"I know a lot of people at the school were afraid I had imported a bunch of goons," says Harkness. "At first they looked at them like they expected to see horns growing out of their heads. Never has any team had so much pressure."
Strengthened by seven freshmen, Union began this season with a 3-2 overtime victory over Northeastern, a strong Division I team. Harkness hopes to be playing in Division I soon, and that is where this gifted team belongs, but for the moment he has run into strong opposition on the Union campus. There are fears that a big-time athletic team would give Union the reputation of being a jock school.
Union swept through its first six rivals by a combined score of 60-12, including a 6-3 victory over Ohio State, then the Division I Central leader, in the opening round of Union's first holiday tournament. In Achilles Arena that night were nine pro scouts, many of whom admitted it was their first trip to a Division II school. Mostly they had come to watch Steve Baker, Union's 6'3", 200-pound goalie from Braintree, Mass. According to the scouts, Baker probably will be the first goalie selected in the NHL's amateur draft this year. Harkness always seems to find quality goaltenders. At Cornell, he won NCAA championships with Ken Dryden, now Montreal's top goal-tender, and Dave Elenbaas, Montreal's top minor league goalie.
A sociology major, Baker handles the scouts the same way he handles enemy shots—coolly. "I'm really flattered, but I have two years of school left," he says. "As a team we have set a lot of goals. And I've got my own goals. I just feel fortunate that I can play for Ned and with this team. Ned is such an incredible man. He makes you a winner both on the ice and in life."
Following a 5-5 tie with Western Ontario in the tournament final, the Dutchmen got a bit of a comeuppance. Between easy victories, they lost two road games, by 5-4 to Buffalo and 9-3 to Clarkson, ranked No. 1 in the East and No. 2 in the nation at the time.
"We really played well against Clark-son, a heck of a lot better than the score shows," Harkness says. "We weren't any better than they were, but I think we are just as good. It was a lot of little breaks, and the crowd. The home crowd really gave Clarkson a tremendous lift. I just wish there was some way we could get them at Union." Unable to get Clarkson at Achilles Arena, Union had to settle for the University of New Hampshire last Friday night. UNH had displaced Clarkson as No. 1 in the East and No. 2 in the nation, and had lost only two Division I games all year as it faced off against Harkness' squad. A standing-room-only crowd of 3,400 braved a blizzard and subzero temperatures to see the game, and it was never close. In one of the most-shocking upsets since RPI's win in the 1954 NCAA championship, Union stunned UNH 8-4 as Forward Don Marshall scored three goals.
Union doesn't lose many at home. In fact, the Dutchmen don't lose many anywhere. In their brief history, they have won 32, lost five, and tied one, and they have outscored their opponents 303-109. And just think, in two years most of Harkness' guys will be seniors.