PROVIDENCE, R.I.--John Devin gave Harvard hockey boosters reason to smile last night at Brown.
The junior goaltender, playing effective if unspectacular defense, stopped all but two Bruin shots and led his team to a lackluster 3-2 victory.
Lackluster, except for the encouraging play of Devin. The netminder had played in only the season-opener against Brown, and was making his first start since suffering a knee injury during warm-ups before the Princeton game three weeks ago. He seems to have made a complete recovery.
"I don't think the team played well," said Assistant Coach Kevin Hampe, "but Devin made some great saves and held them in there."
Defenseman Butch Cutone agreed: "Dev saved us. He bailed us out."
Devin's solid play was a solid endorsement of Coach Bill Cleary's system of alternating his starting goalies.
At the start of this season, one of the biggest questions facing the Harvard Crimson was how to replace Grant Blair, the graduated, Second Team All-America goalie.
Neither of Blair's back-ups, Devin or senior Dickie McEvoy, had received significant playing time in the past two years, so there was no way for Cleary to determine who should start every game.
So he didn't. The two were scheduled to alternate starts.
But with Devin's injury, McEvoy had the opportunity to play in each of the last seven contests--and perhaps to establish himself as the team's first-string goaltender.
McEvoy certainly didn't hurt his reputation in the eyes of his coaches. He compiled an impressive 2.00 goals-against average, and notched his first collegiate shutout two weekends ago against Dartmouth.
Now that Devin's back, does McEvoy mind sitting out every other contest? "As long as we're winning, I don't care," he said. "I thought John played awesome."
Devin also showed some diplomatic ability. "We won, that's all I care about," he said. "We help each other a lot."
Perhaps more important than the mutual admiration which has developed between the goalies is the confidence they have inspired in their teammates.
"There was a little uncertainty at the beginning of the season as to how they'd fit in," defenseman Mark Benning said. "But they've both shown that they're top Division I goalies, which is what all good teams need."
Cleary was similarly overjoyed: "Can I be unhappy with that?" he asked rhetorically about Devin's 18-save performance. "The kid did a great job. It's a real bonus--a real plus. We have every bit of confidence in both boys."
McEvoy is scheduled to start Friday's game at Minnesota-Duluth, and Devin will play the following night.
The two Crimson goalkeepers will continue alternating this way until--if all goes well--they make a return trip to the midwest in March. "Between the two of us, I figure we can stop enough pucks to get us to the NCAA Championships [in Detroit]," Devin said.
The Notebook: McEvoy is currently fourth in the ECAC in goals-against average. However, he's played twice as many games as the top three league net-minders--Clarkson's John Fletcher, Yale's Mike O'Neil and St. Lawrence's Scott Yearwood.