Randy Skarda doesn’t hear about it as much as he used to, but it still happens. Skarda, they say, then: Are you the one who hit the post?
These days Skarda, 51, is a regional director for Eaton Vance, an investment management firm based in Boston. Which, of course, has a number of Harvard grads on staff, which can lead to some good-natured ribbing.
Because, 31 years ago this week, in front of 15,861 fans at the St. Paul Civic Center, in one of the most entertaining and skilled college games many had seen, Harvard beat Skarda’s Gophers 4-3 in the 1989 NCAA hockey national title game when Ed Krayer scored the winning goal at 4 minutes, 15 seconds of overtime.
Just minutes earlier the Gophers broke out of their zone, through neutral ice, into the Harvard end. Skarda got the puck racing into the right circle, let it fly, but it hit the near post to the goalie’s left.
“I try thinking about that as little as possible,” Skarda joked recently.
This was a game with a lot of skill. Many feel this Gophers team — which had nine players with 30 or more points, a returning 1988 Olympian in Dave Snuggerud and players such as Tom Chorske, Jason Miller and brothers Peter and Ben Hankinson — was coach Doug Woog’s best.
“I would agree,” said Skarda, a defenseman who had 30 points that season.
“It was loaded with talent. Not a weak link in that lineup.”
Harvard was no slouch, either. Lane MacDonald and Allen Bourbeau were returning Olympians and Ted Donato, who had two goals in that final, was on that roster.
Indeed, it was Donato’s second goal, at 7:07 left in the third, that put Harvard up 3-2.
The Gophers got it back on Peter Hankinson’s goal — with Skarda getting an assist — with 3:26 left in regulation.
And then, overtime.
“The two best teams met in the finals,” Skarda said. “I still say, if it was a seven-game series, we would win four. … If we could do it all over again, all of our guys in our 50s, we would like to try it.”
There is video of Skarda hitting the post on YouTube.com. As a gag, a portfolio manager at his firm tracked down the video and played it in front of Skarda and about 500 other people at a national sales meeting years ago.
But as years have passed, that sort of thing has died down. Skarda said he still hasn’t watched the game, start to finish, since playing in it. But he remembers it.
“That was the heyday of college hockey,” he said. “Trying to get into a Gophers game was like trying to get into Lambeau Field to see the Packers. It was an exceedingly fast, high-skilled game between the teams.
‘Unfortunately it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it. But it was, I’m sure, a great game to watch.”