Never has a losing coach been more amiable in defeat.
Harvard Coach Bill Cleary was so unaffected by his team's 15-3 drubbing at the hands of the United States Olympic Hockey Team last night at Bright Center that he walked into the visitors' locker room and offered his laughter and congratulations.
And his best wishes. The good old USA will face much fiercer opponents than it did last night. Another team clad in red awaits the Olympians somewhere on the hockey horizon.
For now, the USA has been barnstorming North America, demolishing selected college hockey teams around the country. Harvard, playing its first game of the season, was college hockey victim number nine for the Olympians, who have beaten their collegiate opponents by a collective 89-20 count. The victory was the Olympians' 16th out of 28 games on a rigorous 60-game tour, which features contests against pro, college and other Olympic teams.
Cleary, who played on two Olympic teams, including the squad that won the gold medal in Squaw Valley, Calif. in 1960, skipped across the ice and into the USA locker room after the game to offer some encouragment to the current gold diggers.
"I just went over and congratulated them and wished them luck," Cleary said. "I told them we were all behind them. They've got a great team. Anything can happen [in the Olympics]."
"I tell you," he added, winking, "no one thought we'd win it in '60."
One former Harvard player, Scott Fusco '86, and two current Harvard undergraduates taking a year off, Allen Bourbeau and Lane MacDonald, skated for the Olympians last night. During pre-game announcments, their names were announced last, to rousing ovations.
Bourbeau and Fusco each contributed a goal and Lane MacDonald added a pair of assists for the Red, White and Blue. All three were glad to be back at Bright, skating before a large and enthusiastic crowd of 3350 fans.
"It was a little different being on the visitors' side of the ice," Bourbeau said."It was a good crowd. It seemed like they werereally into it."
Fusco last played two years ago, when hecaptained the Crimson squad that finished secondin the NCAA Tournament.
"It's nice to get the chance to come backhere," Fusco said. "I didn't think I'd be able toafter I graduated. It's nice to be remembered."
MacDonald was the Crimson's leading scorer lastyear and helped Harvard win the ECACchampion-ship. He said he was nervous before thegame, but had some fun battling his formerteammates.
He still thinks of himself as a Crimson skater,calling Harvard "we," as in, "I think we're goingto do well this year. We've got some good defenseand some good lines. I think we can win the ECACagain."
Bourbeau had the odd distinction of scoringagainst his former roommate, Harvard goalie JohnDevin, with 16 minutes left in the second period.Devin injured his knee in the middle of the periodand was replaced by freshman Michael Francis.