PRINCETON--The Big Guy in the Sky was listening to Harvard hockey Coach Bill Cleary during the closing seconds of Saturday's Harvard-Princeton game here at Baker Rink.
With four seconds remaining in the game and Harvard holding on to a 3-2 lead. Crimson goalie John Devin made a miraculous save of a Bart Blaeaser shot in front of the net to seal the Crimson victory in front of 2534 spectators.
According to Cleary. Harvard had an audience upstairs, too.
Devin "made a great save with four seconds to go," said the relieved Cleary. "I was saying 10 Our Fathers and 10 Hail Marys on that one."
The win against Jim Higgins's Tigers gave the Crimson (14-4 overall, 14-2 ECAC) its first ECAC road sweep since the first week of the season. when Harvard defeated Brown and Yale. Harvard still remains in first place, two points ahead of St. Lawrence, who beat Cornell Saturday.
Although the Big Guy might have been wearing a Crimson hockey jersey, the icemen needed more than just a few prayers to defeat the gutsy Tigers. While the penalty box became a typical "SRO" affair for Harvard, the Crimson's special teams were putting on a show out on the ice.
Penalty Killing Stars
Three times the Crimson faced three-on-five situations. And three times the ECAC's best penalty-killing team had the Tigers wondering why they couldn't get the puck into the net.
Two of Harvard's goals--which included sophmore C.J. Young's game-winner at the 13:35 mark of final period--came off the powerplay. Captain Steve Armstrong scored the other power-play goal in the second period. Armstrong has now recorded at least one point in his last 12games.
Young's goal broke a 2-2 deadlock and silencedmost of the partisan Tiger crowd. With the Crimsonbenefiting from a John Messuri penalty, Young tooka pass from senior Jerry Pawloski, streaked pastthe entire Princeton penalty-killing unit down theleft side of the zone and put the shot pastPrinceton goalie Mark Salisbury.
"Their defense wasn't moving," Young said. "Itwas a nice goal to get, especially when it helpsthe team so much."
But Young's tally certainly did not lock up thegame for the Crimson. Princeton, which gaveHarvard a scare at Bright Center last Novemberbefore falling 4-3, in overtime, had its offensein full gear in the closing minutes of the finalperiod.
Devin, who finished the game with 23 saves,proved why he is the ECAC's leading goaltender.Devin stopped a Kevin Sullivan shot with 24seconds in the game, and then came up big again onBlaser's blast.
"Once the puck got caught under my pad," saidDevin of the Bleaser shot. "I knew it was thereand I just laid it down. Nobody else knew wherethe puck was, but I knew it was under my pad."
The Tigers, who played without leading-scorerMessuri--whose temper tantrum lead to a 10 minutemisconduct--for the last four and a half minutesof the game, just didn't have the horses to matchup with the quicker Crimson. That mismatch showedas the game progressed.