A Regular-Season Crown Made Only of Paper

Mark My Words

For winning it, you don't get a banner. Or a ring. Or even a certificate.

You just get a pat on the back and some encouragement: "Keep going."

Finishing atop the ECAC regular-season standings is like winning the eastern Montana fly fishing championships: it's a great accomplishment, but nobody notices. Except, of course, the fish.

You're the best, but you still have to take the test: the ECAC Tournament.

Going into this weekend's action, the Harvard hockey team is in first place in the ECAC, two points ahead of St. Lawrence. Four wins in its last four games guarantees the Crimson its third-straight regular-season title.


For winning it, you don't get a trophy. Or a team photo. Or even a congratulations card from the ECAC commissioner.

Two years ago, Harvard wrapped up the regular-season crown two weeks before the ECAC Tournament. Then, on the last day of regular-season action, the team lost its leading scorer--Scott Fusco--to a shoulder injury.

Harvard stumbled into the ECAC semifinals, before losing to Clarkson, 4-2. The big banner saying "ECAC Champions" went to Cornell. Meanwhile, Harvard was besieged with a slew of "Get Well Soon" cards.

For lack of anything better to do, Harvard--which has already wrapped up home ice for the ECAC playoffs--will now try to win the ECAC regular-season paper crown. Four games left. Might as well win 'em.

If 1986's example is any lesson, converting a regular-season title into a post-season title is as about as easy as catching a shark in a sewer. Regular-season greatness does not always yield playoff punch.

Last year, though, Harvard was able to exchange its regular-season bananna republic for a post-season monarchy. Harvard went from big (20-2 regular season) to bigger (an ECAC Championship) in four easy steps--a pair of wins over Brown and victories over RPI and St. Lawrence in the ECAC Tournament.

Harvard has the inside track on this year's regular-season title. But an assortment of good teams will be vying for the post-season crown.

The first isn't much good without the second.

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