ITHACA, N.Y., Dec. 20 -- Harvard's hustling hockey team skated stride for stride with the East's best tonight and come out a loser only in the final score of 4-3.
Third period goals by Chip Otness and Bob Fredo were not enough to overcome Cornell's 4-1 lead. But they put doubt in the minds of the biggest turnout ever at Ithaca's Lynah Rink about the Big Red's ability to stay ahead of the Crimson when the action shifts to the Boston Arena next week and to Watson Rink in February.
Third line center George Murphy stunned the obnoxious crowd at 2:27 of the opening period when he scored the game's first goal from a faceoff to the right of sleeping giant Ken Dryden.
It took the Big Red only 71 seconds to bounce back. Mike Doran skated across the blue line and dropped a pass for defensemen Skip Stanowski. Stanowski threaded the needle between Bob Carr and goalie Bill Diercks into the upper left corner of the goal from 45 feet.
Diercks had yet to make a save when he was scored upon and it took a few nervous minutes for him to loosen up in the high pressure situation.
Cornell gained its lead with 3:23 left in the period. Aggressive all-Ivy wing Mike Doran won an extended battle for the puck behind the cage with Tag Dement who was filling in for Don Grimble. Doran passed into a scramble in front of the goal and Dave Ferguson tipped the puck in.
Play slowed down in the second period and for the first ten minutes the Canadians didn't get off a shot. Jack Garrity's passing and stick handling paced the Crimson attack, but no Harvard shots came close to passing Dryden.
The Big Red first line, in a class by itself all evening, clicked at 16:37 to raise the margin to 3-1 at the end of the second period.
Doran beat Ben Smith who had been moved to defense in place of Demment at the Harvard blue line. He passed to All American center Doug Ferguson, who was checked out but passed to Doran in the corner. Doran then fed charging left wing Dave Ferguson in the middle, and the Cornell co-captain placed his second goal into the upper left corner from ten feet.
Two minutes into the third period the other captain, second line center Murray Death, passed out from the corner to brother Bob Ferguson (at 21 he is two years younger than Dave and Doug). Bob was unmolested 5 feet in front of Diercks and had no trouble finding the upper left corner.
Harvard was down, 4-1, but not out. After some nice passing by Garrity and Fredo, Otness spun 270 degrees with a rebound and flipped it over the sprawled lumberjack in the goal at 8:25.
Five minutes later, with Harvard, a man down, Fredo stole the puck deep in the Cornell zone. He warded off a defenseman behind him, deked the mastadon onto the ice and scored on a clean shot from the right corner of the crease.
Harvard and Cornell waged an even battle in the final nine minutes, two of which found the Crimson a man shy. Diercks had settled down and looked unbeatable in the nets.
But Harvard couldn't complete its comeback -- at least not this time.
Bob Carr was the standout, in a Crimson defense which couldn't match the spectacular play of the forwards, led by Kent Parrot.
Lynah Rink, which unofficially holds 4 1/2 thousand, closed it doors at 7 p.m. only 30 minutes after its general admission seats were made available to the student body. As boorish as the fans were, the game was kept well under control by referees William Stewart and Giles Threadgold, both from Boston.
The cheers, "We're number one" which rocked the rink at 7:30 were noticeably absent as the game ended.