Labor Pains


PRINCETON, N.J.--There is no need to panic.

Again, there is no need to panic.

What did I say, Mr. Tracy?

"You know, there's nothing to panic about."

Thanks, Tripp Just because the Crimson can't always get out of Brown with an overtime win, can't always break out of the Yale Whale Jinx with a 12-1 drubbing, doesn't mean Harvard has forgotten how to win.


Really, on the face of it, that's all that is wrong with this year's Crimson. Last year in Providence, Cory Gustafson got lucky on a point slapshot in overtime, and Harvard stole two points from a game it didn't necessarily deserve to win.

This year? Michel Breistroff loses an edge in the neutral zone, the Bears get a breakaway and Harvard loses.

I kinda like the childbirth analogy--you know, some deliveries are more painful than others. Nurturing a young team to term is a tough task for even the most discerning mother, and Pam Tomassoni's inevitable protests at the choice of metaphor notwithstanding. Mother Ronn can feel his baby kicking. He knows such labor pains are natural for a group like this.

"I said if from the start, this team was going to have growing pains at the beginning of the year," coaches Tomassoni said after the Yale loss. "We're not young, but we are inexperienced, and we have that tendency to self-destruct--there's a lot of ability in the locker room, but there are a lot of lessons to be learned."

Indeed, That goes double for the Crimson fan base, for even given the 1-2 record after three games, there are a couple of vital points Harvard Hockey fans need to keep in mind:

A) Yes, one-and-two ain't three-and-oh. It is conceivable that Harvard could slump to the kind of 7-18 season it had in 1978-79, the last time the Crimson started a year 0-2.

Of course, the Pope might convert to Buddhism and The Crimson might go all Republican on us. But just in case, consider yourself duly warned.

B) Everyone in the Northeast lobbed for success is struggling a bit. Clarkson got drilled at RPI and tied Union over the weekend; RPI lost to Army (Army?) a week before that. Vermont started 4-0-0, then slipped up at Cornell on Saturday.

Brown is the sole Bear in the ECAC catbird's seat--and few think that residence is permanent. And even in Hockey East, Northeastern lost to Yale, then beat BU, then lost to's all got the consistency of the stock market. When nobody knows what's coming next, a few early L's can be swept out the door like the 103rd Congress.

C) Slowly but surely, Harvard shows signs of coming to its senses. Tomassoni, angry after the Brown loss, was more comforting to his players after the Yale game. "Our work ethic was better," said Kirk Nielsen, stressing his Coach's post-game message.

And put a big, red star by this item in your hockey notebook: one of the key contributors to the Princeton win was Brad Konik, the same guy who sat the night before with a team enforced suspension for a stupid five minute major committed in Providence at 20:00 of the third.

"How can you help but be motivated after [getting benched] like that?" he asked theoretically after getting the game clinching shorthanded goal against the Tigers. The key comment, though was his next one.

"You always learn more from losses you win, and sometimes you get complacent when you shouldn't." Better to rip into a faculty foundation than build a shaky facade in front of a couple of misleading one goal wins.

All teams go through this process sooner or later, the shaky start and the period of self-recrimination. Just stay calm--Mama Ronn says everything's gonna be all right.