Every March, the HBS community looks forward to the annual treats the final month of winter has to offer: the NCAA Final Four, St. Patrick’s Day, Spring Break, and of course, the Richard Ivey School of Business hockey tournament. As predicted, this year’s tournament resulted in yet another championship for your HBS Blades. Honestly, it’s almost as predictable as weekly photo spreads of rugby players giving each other high fives in the Harbus.
The Blades headed to London, Ontario, the weekend of March 3rd and were joined by two veterans from last year’s squad. The first, your author, contributed so little to the Blades’ winning efforts that further reference to him would be an enormous waste of space. The more important returning vet was Syl Apps (HBS ’06, OH), who made the trip in from London for the tournament. Most of last year’s team did not recognize Syl at first-primarily because he is literally half the man he used to be, but also because he now speaks with an English accent. I can’t vouch for this, but according to Syl: “When you move to London for four months, you can’t help but sound English.” Just in case people didn’t recognize his new accent, Syl actually wore a Union Jack patch on his jacket.
Apps arrived at the arena just in time for the Blades’ Friday night match-up with the University of Chicago Maroons. The Chicago team stumbled onto the ice five minutes late and made it immediately apparent that they know more about rational pricing theories than they do about defensive zone breakouts. Spotting this weakness, the Blades exploded out of the gates and did not look back. Your heroes quickly jumped to a 3-0 lead and eventually rolled to a 7-1 victory.
The Friday night victory was largely predicated on the play of Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer (ND), who tallied four goals and two assists in the winning effort. I was initially concerned when I met Sharam before Friday night’s game. Given his name, I had expected more of a modern day Khosrow Vaziri (a.k.a. the Iron Sheik) and less of a giant version of Alex P. Keaton. These concerns were soon quelled as Sharam sniped two of the nicest goals of the season, led the Blades to victory over the Maroons, and then stole the attention of every girl at the club (i.e., “It’s nice to meet you, Tom. Can you get me a drink and then introduce me to that tall friend of yours wearing his Princeton hockey jacket with his name and his number on it?”).
Early the next morning, the Blades matched Sharam’s performance in the club with a victory of their own. The Blades faced-off against a Degroote Alumni team that was perhaps the oldest group of individuals ever assembled on a frozen surface. Seriously. Their first line consisted of Mr. Belvedere, a Sammy Haggar’s doppelganger (circa OU812), and Alan Thicke’s older brother. The geriatrics initially put up a formidable fight, but it was only a matter of time before Geordie Hyland (OD) and John Strevel (OI) took over. Strevel, who brought his personal photographer along for the trip, raised the Blades’ energy level and pumped in two first-period goals. Hyland bundled everyone in sight, including the partially blind Degroote goalie, and contributed two goals of his own to the Blades’ 4-1 victory.
I was so impressed by Hyland’s play that I asked him to comment on his stellar performance. His response: “Tom, I don’t know if you’ve heard yet, but I’m going to work at Google. See my t-shirt: ‘GOOGLE.’ We don’t really talk to bankers, especially those who work at bucket shops like you do. I’ll call you if I need you to run comps.”
Hyland’s confidence and the early morning victory provided strong momentum for the Blades as they rolled into their second game of the day versus Ivey, the tournament hosts. Ivey came out firing and stole an unexpected 1-0 lead. Fortunately, an undisturbed Apps was there to save the day. He and his accent scored two spectacular goals to put the Blades back on top, and John Williams (OG) put the icing on a 3-1 victory with the greatest coast-to-coast goal in business school hockey history. Williams later commented, “That was the greatest thing I’ve ever done. Well, the greatest thing I’ve done SINCE I dug Saddam out of his spider hole. Have you seen the picture? No? Check me out: www.uscho.com/news/id,8529/HomeWithHonor.”
Perhaps the most important part of the Blades’ afternoon victory over Ivey was that it marked the return of Andy McElaney (NC) and Adam Smith (NC), whose equipment had been “misplaced” by the geniuses at Northwest Airlines the night before. “Wealth-of-Nations” Smith showed up on the ice wearing a helmet he bought the same year he published his Theory of Moral Sentiments. The giant yellow 18th Century artifact kept Smith’s head safe, allowed him to play spectacular defense and ensured that no hunters within a 1,000-mile radius confused him with a deer. McElaney showed up wearing normal hockey gear, put in an amazing performance on the ice, and later that night set a new Guinness Book record for the tightest t-shirt ever worn in Lower Canada. Congrats, Mac!
The Blades’ three victories in the preliminary round ensured a top-seed position and a spot in the Saturday evening final against the Michigan Wolverines. The final began with a Wolverine surge, as Michigan came out charging and threatened to take an early lead. After the first few shifts, however, the tables turned and the Blades regained their early tournament form. Your Blades built a 2-0 first-period lead and tacked on a later goal to take the final 3-2. Although the entire Blades team played well, the final was really a tale of two players; a proverbial “Pechet and Lund” show. Tamin Pechet (OA) and Craig Lund (NH) combined for two goals and dominated the flow of play. Both goals involved Lund following up on rebounds from Pechet shots, a hobby Lund has apparently pursued since high school. The pair amazed the crowd, and Lund, who was able to accomplish feats unmatched by any other Blade, walked away with both the on and off-ice MVP award.
Coming in a close second in the MVP race was goalie Brad Charron (OG). Charron played spectacularly in each of the Blades’ four games and thwarted opposing onslaughts all weekend. Charron shocked the crowds at Western Arena who were dazzled by his spectacular play in net and later baffled the bouncers and guests at 29 Park who were simply astonished that his jeans this year could be even tighter than the wetsuit garb he had donned a year earlier.
Perhaps the most interesting quote of the weekend was from Pechet’s post-tournament press conference, in which he spoke about the impending end to his tenure as Blades captain. Per Pechet: “My captaincy at HBS has really been a defining experience. While at HBS, I’ve managed to break free of my former job on Goldman’s prop desk, started a successful internet company, developed a multinational water purification company, and driven the same SUV as Jay-Z…I’m sorry, where was I…oh yeah, I like being Captain.”
Tamin’s role as captain comes to an end later this month at the McArthur Cup (March 30 to April 1 at Harvard’s Dayton Arena). Please come out to wish the Captain and the other EC Blades farewell, and help cheer your heroes on to their third tournament victory this season!