It's a perfect opportunity and a virtually no-lose situation.
When the Harvard men's hockey team (1-3-1, 1-2-1 ECAC) takes the ice against Boston University tonight at Bright Hockey Center, it has a chance to knock off the No. 2 team in the nation. According to the pundits at least, a loss would be acceptable and a win would be an event.
"It's a great opportunity for us," said senior Doug Sproule. "They are a highly regarded team, and this is a great opportunity for us to ward off the early season doldroms, right the boat and set ourselves up for the rest of the season."
And it's not like the Terriers are unbeatable. Even though it just came off a 8-1 thrashing of ECAC cellar-dweller Brown on Saturday, B.U. has definitely shown its vulnerability thus far in the early going.
Just two weeks ago, Jack Parker's squad had more than it could handle when it was squashed by the University of New Hampshire, 5-0. And even the next night in the home-and-home series, the Terriers barely squeaked by the Wildcats, 4-2.
"I think B.U. is definitely a beatable team," said freshman defenseman Liam McCarthy. "We won't be satisfied unless we win the game."
This renewed Crimson confidence stems from its almost win against No. 8 Boston College exactly one week ago. It was a contest which saw the Eagles crawl back from a 3-1 deficit to win in overtime.
"It was a confidence booster just to know that we can play, and probably could have beaten a Top 10 team," McCarthy said. "And it's the same situation for B.U.--just another cross-town rival."
The only difference here, however, is that the Terriers boast perhaps the best player in the nation--namely Chris Drury. The younger brother of Harvard great Ted Drury '94, possesses much of the same speed and skill and has already tallied a team-high six goals.
In addition, the Terrier blueline should send off a warning signal to the Crimson. Through a mere seven games, sophomore defenseman Tom Poti has racked up four goals and nine assists. It's not often that your leading point getter is a blueliner. But for the Crimson the key may lie in a realm quite separate from the stat sheets and game previews.
"A major key to beating B.U. is to not get overwhelmed with the fact that they are B.U.," Sproule said. "A lot of teams get beaten before they even step onto the ice. You can't play for your opponent, you have to play for yourself."
And thus the challenge lies right in front of the Crimson tonight at 7 p.m. A loss would be justifiable to most of the hockey world, but for Harvard, when the team on the other side of the ice is B.U., everything changes. The challenge, the pride and the very opportunity hangs tantalizingly in front of the Crimson.
"It's B.U. and that's all that matters." Sproule said.
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