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Three weeks ago, Cal Ripken Jr. added Harvard hockey fan and prophet to his impressive resume. On sophomore Henry Higdon's desk sits a small, framed white business card that reads:
Henry, finish up strong in '96 --Cal Ripken Jr.
Some might call the meeting between Ripken and Henry's father on a train ride to Wilmington, Delaware a lucky coincidence, but Higdon knows it's all about being in the right place at the right time.
"If you're there, somehow the opportunities find you," says Higdon, a center on the men's hockey team, referring to his current five-game goal-scoring streak.
Higdon has scored 15 goals in the last 15 games and is now the Crimson's leader in goals scored with 16 on the season.
After missing four games with a fractured foot, Higdon has turned the second half of the Crimson's campaign into a personal highlight film.
His two most recent scores came at crucial moments in the St. Lawrence game last Sunday. With six seconds left in the second period, Higdon scored the eventual game-winner on a Crimson power play off a feed from senior captain Brad Konik. The goal put the Crimson up 5-2 going into the third period.
Late in the third, Higdon sealed the victory with a shorthanded goal to put the team up by a final score of 8-4. He also scored once on Saturday and twice on Friday, including the game-clincher in that 5-2 win.
Higdon attributes much of his recent scoring streak to the number of opportunities being produced by his teammates, especially his linemates senior Jason Karmanos on the left wing and freshman Craig Adams on the right.
"The reason our line is having success is because all of us are good all-around players," Adams says. "It doesn't matter who goes in the corners and who ends up getting the chances out front, but Henry definitely has a knack for putting the puck in the net."
Higdon began his hockey career at the age of nine after moving from Los Angeles to Greenwich, Conn. At the time, the only knowledge Higdon had of hockey came from watching the L.A. Kings on television.
"I once watched the L.A. Kings play in their old purple and yellow uniforms," Higdon says. "I had no idea about offsides or icing or anything."
But soon enough, the one-time basketball player switched from the hardwood to the ice and began spending, literally, every waking hour playing hockey with his friends at a local rink.
After playing on various select and youth teams, Higdon decided to attend prep school at Phillips Andover Academy, where hockey was more of a priority than it was in Connecticut public schools. Higdon captained both the hockey and lacrosse teams at Andover and was named a first-team high school All-American in lacrosse his senior year.
Higdon's arrival at Harvard in the fall of 1994 marked the first of two unusual choices. Despite a legacy at Yale that includes his two older sisters and his father, who was the Elis' football captain in 1962, Higdon decided that Boston and the Beanpot were enough to draw him away from his family's alma mater.
Secondly, the All-American lacrosse player chose to focus his athletic energies on the Harvard hockey program, dedicating himself to gaining strength and speed in the off-season rather than playing two varsity sports.
"I love lacrosse and I love hockey, but the hockey season is really long here," Higdon says. "It's definitely really wearing, physically, and it's nice to have some time in the spring to relax. Also, I think the spring is a very important time for me to start working out for next year."
The strength Higdon gained after the 1994-95 season has made him a tough opponent in the crease this year.
When he is not on the ice or studying economics, Higdon prefers a quiet life of good movies, NBC's Thursday night line-up, pool and "a lot of times I just like to do nothing," Higdon says.
Doing nothing off the ice is a fitting way to pass time for someone who, lately, seems to be doing everything on the ice for the Crimson.
Cal Ripken Jr. certainly knew what he was saying when he wrote, "Henry, finish up strong in '96." In case you were wondering, Cal, it's not over yet.
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