Harvard-Yale football weekend is a magical time for fans in Cambridge and New Haven alike.
In Connecticut this year, students from both schools will inevitably imbibe alcoholic beverages, taunt their supposed archrivals, and pull for their teams in a gridiron matchup that ultimately concerns little more than pride.
But back home at Bright Hockey Center, more than mere bragging rights will be at stake as the Harvard men's hockey team takes on traditional rivals Yale and Princeton this weekend.
Indeed, Friday and Saturday nights mark the Crimson's season-opening league homestand--a homestand that is especially important given last weekend's relatively mediocre road performance.
Harvard played well at Colgate last Friday, but squandered a one-goal lead in the game's final minute, escaping with a 2-2 tie only after some brilliant penalty-killing shifts in the overtime period.
The next evening proved equally frustrating to the young Crimson squad, which responded to a raucous fish-throwing Cornell crowd with several key defensive lapses, dropping a 5-3 decision to the Big Red.
And yet this recent lack of success has hardly discouraged the Harvard squad.
"We weren't outplayed last week," senior captain Brad Konik said. "We simply gave those games away with a few mistakes."
In preparation for Yale and Princeton this weekend, the Crimson has therefore turned its focus inward.
"We're not worried about the other team," Konik said. "We just have to concentrate on our own game and prevent easy goals."
Harvard coach Ronn Tomassoni agreed.
"Everything we did wrong last weekend is correctable," Tomassoni said. "We simply need to play 60 minutes of intense hockey and eliminate those types of mistakes."
This weekend may well be the ideal time for the Crimson squad to reform itself from within.
Whereas both Colgate and Cornell are experienced and highly-rated teams, Yale and Princeton have thus far displayed qualities of quite an opposite nature.
Each team lost many top players to graduation last year, and both have been struggling in the young ECAC campaign.