Blades 2006 Outlook:ÿ Strong to Quite Strong

While the NHL took the season off last year, your HBS Blades were busy building the foundation for perhaps the greatest graduate hockey program ever assembled.ÿ Despite heartbreaking losses in the finals of the Michigan and Tuck tournaments last year, the Blades are back with a vengeance-adding a solid first year contingent to a returning core of washed-up ECs and ready to take on any out of shape men’s and/or women’s league team that dares to come knocking.ÿ

To review the program, the Lady Blades are spearheaded by Kristin Verdiani (OB), the seasoned Dartmouth grad who spent her off-season recruiting the best female hockey players from all of Harvard’s grad programs.ÿ And buying pucks.a not-to-be-underestimated feat our fearless men’s teams’ captains were somehow unable to accomplish.ÿ Welcome additions from the Medical and Design schools, coupled with a few talented RCs, ensure that the Lady Blades will once again be a force to be reckoned with in the rough and tumble world that is Women’s Graduate School Hockey.ÿ

Brian Astl (OA) and Anthony Burns (OC) lead the way for this year’s men’s B-Team.ÿ B-Team coach Xave Majic (OE), who has decided not to play competitively this season in order to have more time to eat, is confident in the ability of his two captains to lead the team to victory.ÿ This confidence is well-grounded:ÿ Brian hails from Toronto, so he knows everything there is to know about hockey.ÿ Anthony comes from Idaho, which apparently is somewhere in western Canada, so the same holds true for him.ÿ Brian, a former consultant, and Anthony, a West Point grad, have developed an intriguing new system for this year’s B-Team.ÿ They tried to explain it to me, but I lost the plot when Brian began uttering phrases like “leveraging core competencies” and Anthony started quoting Sun Tzu.ÿ I guarantee it will be interesting, though, and you’ll have a chance to see it for yourself as the B-Team kicks off their season at 7:30 p.m. December 11 at the Bright Arena.ÿ

Moving on to the A-Team, the start of the 2005-06 season was delayed for a few weeks after the Blades were hornswaggled by the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.ÿ The masterminds at Ross scheduled a tournament for November 11-13, only to cancel said tournament November 9 due to “lack of interest.”ÿ Unfortunately for your Blades, their plane tickets had already been purchased, and all that remains from that weekend is the tournament trophy (via forfeiture) and NWA flight credits. (Sweet.Detroit or Minneapolis anyone?)ÿ

After shaking off the logistical nightmares of the Michigan tournament, the A-team exploded onto the beer-league scene last week with a strong performance against a local men’s league team (2-2 tie) and a 7-2 drubbing of the joint Harvard Med/Law school team (insert your own underhanded jab regarding the general lack of athleticism at Harvard’s other grad schools here).
Syl Apps (OH), who can normally be found fighting with fellow classmates on the flag football field, and Tom Casarella (OF) have joined forces to captain this year’s A-squad.ÿ Syl comes to HBS by way of the AHL (yes, he’s the one you see on campus with the NHLPA gym bag and the checkered Vans) and he brings a wealth of hockey experience and strategy to the team.ÿ Casarella supplies water bottles and carries the pucks.ÿÿÿÿ

Dave Winslow (OA), the man you’ve read about in the weekly Harbus novels dedicated to the rugby team, has removed the tape from around his ears and laced up his skates for another season at Bright Arena.ÿ Ben Mandell (OA) returns to the team with his mystifying back-hand, his proven ability to go coast-to-coast, and the newfound talent of throwing a party at his apartment every Friday & Saturday night.ÿ Thanks, Ben.the EC class appreciates your hospitality.ÿ

Veteran netminder Angus McOuat (OH) makes his return to the ice next weekend.ÿ After “losing” his wedding ring in the pool in Cabo last spring break, he claims his glove hand is no longer “carrying all that dead weight,” and only a naive forward would risk shooting top-right on Mr. McOuat’s net these days.ÿ

Rounding out the A-team’s EC core, Ilya Brovin (OF) and Danny Svoboda (OJ) continue to add Eastern European flair to the team (i.e., hang out on the red line) and are the team’s leading scorers so far this year.ÿ Mark Fox (OH), who became a father a week before the season started (Congrats, Mark) has been a strong presence again this season, and has paired well with line mate Mark Narain (OA).ÿ Despite spending much of his free time with Dave Ritter, Bill Frank (OC) has managed to remain remarkably normal, and has brought as much energy to this year’s team as he did to the SA Halloween party.ÿ

RC goalie Brad Charron (NG) has posted strong performances in both games, and fellow RC’s Tamin Pechet (NA), John Williams (NG) and Geordie Hyland (ND) have proved to be strong additions to the squad.ÿ These RCs, the future of the Blades franchise, will next showcase their remarkable talents Sunday, December 4 at 9:00 p.m. at Bright Arena against the CCCP.ÿ Please come out and watch!