Ever hear of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid? Batman and Robin? Frank and Jesse James? Mick and Keith? You get the idea.
Well, fans of the Harvard men's hockey team are being treated to Coach Bill Cleary's own version of the dynamic duo in the persons of goaltenders Dickie McEvoy and John Devin.
In the wake of the departure of All-America selection and four-year starter goalie Grant Blair, the burden of guarding the Crimson net lies not on the shoulders of one man, but on the shoulders of two.
After watching McEvoy and Devin battle evenly in preseason tryouts, Cleary decided to platoon the two netminders by having them alternate starts.
Cleary's strategy appeared to be a stroke of genius after the first weekend of the season, when Harvard swept ECAC and Ivy League rivals Brown and Yale. Devin made several key stops in a 5-2 victory over the Bruins, while McEvoy effectively shut down Eli shooters as the Crimson notched a 4-1 win the next night.
"I felt comfortable alternating," McEvoy said. "It's a little less pressure not starting every night."
But the pressure returned for the senior netminder when Devin--who was slated to start that night--strained ligaments in his knee during warm-ups before the Crimson's game at Princeton November 21.
"It was just a routine warm-up drill, a three-on-one," Devin explained. "I was coming across the crease to cut down the angle, and as I moved I felt my knee pop."
McEvoy was quickly called in to start in Devin's place, and performed well in a 7-3 Crimson win.
McEvoy has started all of Harvard's games since, while Devin has been recovering. The Crimson's record has shot to 6-0 in that period (leaving Harvard alone atop the ECAC). McEvoy has registered a 1.80 goals-against average so far.
McEvoy is seeing regular duty for the first time in his college career. He served as Blair's back-up during his freshman and sophomore seasons, then took a year off to study in Edinburgh, Scotland, before returning to the squad last year.
"I think taking a year off helped me and hurt me as far as playing," McEvoy said. "After the lay-off, it took a long time to get back into form. But it also helped because I'm more relaxed now."
"I've learned to stay up more," he continued, referring to his "flopping" style in the net. "The coach would constantly tell me not to depend only on my quickness. Before, I would go down on every shot and I'd be caught out of position. I gave up a lot of goals that way."
Devin, meanwhile, considers himself "fully recovered" from his injury, and is eager to return and share the limelight.
"I'll be ready to play this weekend," Devin said.