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Harvard hockey Coach Bill Cleary is a creature of habit. And one of his recently established traditions is the strict two-goalie rotation of sophomores Chuckie Hughes and Allain Roy.
Last season, Hughes made a stellar showing in the Beanpot semifinal, but still sat out the championship game. Roy was magic in the NCAA semis, but had to earn all-tourney honors based on his performance in just that game--Hughes still played the big one.
But Friday night in Burlington, Vt., Cleary broke this self-imposed rule by starting Roy in net on a day clearly marked as Hughes' turn.
The reason? Cleary's answer is simple, "I felt more comfortable going with Allain."
He has his reasons. In his previous two outings, Roy had come through with two wins for the Crimson (3-5-1 overall, 3-5-1 ECAC)--stopping 45 shots against Dartmouth two weeks ago and then blanking Cornell in raucous Lynah Rink. Roy, quite simply, was on a roll.
Still, it is too early to count Hughes out. Harvard's 6-5 overtime loss to the Catamounts couldn't have helped Roy's bid for the number-one spot, despite his solid performance. And, although Hughes is struggling this season, a few early season games can't erase the impact Hughes made last year.
Cleary admits this and has already announced that Hughes will be manning the twines Saturday against Dartmouth.
...Always Returns to the Scene of the Crime: This winter break is the return to St. Paul--the Crimson meet Minnesota Dec. 22 and 23 in a two-game rematch of last year's NCAA championship. But for three Harvard players, it instead will be the return to Helsinki.
Sophomore Kevin Sneddon has already left to join the Canadian junior national team in its bid for a the world junior title, which will be decided in a tournament in Finland over the holidays. Hughes and freshman forward Ted Drury will join the U.S. contingent after this weekend's games.
Goal of the Week: Not taking dramatics into account (Mike Vukonich's last-second goal would take the honor, hands down), this week's award goes to Tim Burke for his "I-can't-believe-that-was-a-goal" goal in the second period.
With the Catamounts ahead, 3-1, Burke skated into the UVM zone and set for a slapshot to the left of Vermont goalie Mike Millham. Millham had the angle played perfectly. In fact, everyone in Gutterson Field House knew Millham had the angle.
Instead of shooting towards the right side, where the gap was bigger than Montana, Burke opted for the little crevice between Millham and the left post. The puck somehow found the post and skirted inside the net.
Players of the Week: Offense: Finally, it's Vukonich's turn. The junior forward is enjoying his best season and leads both Harvard and the ECAC in scoring after his three-point performance Friday.
Against the Cats, Vukonich tallied the surprise last-second goal to force overtime. But he also helped tie the game, 4-4, 13 minutes earlier when his shot on Millham was stuffed back into the net by John Murphy.
Defense: For the second time this season, the clear-cut choice is Sneddon. The sophomore defender played his usual steady game, giving several Vermont forwards fits in the offensive zone.
Sneddon was also involved in a strange tangle with UVM forward John LeClair in the third period. While both players were digging for the puck behind the Harvard net, LeClair decided to grab Sneddon's legs. The ref blew the whistle, LeClair held on, and both players crashed to the ice.
The strange part? The ref called LeClair and Sneddon for roughing. Kevin Sneddon getting called for roughing? Right.
Injury Update: Senior Tod Hartje and sophomore Brian McCormack both left Friday night's game with shoulder injuries and have missed the first few practices of the week.
Hartje--who also injured his ankle--has yet to skate a full practice, but is likely to play when Dartmouth heads into Bright Center Saturday. McCormack returned to practice yesterday and is also probable for Saturday's game.
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