When one looks back at the 1994-95 Harvard men's hockey season, one sees many ups and downs. Fourteen of each, that is.
A team that was picked fifth in the preseason national rankings, Harvard (14-14-2 overall, 12-9-1 ECAC regular season) could never find that offensive spark, and that ultimately led to the team's elimination from the ECAC quarterfinals by RPI this past weekend.
"We just had a difficult time putting the puck in the net," Harvard coach Ronn Tomassoni said. "It's hard to win hockey games with one and two goals."
One year ago, the Crimson was readying itself for the ECAC semifinals at this time. That team would win the ECAC tournament and go off to the NCAA Final Four, where it lost to eventual NCAA champion Lake Superior State in overtime, 3-2.
That team also boasted five players who averaged over one point a game. This year's squad featured only one who put up those statistics--senior Steve Martins.
Other teams knew what to concentrate on in preparing for Harvard. If they could take Martins off his game, they felt they could win. So they threw their goons at the scrappy senior and goaded him into taking retaliation penalties.
"It's a disgrace," Tomassoni said. "Nobody should have had to endure the abuse that he took."
A .500 record is by no means a bad season. When one looks at the effort the team put in, one knows that the team tried hard and had the potential to win a lot more.
But there were several key ingredients missing.
Harvard's shortcomings were evident in game one back on November 5 down at Brown. Harvard lost that contest, 4-3, but in that match the following happened:
1) Brown scored first and took a 2-0 lead after one period. Harvard had to play catch-up hockey, and after it was able to tie the game in the third, the Bears went ahead again for good.
2) Martins scored two of Harvard's three goals. It wasn't a bad thing that Martins scored, but it was symbolic of the Crimson's crash late in the season when the offense was mostly Martins.
3) Harvard found itself shorthanded nine times. The Crimson had good penalty killing all year, but playing a man down tired out the team and threw the forward lines out of whack.
4) Bad luck. A Harvard goal was disallowed. The Crimson scored with 1:36 left to tie the game, but the whistle had blown beforehand, and the team still trailed.