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BOSTON--Maybe it wasn't the game to write home about. After the disastrous first stanza, which left the Harvard men's hockey team staring upward from a 4-0 hole against Boston College, it seemed like last night would be an evening to forget for the skaters.
But the final score of 7-6 gives no indication of Harvard's early troubles. And the catalyst for the comeback was the phenomenal play of senior forward Steve Martins.
"Martins was spectacular," Harvard coach Ronn Tomassoni said.
Martins managed to draw five penalties during the game, sending B.C. players to the sin bin at an alarming rate and created the power-play opportunities that vaulted Harvard back into the game. "I wanted to get under their skin, and I think I did that," Martins said.
There can be little doubt about that.
With four minutes remaining in the second period and Harvard on a power play while down 5-1, Martins took one for the team. Although he received a minor, he goaded his B.C. aggressor into four minutes in penalties, giving Harvard a two-man advantage on which they capitalized at both ends.
Martins continued the relentless assault on B.C. goalie Greg Taylor, scoring with four minutes gone in the third period off a blistering shot the deflected off Taylor's glove. He also notched the final tally of the game, scoring with four minutes left to bring Harvard to make the score 7-6.
Despite the hard-fought nature of the game, fatigue wasn't a big problem for Martins or the rest of the Crimson.
"We kept coming back, and you're bound to get some energy in your legs," Martins said.
Despite the loss, the game will go down as one of the more memorable performances by Steve Martins.
On another front, one would be remiss not to mention the incredibly physical nature of the game.
From the opening sequence, in which a hard check on Gustafson forcibly removed his helmet from his head, to the end of the game, where Martins was sandwiched by three B.C. defenders (who appeared to do more damage to themselves than to Martins), the game was played at a very physical level.
The Eagles' third goal came during a sequence in which both sophomore defenseman Ashlin Halfnight and then Coughlin were demolished trying to clear the puck out of the zone.
Doing a lot of the hitting was B.C. junior center Don Chase, who leveled Coughlin and recovered in time to score that third goal.
Even the goaltenders were not immune.
As Harvard netminder Tripp Tracy went to clear the puck at the end of the first period, he was leveled by an oncoming B.C. forward.
Last but not least, a small tip of the hat to the Harvard faithful that braved the winter chill to make it to Boston Garden for the game.
It should be noted that it wasn't just Harvard's skaters that got better during the night.
After the second-period comeback by the Crimson, the fans decided to make a comeback of their own.
As the B.C. mascot--a bald eagle--made his rounds through the Garden, stopping in the Harvard section (what was he thinking??), the fans gave him a welcome typical for, well, an endangered species.
The folks grabbed the feathers from the neck of the besieged bird and passed them around the section as the poor eagle tried to chase them down. One creative fan ended the chase by firing the feathers onto the ice.
Meanwhile, a small tyke snuck up behind the eagle and pantsed him, pulling his shorts down to his ankles to the delight of the crowd. Not to be outdone, an older gent did the same thing. (No, the eagle isn't anatomically correct.)
Hey, it's very simple. You cross enemy lines, you get treated like an enemy.
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