JONNIE ON THE SPOT: Seniors Try To Handle Heartbreak

Most of them spent last week in South Florida.

Tim Pettit was in Cancun. He liked it.

Rob Fried stayed in Cambridge and, since he doesn’t know how to relax, got ready to join the lacrosse team.

Kenny Smith was on his way to the airport (and Sunshine State) when a phone call from his agent changed his course for Toronto and an amateur tryout with the Edmonton Oilers organization.

The Harvard Hockey Class of 2004 scattered after its season ended two Fridays ago.

Their travels and thoughts took them far, far away from Albany, N.Y., site of their nightmarish 5-4 loss to Maine in the NCAA East Regional.

The Crimson led that game, 4-1, early in the third period. It was the biggest, latest lead Harvard had in the NCAA tournament in a decade. These guys were going to upset the nation’s top-ranked team, shock College Hockey Nation and absolutely, without a doubt, win the next night to play in the Frozen Four—in Boston, no less.

“For the first time in my career, I truly believed we had a Frozen Four-caliber team,” Fried said.

At that moment, it couldn’t get any better.

Then, it got hauntingly worse.

The Black Bears scored four unanswered goals to win. Harvard fans lurched forward with each goal, mouths agape, as if they’d all been socked in the gut. By the middle of the third period, it was clear Maine wouldn’t be stopped. The only question was whether the Black Bears would win, or simply run out of time.

Greg Moore scored to give Maine its first lead of the game with 4:10 left. And, after the Crimson made a futile attempt to change its mindset from timidly defensive to desperately offensive, it was over.

When the horn sounded, all that Harvard’s seniors could do was hug and cry. For the eight of them who lived and ate and slept and watched TV and studied together for four years, that was it.

No more games together. No more North Country road trips. No more Mark Mazzoleni-authentic mixed metaphors. No more kangaroo court sessions.

And, one week later, it’s that feeling of loss—rather than the loss itself—that seems to pain Harvard’s seniors the most. And, at the same time, make them feel a little better.

Fried described this year’s team as “hands down the best group of guys I have ever played with.”