SCHENECTADY, N.Y.--"It's the same old story, same old song and dance."
Aerosmith probably didn't write songs with the Harvard men's hockey team in mind, but after Saturday afternoon's 5-3 loss to Union (9-13-4 overall, 6-10-4 ECAC) at Achilles Rink, the Crimson (13-12-1, 11-8-1) seemed to be playing that old tune.
"Well, it's a similar theme," coach Ronn Tomassoni said. "We didn't play 60 minutes."
The Dutchmen entered Saturday afternoon's game having never beaten the Crimson in seven career battles, and the match took on added importance since it was the last home game for Union.
The afternoon contest began in the classic Harvard fashion: out-standing defense, with goalie Tripp Tracy coming up with a few superb saves while killing off a Union power play.
But soon, the walls would cave in.
Only six minutes into the game, Union's Russell Monteith cleaned up on a loose puck in front of Tracy on a Dutchman power play for a 1-0 Union lead.
Monteith was not finished exciting the unusually crowded Union arena; the sophomore would strike again. Streaking down the left side of the rink, Monteith beat the Crimson defender wide and deked Tracy for a 2-0 Union lead.
Just as Harvard was licking its wounds the nightmare got worse. Only 37 seconds after Monteith's second strike, Shane Holunga--a junior who had only scored two goals in 57 career games--rifled a shot from the right point that rattled off the upper corner of the net and in for a 3-0 Union lead.
The forecast only worsened for the Crimson, when senior Steve Martins was sidelined with a mysterious injury which would keep him out of action until a doctor cleared him to start the third period.
"I was just feeling light headed so they kept me out as a precaution," Martins said.
But as the first period wound down, Union would have one more strike at the Crimson.
Captain Cory Holbrough, playing in his last home game as a collegian, gave the Skating Dutchmen fans one more thrill on a two-on-one break for Union. The senior flipped the puck into the topright corner for a 4-0 Union lead.
The fourth goal caused Tomassoni to replace Tracy with senior Steve Hermsdorf in an attempt to ignite the team into action.
"I pulled [Tracy] at that time to see if we could light a spark amongst the rest of the team, but it certainly wasn't because Tripp played badly," Tomassoni said.
Down 4-0, would the Crimson rally just as it did in the Beanpot against Boston College?
The second period certainly didn't appear so.
In fact, the only tally of the second stanza came from Union, when Chad Thompson finished a two-on-one by firing home his own blocked pass past Hermsdorf for a 5-0 Union advantage.
But Hermsdorf kept the deficit at five after that, stuffing a couple of Union breakaways and keeping the Dutchmen scoreless for the rest of the game.
As the third period began, some worried about the chance of a shutout. Meanwhile, a completely different Harvard team emerged from the locker room. In the first three minutes of the third stanza, the Crimson struck twice to silence the rowdy underdogs.
First, Martins drove home a loose puck to cut the lead to cut the lead to 5-1, and then captain Ben Coughlin fed sophomore Ashlin Halfnight for a shorthanded goal to pull Harvard to within 5-2.
The Crimson kept fighting, and with 8:36 left, sophomore Stuart Swenson rushed the crowded crease area and somehow poked the puck past Trevor Koenig to make the Union lead 5-3.
But despite several late chances--including several with Hermsdorf pulled for the last 1:26--the game would end in a 5-3 defeat.
"No matter who you play, when you get down four goals it's pretty tough to come back," Coughlin said.
With home-ice for the first round of the ECAC playoffs precarious at best, this weekend's final regular-season games are the perfect stage to display exactly what level of talent Harvard has.
"We're not as talented as everyone thinks we are," Tomassoni said. "But that doesn't mean we can't beat anyone."
Tickets for Harvard's go on sale this morning at 9 a.m. at the Harvard Ticket Office in the basement of Harvard Hall. Students may exchange coupon 12 for Friday's 7:30 p.m. game against St. Lawrence and coupon 27 for Saturday's 7 p.m. game against Clarkson. There is a limit of two tickets per student per game. Union, 5-3 at Achilles Rink Harvard 0 0 3 -- 3 Union 4 1 0 -- 5
Un--Monteith 10 (Ford, Satterlund) 5:56. (PPG)
Un--Monteith 11 8:42
Un--Holunga 3 (Prentice, Reckin) 9:19.
Un--Holbrough 11 (Goulet) 17:46
Un--Thompson 2 8:52
Har--Martins 13 (Konik) 1:11. (PPG)
Har--Halfnight 4 (Coughlin) 2:56. (SHG)
Har--Swenson 4 (Halfnight) 11:24.
Saves: Har--Tracy 9-0-0 9, Hermsdorf 1-6-6 13; Un--Koenig 9-8-9 26.
Power Play: Har--1-6; Un--1-4
Attendance: 2176 ECAC STANDINGS
OVERALL ECAC Team W L T W L T Clarkson 18 8 4 12 5 3 Brown 13 9 3 12 6 2 Harvard 13 12 1 11 8 1 RPI 16 12 2 10 8 2 Colgate 16 13 1 10 9 1 Princeton 14 9 4 9 8 3 St. Lawrence 15 14 1 10 10 0 Vermont 16 12 2 9 9 2 Cornell 9 13 3 7 10 3 Union 9 13 4 6 10 4 Yale 8 15 3 6 11 3 Dartmouth 7 16 2 5 13 2