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By Jay K. Varma, Crimson Staff Writer

No one really takes exhibition games too seriously, but last year, the Harvard men's hockey team used its pre-season contest against Team USA to make a statement.

After battling the Olympians to a close 5-4 loss, Harvard showed that its forwards, though young, had the talent to lead the team. That game set the tone for what ended up to be a remarkably successful season, including the ECAC regular-season championship.

The Dalhousie Tigers who skate into Bright tonight at 7:30 p.m. have neither the glimmer nor the talent of the Olympic team, but Harvard Coach Ronn Tomassoni certainly expects to use tonight's game, much as he did last year, to answer questions about his team.

"We're going to go into this game and use it for the experience," he said. "We're going to try things out and see how they work."

Tomassoni said he's happy with how the offense looks in practice. The main area of concern is behind the blue line. He said to look for three different goaltenders in each of the periods tonight, including the two freshman candidates--Aaron Israel and Tripp Tracy--and sophomore Steve Hermsdorf.

Harvard's defense must also adjust to the loss of junior standout Derek Maguire, who is taking the term off for family reasons.

Despite its apparent size disadvantage, Tomassoni said the corps is both physical and speedy. In a surprise move, Tomassoni has converted junior forward Michel Breistroff to defense to help bolster the youthful blue-line corps.

"I've been very impressed with how Michel looks out there in practice," Tomassoni said. "I guess we've been mistaken all along because it looks like his natural position."

As for Dalhousie, no one seems to know much about them. Tomassoni himself said he's only "heard" that they are "a very strong team."

The Tigers, a team composed of both undergraduate and graduate students, feature a talented attack, led by forwards Derek Switzer, Andrew MacVicar and Ken MacDermid. So far, the Tigers are 2-1-2 in exhibition games, including a 6-1 trouncing of Quebec Trois Rivieres, the Canadian national college champs from two years ago.

Friday in the Bronx: Harvard's cross country teams will run in the premier event of their fall season today in New York.

Competing in Van Cortland Park at the annual heptagonals tournament--against all Ivy teams plus Army and Navy--Harvard doesn't expect to come away with the title, but both the men's and women's squads have something to prove today in the Bronx.

For the women, it's a chance to cap off a surprisingly successful season in which the team went 8-1-1 in dual meets.

The core of the Crimson is Captain Karin Swartz, junior Alais Griffin, sophomore Jen Kearney and sophomore Tatum Simon, who've kept Harvard competitive all season.

Unfortunately for Harvard, the key to success at the Heptagonals is depth, something the Crimson sorely lacks.

"We have to find someone to come up and take charge. We have lots of people who can do it. The question is which one," Coach Frank Haggerty said. "We've also got to get the top four people in the top 12 or 15. If we do, I think we should do fine."

Right now, the far and away favorite is Cornell, currently ranked ninth in the nation and led by defending Heps champion Pam Hunt.

For the men, today's meet will be the last hurrah for its seniors: Bill Bland, Spencer Punter and Rob Failla. Failla will compete today inspite of an inflammation in his foot that kept the captain sidelined since the team's first meet in mid-September. (Oddly enough, that was the last time the team competed in Van Cortland Park.)

"I know that our top three are running strongly, but who's going to make up the top five is a question," Haggerty said. "There's great parity around the league, so a five second difference plus or minus could move a team three or four spots."

Salvage Operation: The Harvard women's volleyball team could use some good news. The team is currently 3-10 overall, 0-5 Ivy. It's won a total of only four games in its seven Ivy matches. And it's last win was more than a month ago.

With that in mind, the Crimson, led by Captain Michelle Carlo and junior Ngozi Ogbunamiri, goes on the road in search of its first Ivy win this weekend. Harvard plays Yale at 7 p.m. tonight and Brown tomorrow at 3 p.m.

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