Harvard Hockey fans can be forgiven their long faces last week. Fans on the Cambridge side of the river pulled out their crimson hankies as the Harvard University men’s team lost in the first round of the NCAA tourney and the women’s team lost a heartbreaker in the final over Easter weekend.
But forget the Frozen Four; the real hockey action over Easter took place at Harvard’s Hub of Hockey, Bright Arena.
That’s right, the McArthur Cup brought the best MBA men’s and women’s hockey teams in the East together for a knock-down, drag-em out weekend of non-stop hockey action featuring the HBS Blades Men’s “A” and “B” teams and the wily Women Blades.
Unfortunately, the path of our Blades brethren was all too similar to their collegiate colleagues. The Men’s “A” and “B” teams fought hard but failed to get out of the round-robin part of the tourney. The Women made their way valiantly to the final, only to lose on a controversial play in the final minutes.
Facing off against our hometown heroes were teams from Babson, Cornell, Duke, Ivey, Michigan, Minnesota, MIT, Tuck, Wharton and Yale.
HBS Men Face an Early Exit
The Men’s A-team entered the tournament with visions of recapturing the magic from last year’s glorious perfect winning season by repeating as tournament champions.
However, things quickly went awry for our icons of the ice. Facing a usually weak Ivey squad in the Friday night contest, the betting line had HBS as 2-3 goal favorites. The Crazy Canucks from up North surprised our heroes by recruiting some ringer alumni for the tourney.
Despite superhuman efforts from Dan “Czech-mate” Svoboda (NJ) and several Paul Coffey-esque end-to-end rushes by Marco “Fleet Feet” Ferrari (OC), the reinforced Ivey squad was too much for the HBS team to handle, still suffering from spring break hangovers. Our Blades lost 6-3. Showing true grit and dedication after the game, John “Hot-Stuff” Harper (OJ) delayed drowning his sorrows in a few PBRs in order to score the 11:30 night game.
Following the loss, our boys in Crimson needed a win against an unknown Minnesota squad on Saturday to move-on to the semi-finals.
Despite imbibing some of Pizzeria Uno’s finest on Friday evening, our fanatics of the frozen pond showed up to play on Saturday. In a tightly fought match, the teams traded goals through the first two periods. Led by Italian Stallions Ferrari & Tom “can’t touch this” Casarella (NF), the Blades pushed the Gophers in the final frame and drew even at 5-5 mid-way through the period. Thanks to some stellar saves by netminder Pierre “Gumby” Grenier (OG), our hockey heroes looked like they might pull it out.
However, the fates turned fickle in the fading minutes of the period. Minnesota sent a wicked pass up the middle past Warren “Downtown” Brown (OF) and right onto their best forward’s stick. Fans watched in horror as he deked left then right and just barely managed to slide the puck past a stretched out “Gumby”.
Things went from bad to worse when Blades star forward Jeremy “J.Lo” Lynch (OB) was slowed up with groin pull and Frank “All night long” Alvarez (OB) left the bench mumbling something about “losing his Brazilian burritos.” Despite this adversity, the Blades took the play to the Gophers in the final minutes and snuck one past their goalie with a minute to play, only to have the goal called back.
And so it was…last year’s champions were put on ice, final score 6-5. Minnesota went on to lose in the finals to a blazing team of Blue Devils from that hockey hotbed down at Duke.
On the “B” side, co-captains Kevin “Slick” Simon and Ian “Not in my backyard” Northrop led a squad of b-schoolers in some hard matchups against tough teams from Yale and Wharton.
Despite extraordinary efforts from Anthony “Mr.” Burns, Leon “Rachael Sha is my fianc‚e” Hsu, Arik “Can’t miss” Mitskin, Dave “don’t call me” Helen, Mark “All the ladies call me” Fox, Andy “Slippery” San Filippo and Rob “D-Train” Drabiuk, our boys in Crimson couldn’t hold the lead against Wharton and failed to pull it out in the final minutes against Yale. They joined their “A” compatriots in drowning their sorrow at An Tua Nua in the Fens on Saturday night.
Lady Blades Come Oh, So Close
The real excitement of the weekend was generated by the Women’s team.
Led by co-captains Cara “Shamrock” Shortsleeve (OF), Sarah “Mid-Cap” Molly and Ling “she shoots, she scores” Shao, the Lady Blades breezed into the finals on the strength of victories over Yale and Michigan.
In the finals, the ladies were engaged in a 1-1 duel to the death with the The MIT Lady Beavers in the final minutes of the third, when a miscommunication on the bench led the Lady Blades to pull their goalie, giving the visiting Beavers an easy open-net winner with only a minute left to play.
And so ends another season of HBS Blades hockey. For those who missed the hits, heroics and hyperbole, make sure to tune in next season.
Special thanks to Dave Phillips, Cara Shortsleeve, Sarah Molloy, Ling Shao, Kevin Simon, Ian Northrop, Frank Alvarez, Jeremy Lynch and Marco Ferrari for all their hard work in organizing a great tournament.