year, Krayer played left wing for Bourbeau's and Barakett's "Killer B" line, and scored nine goals and recorded 22 assists. More important, he improved greatly as the season progressed and recorded his first collegiate hat trick in Harvard's second ECAC quarterfinal triumph over Colgate.
Harvard's defense--one of the best in the nation last year--didn't lose anyone to graduation. But defenseman Jerry Pawloski injured his knee during the Sports Festival and will not be back in action until February, if at all.
"We lost Pawloski, which is a tough one," Cleary said. "The doctors told him they weren't too optimistic. But knowing Jerry and seeing him walk around, I don't know--I wouldn't bet against him."
Without Pawloski, the Crimson still has a stellar defense. Cleary will use three defensive pairs this year--Mark Benning and Randy Taylor, Don Sweeney and Josh Caplan (maybe the quickest pairing in college hockey), and Chris Biotti and Butch Cutone.
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