When the clock strikes 12 midnight on October 15, the season will begin.
Harvard men's hockey plans to kick off its 1995-96 season with a bang on October 15, beginning its preseason at the first possible minute that Ivy League rules allow in a practice that is generally known as Mid-night Madness. All Ivy League winter teams can begin practice on that date.
Unlike in previous seasons, however, when the Crimson waited until a more staid hour to drop the puck for the first time, Harvard plans to make an early statement about the season to the Ivy League and--more importantly--to its fans.
"We hope that Midnight Madness will be fun for everyone," senior goaltender Tripp Tracy said. "But one of the real reasons for it is to get students excited about the season."
The Crimson will attempt to dazzle the fans with is premier "Madness," which is open to all students with valid Harvard identification. The team will open the Bright Hockey Center doors at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 14.
At exactly midnight, however, with the help of the Harvard band and cheerleaders, fans will welcome the Harvard hockey team to Bright for the first time this season. After introductions and light skating drills, the team will scrimmage, giving the fans their first look at the 1995-96 edition of Harvard hockey.
"It is symbolic to the team in that the minute that we can, we'll be out on the ice," senior captain Brad Konik.
In an effort to spur student interest, the Crimson has put together a package of prizes and give-always. The first 60 people through the doors will receive a free T-shirt, while all students will automatically be entered into a series of raffles over the course of the night. Raffle prizes range from dinner for two in Harvard Square to in-line skates.
All students will also have the opportunity to cast their ballots in the Senior Showdown, an event that pits Tracy against his fellow seven seniors in a shoot-out.
Harvard will even provide a free shuttle bus for students back to the Yard after "Madness."
Harvard hockey coach Ronn Tomassoni has been the driving force behind Midnight Madness to the point where some have called the event his brainchild.
"The students are such an important part of our success," Tomassoni said. "When they're at the rink making noise, it creates an extra edge for us."
According to some Harvard hockey diehards, fan support and the Crimson's record have slipped hand-in-hand in the last year.
"Last year, the support from fans was not as good as it was in my first few years," said Trin Mitra '96, who is probably one of the most vocal Harvard hockey fans on campus. "It's probably because the team hasn't been as good as it used to be."
Tracy and Konik say that the team has noticed the declining support.
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