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They come from the North Country and they are bringing the gift of a first game to the confines of Bright Hockey Center.
The players from McGill University will be the first ones to take the ice against the Harvard men's hockey team in an exhibition contest tomorrow night at 7 p.m.
While the majority of its ECAC counterparts have been busily taking on non-league opponents, the Crimson play--as stipulated by Ivy League regulations--has been restricted to mere practice.
But tomorrow night will mark the beginning of the long anticipated 1997-98 season under the backdrop of Harvard hockey's 100th anniversary.
Tomorrow night will be the start of what the players and coaches hope will be a year in which the Crimson catapults itself back into the upper echelon of Division 1 hockey.
After last year's disappointing eighth-place finish which saw Harvard eliminated by Cornell in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs, and after losing only three seniors to graduation, expectations have risen drastically.
"To the upperclassmen I told them that we have a long road to climb," said Harvard Coach Ronn Tomassoni at the end of last season. "We're not satisfied by any means with finishing eighth. This is not somewhere we want our program to be."
The first step begins with McGill.
Boasting a roster of older, experienced skaters--many of whom have played on the professional level--the Redmen will offer a formidable challenge to the Crimson.
Before the men's team takes the ice, however, the women's squad will be suiting up against the Toronto Jr. Aeros in a similar exhibition contest at 2 p.m..
This matchup will be the only pre-season game for the women before they travel to Minnesota for two regular-season contests at the All-American Tournament.
With a talented pool of freshmen, the Crimson will have increasingly more depth on its roster, adding to the solid play of the returning upperclassmen.
Sophomore Tammy Shewchuck led the offense last season with 53 points, including an impressive 38 goals in her collegiate debut.
Senior Jen Bowdoin also had a remarkable season, setting school records for both single-season saves (836) and saves in a game (53) while playing 1,593 out of a possible 1,635 season minutes.
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