PRINCETON--It's not a mansion with a swimming pool out back. It's not a cabin in the mountains. It's not even a one-room apartment.
But for the Harvard hockey team, what the eight ft. by eight ft. cupboard on the ice's edge--sometimes devilishly referred to as the "sin bin"--lacks in modern comforts, it makes up for in familiarity.
"Our second home is the penalty box," Harvard Coach Bill Cleary said Saturday after Harvard dusted off Princeton, 3-2, here at Baker Rink.
Harvard visited its home away from home nine times Saturday. Often, a "No Vacancy" sign had to be posted--on three occasions, two Crimson players checked into hockey's version of "Hotel" within two minutes of each other.
For Harvard, trying to find a space in the penalty box Saturday was as hard as getting Bruce Springsteen tickets.
The referees were like sheriffs in the wild West, throwing horse thieves into the country jail. "Move over fellas, here comes another one."
"You can't play that way," Cleary said. "You can't take stupid penalties. You can't score when you're in the penalty box."
Harvard, however, was not punished for its transgressions of hockey law.
Nine times the Princeton power play trotted out for a hoedown.
Nine times the Princeton power play got knocked down.
Harvard's penalty killers--led by Captain Steve Armstrong--kept Princeton leading scorer John Messuri and his band, "The Extra Men," off the scoring board.
Messuri owns Princeton's all-time assist record and is closing in on the goal-scoring mark, but when the Tiger power play had as much fizz as a year-old Coke, Messuri grew frustrated.
When Messuri was called for a high-sticking penalty with just over four minutes left in the game, he pounded his stick on the ice. Messuri was slapped with a 10-minute misconduct penalty. Princeton's big gun was hot, but safe inside the penalty box, he could not fire.
"Princeton plays that power play very well," Cleary said. "They do a fine job. [Messuri] only had a couple of good cranks at it."
The Crimson came into the game averaging nine kills out of every 10 penalties it faced.