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Tonight will mark the start of what will be a close relationship.
When the Harvard men's hockey team faces off against Boston College at the Conte Forum, it will be the first of three games which potentially lay ahead for these cross-town rivals.
"For sure I think there is always going to be extra pride on the line when two rival teams go at it," said freshman Steve Moore. "But you prepare exactly the same way as you would for all ECAC games. Every game counts so there is no difference."
In December both schools will begin their holiday festivities in Wisconsin at the Badger Showdown. Although they aren't slated to meet in the first round, they could possibly meet in either the finals or the consolation game.
Then of course, there is the Beanpot. A first night matchup at the FleetCenter makes tonight's game even that much more telling.
"I don't know what to expect from these guys since it is the first time that I will play against them," said sophomore Trevor Allman. "Although I don't think that this rivalry is as big as the B.U. rivalry, it does have the potential of starting a rivalry since we are seeing them three times."
What Harvard will most likely uncover is a team steeped in talent and a legitimate contender for one of the top spots in the Hockey East--arguably one of the most talented leagues in collegiate hockey.
After beginning its 1997-98 campaign almost a month before Harvard, B.C. has already tacked on six wins to only two losses.
Its most recent--and most convenient for the Crimson--was a 5-4 loss to Northeastern on Saturday. It was a game in which the Eagles outplayed and subsequently outshot the Huskies, 45-24. But more importantly that two-goal come-back victory by Northeastern ended a four-game win streak by B.C.
That loss also illustrated the one weakness which has haunted the Eagles thus far in the season.
"This is the seventh time this year that we were tied in the third period," said B.C. Coach Jerry York after his team resurrected from a one-goal deadlock against Northeastern on Friday for a 5-2 win. "That's the nature of college hockey now--the teams are so close, you've got to make a play somehow in the third period to win the game."
Harvard should be smiling at that thought. This past Friday, in one of the most exciting moments at Bright Hockey Center in recent memory, senior Henry Higdon played the role of the hero after his game-tying goal with a mere 34 seconds left in the third period against Princeton.
That would prove to be the zenith of the weekend, however, as Harvard could neither manage the game-winner in over-time, nor could it find a "W" against Yale the following night.
"It is a mental thing whenever you have a disappointing game like we did," Allman said. "I think we learned that any team can and will beat you if you play as unfocused as we did. We want to use it as a learning tool."
The Crimson better hope its a quick study for the Eagles boast Hobey Baker candidate Marty Reasoner who already has five goals and six assists, while two other players have tallied eight points a piece.
"We want to be really aggressive, play hard, finish our checks and just really pick up intensity level," Allman said.
The rivalry, which not only encompasses the bragging rights of Boston, but also that between the ECAC and Hockey East will occur tonight.
And if Harvard doesn't get the result it wants, then it always has the next time and in this case it even has yet another next time.
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