BOSTON, MA — It may have looked like an innocent push (and push back) between opposing players lined up across from each other before a faceoff. However, the Harvard Crimson's Alex Fallstrom and the Yale Bulldogs Rob O’Gara knew exactly who was under the other helmet during a brief exchange at Bright Hockey Center last Saturday.
Midway through the second period of an important ECAC matchup between the storied Ivy League rivals, as Fallstrom and O’Gara lined up across from each other before a draw, Fallstrom gave O’Gara a little tap, as if to say, "How are you doing?"
Or maybe Yale's rookie defenseman was encroaching a little too much for the Harvard senior forward, who happened to be a teammate at the Boston Bruins Development Camp 2011.
"I did," said Fallstrom when asked if he knew the Yalie he chopped was a fellow B's prospect. "He came over to my side, so I gave him a little hack."
Fallstrom may have gotten that first chop, but O’Gara got the final say as the freshman blueliner and Yale skated to a 5-1 win.
"Robbie is a terrific young man," said Yale head coach Keith Allain, postgame. "We’re just thrilled with his work ethic, his attention to detail.
"We think he has the potential to be a great hockey player, and I think a good Boston Bruin somewhere down the road."
Strength was something O’Gara highlighted when BostonBruins.com spoke with him in September and gaining more was something the freshman talked after Saturday's contest.
"Really, just getting bigger, faster, and stronger, and just getting acclimated to school and the guys here," O’Gara said. "The first couple of months have been amazing.
On the other end of the ice was Fallstrom, who as a senior, is at a different point in his development than O’Gara.
The forward, who scored the second most goals on the Crimson last season despite limited playing dime due to injury, remains committed to becoming a more well-rounded player who can fit into the Boston Bruins system.
"What I feel like defines the Bruins play is hard work," said Fallstrom. "That’s what I want to base my game on.
"I want to work hard every night, go out there and play for my team."
Right now, that team is the Harvard Crimson, but according to Fallstrom’s head coach, the 22-year-old winger on the right track to wearing Black & Gold.
“I think Alex has made some great strides,” said Ted Donato. “He’s a guy we count on in all situations—very solid defensively.
“He plays the power play, penalty kill, and 5-on-5," he added. "As a senior for us, he’s gotten stronger."
And that hard-working, well-rounded desire is moving Fallstrom to the head of the class at Harvard, and should serve the forward well after graduation.
“He’s a guy who’s really improved," said Donato (a former Crimson and Bruins forward himself). "I think he’s doing a lot of things that will allow him the opportunity to move on to the next level."