Johnson Strives for Consistency

The streaky junior has struggled with his scoring ups and downs

Fresh off a frustrating end to the 2003-2004 season, junior forward Charlie Johnson had withstood about as much as he could handle from the month of March.

In the Crimson’s postseason run last year, Johnson recorded just three points in the team’s seven March games, going point-less in four of them and finishing the postseason without a goal.

The frustration was warranted. In the regular-season finale against Dartmouth just a week earlier, Johnson had tallied two goals in a 4-0 rout of the Big Green.

His former coach, Mark Mazzoleni, called him a difference-maker, and Johnson no doubt saw the validity of the title after another two-goal performance against UMass two months earlier.

Difference-maker he was. Consistent he was not.

Those four goals against the Minutemen and Big Green comprised almost half of his 2003-2004 total—he had nine goals on the season—and he watched his point production slide from 20 to 14 in his sophomore campaign.

Last year, he endured a four-game pointless streak in the middle of the season. During his freshman year, Johnson followed up a two-point performance against Rensselaer with a five-game offensive drought.

“You get frustrated and you start thinking about it too much,” Johnson said. “You start doing things out of the ordinary. You start trying to push it too hard. You start trying to force it when you’re out there.”

Johnson sought a new title as a junior, a freshly minted upperclassman in a senior-laden system. Difference-maker was fine. Mr. Consistency was better.

But after tallying an assist in the team’s season opener, a 2-2 tie against Brown, Johnson experienced the all-too-familiar and all-too-frustrating disappearing act. Four games later, that sole point was all that stood in his offensive stat column.

“Things haven’t exactly gone totally smoothly all year,” Johnson said. “They’ve been up and down.”

In the midst of these vacillations, however, one thing has remained irrefutable: when Charlie Johnson is up, the Crimson usually is, too.

Johnson starred during the week in which the Crimson dispatched then-No. 10 Vermont and then-No. 11 Maine, tallying three points—including a third-period goal against the Black Bears that put Harvard up an untouchable 4-0.

“Charlie is a huge part of this team, especially on offense,” assistant captain Tom Cavanagh said. He’s a guy who really gives us a huge force up front, so when he’s playing well, the team’s playing well.”

And as of now, Cavanagh’s words ring true. The Crimson is riding the wave of Johnson’s current hot streak, during which he has recorded 12 points in 14 games. Since an 8-1 thrashing of Union on Feb. 1, Johnson has scored six goals and Harvard has a 9-4-1 record.

In three of those losses—2-1 overtime setbacks against Northeastern and Dartmouth and the Crimson’s 3-1 defeat in the ECAC title game—Johnson didn’t register a point. In the nine wins, he’s had 10.