Charlie Johnson wasn’t quite sure what to say in the postgame press conference. He had knocked home one goal and assisted another, helping the Harvard men’s hockey team down No. 11 Maine. But had he brought “the jam,” asked a reporter, echoing the year-old truism that has come to be associated with Johnson’s better performances?
“I suppose so, yes,” Johnson admitted. “I suppose so.”
The saying harkens back to last season, when then-coach Mark Mazzoleni announced that Johnson was capable of great things if he would only “bring the jam.”
Saturday against the Black Bears, Johnson did, indeed, bring the jam. The centerman has impressed of late, earning at least a point in the Crimson’s last three performances, but in his effort against Maine, Johnson perfectly epitomized Harvard’s offensive strategy that has been so successful.
Just 4:06 into the first frame, Johnson was in perfect position to wrist in a rebound of freshman Jon Pelle’s shot on goal. But Maine goaltender Jimmy Howard stoned Johnson, and several Crimson sticks chopped at the puck before it was finally lifted top-shelf for the goal.
“We’re always trying to get in front of the net there,” Johnson said, adding that his team’s current success has been the result of “getting shots through” and “getting guys to net.”
Johnson was initially credited with the goal, though a scoring change gave the ultimate nod to Pelle, while Johnson ended up with the assist. When asked how many shots he took in the fray around Howard’s net, Johnson laughed.
“I actually thought I scored it,” he said with a smile, “so I would say at least two.”
A bit under 49 minutes later, though, as Harvard neared the completion of its third period of aggressive, crash-the-net play, Johnson tallied a goal nobody was going to take away.
Dan Murphy raced the puck down the ice, feeding it left to Kevin Du as the pair streaked towards Howard in tandem. Du quickly shoveled the puck back to Murphy, who blasted a shot towards the net. This series of movements took only seconds, but somehow, the Maine netminder blocked the puck.
But Johnson was there again, in the right place at the right time, ready to punch home the rebound and give the Crimson a 4-0 advantage with less than eight minutes remaining.
Black Bears coach Tim Whitehead alluded to Harvard’s penchant for second and third chances as a major factor in the contest, and it was, of course, the result of all five skaters sensing their positions and understanding their teammates.
Said Johnson, “We’ve got a lot of flow going in our game, just chipping along the wall, a lot of skating. And that’s what most of the guys on this team do well—skate and make plays.”
And bring jam.
BELLS AND WHISTLES