By Phil Stacey
---- — BOSTON — It’s all about the comfort level.
For Colin Blackwell, his sophomore year playing for the Harvard University hockey team has been just that: feeling more comfortable with the ebbs and flows that come with playing a longer schedule; balancing the scholastic rigors that come at an Ivy League institution with playing Division 1 college hockey; knowing more of what to expect in his second collegiate season; and learning to believe in himself and his own abilities when it comes to playing at this level.
So while things haven’t been going the way the Crimson would like them to lately -- last night’s 4-1 loss to Boston College in the 61st annual Beanpot tournament was their eighth straight setback -- Blackwell, the former St. John’s Prep star, is staying positive, confident that things will eventually turn around.
“Coach (Ted Donato) has been stressing the last 12-13 games the teams we play aren’t beating us; we’re beating ourselves,” Blackwell noted. “It’s one of those things that eventually it’s going to turn for the better.
“You’re not going to get your head down. We’re still a great team; we just have to figure it out.”
Harvard was done in last night by giving up goals late in both the first and second periods. The Eagles took a 1-0 lead into the dressing room after scoring with 29 seconds to play in the first period, then added two more scores in the final 1:42 of the middle stanza.
Blackwell and his linemates, senior center Alex Fallstrom and sophomore left wing Tommy O’Regan, had their chances offensively; Blackwell finished with two shots on goal and the line had five of Harvard’s 20 total. But like the rest of their teammates, the bounces weren’t going their way before last night’s sellout crowd of 17,565.
“We talked about getting pucks in deep. Their weakness is controlling the puck down low,” said Blackwell. “But a couple of times late in shifts we turned it over or they caught us in a late (line) change, and they ended up capitalizing.
“It’s just one of those things: (call it) snakebitten, no puck luck ... the puck’s just not falling for us.”
Donato, the former Bruin now in his ninth season behind the Harvard bench, concurred.
“That line, (center Alex) Fallstrom did break in alone once, Blackwell created some good chances ... but when we did have our chances, I’m not sure we took full advantage of them,” Donato said.
Three key elements -- routine, organization and time management -- have been the norm for Blackwell in-season. He’s careful what he puts into his body in terms of his diet, is always cognizant of what he needs to do in the classroom and giving himself enough time to do the best work possible; and he remembers (and still follows) something his former lacrosse coach at St. John’s Prep, John Roy, told him about the best sleep before game day coming two nights prior.
Blackwell had recorded points in three of his last four games before last night and has put up solid 3-7-10 numbers in 15 games thus far. He saw significant time against Boston College on both the top power play and penalty killing units for Harvard.
Prior to last night’s game, Blackwell had said the Crimson coaches were on him to shoot the puck more, believing he has the potential to step up and become more of an offensive threat. In that regard, he said, the coaches have been working with him on cutbacks behind the opposing team’s net and for Blackwell to use his speed and quickness to create such opportunities, getting those cutbacks and jams into the blue paint (”We call it ‘The Big Man’s Club,’” Blackwell joked) that often result in goals.
“It’s one of those things you want to take the puck to the net and get shots on net. In a game like this, no shot’s a bad shot,” said Blackwell, who missed five games earlier this season with an in-game injury. “Coming in I said (to myself) everything I get the puck, whether there’s someone on me or not, try to shoot the puck or try to make something happen by getting it down low.”