On Wednesday evening, former Bruin and NHL legend Bobby Orr will be in Cambridge to sign copies of his achievement-filled autobiography. Merely a short walk across the river on that same night, the Harvard men’s ice hockey team and the Boston College Eagles will vie for achievements of their own in the crosstown matchup.
“It’s a rivalry,” sophomore forward Jimmy Vesey said. “Both teams are not that far apart…. There’s definitely something on the line.”
Less than a week ago, the Crimson (3-4-1, 2-4-1 ECAC) snapped a four-game losing streak with a 5-3 win over Princeton. Prior to the losing streak, Harvard upset No. 10 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a 2-0 victory.
“A lot of things are clicking for us, you know, even though we lost those few games,” freshman forward Tyler Moy said. “I feel like we actually deserve a lot more than what we ended up getting, but it was definitely nice at Princeton.”
Boston College, however, will prove to be more of a challenge. Ranked No. 7 with a 7-2-2 overall record, the Eagles come into the game with an average of 4.45 points per game, the best in the NCAA. BC will also feature the top-ranked scorer in the nation, junior Johnny Gaudreau, a 2011 fourth-round draft pick by the Calgary Flames.
Despite the statistical advantages of Boston College, Harvard still has a chance of playing right at the level of the Eagles. Such a performance was on display in last Friday’s close loss against No. 4 Quinnipiac, where the Crimson fell short by just a point after a last-minute surge.
The Bobcats, with a season record of 11-1-1, narrowly escaped the comeback after a no-goal review with less than a minute to go and consequently won the game, 3-2.
“Anyone can beat anyone,” Moy said. “We [put in] a lot towards the end there, it could’ve easily gone the other way. There were a bit too many penalties, and we got ourselves in a hole, so I feel that the outcome of that game could have easily been changed, one shot or another. But I mean, I think that playing those tough games…gives us perspective that we can handle these types of games and it’s not something that we should be intimidated by.”
On that point, Vesey agrees.
“That game could’ve went either way,” he said. “They’re one of the best teams in the country, so I think we’re feeling good about tomorrow.”
In Harvard’s 120th matchup against Boston College, Vesey will have a chance to keep his recent goal streak alive. The 2012-13 Ivy League Rookie of the Year has scored at least one goal in the past four games he has played, totaling six goals so far this year. Sophomore forward Brian Hart will also have a chance to showcase his skills, having at least a single assist in the past four games.
“I’m just going to try to do whatever it takes for the team to win,” Vesey said. “There’s a lot more than scoring goals. Boston College is a high offense team, so…we’ll take it from there.”
Veteran goalkeeper Raphael Girard, on the other hand, will look to hold his own on the defensive side of the game. Girard, who leads the nation in both save percentage (.955) and goals against average (1.52), has shut out two teams in four starts.
“I think we have two good goalies,” Vesey said. “Both played very well this season, and I’m not sure which one’s going to start tomorrow, but I think goaltending is more of a strength, and it could be a difference.”
The Eagles currently have an eight-game win streak against the Crimson, last losing to Harvard in 2006. The Crimson will look to take advantage of this past weekend’s momentum to snap the streak Wednesday night.
“We don’t get to play them [as much], being in different leagues,” Moy said. “So it’s always good to play a crosstown rival. I didn’t get too much of it growing up; being in San Diego, most of the teams were in LA…so I’m happy to jump into this new rivalry here in Boston for the next four years. It should be a fun game. It’s always great to play when you’re somewhere close to home, especially when the other team is pretty good, too.”
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