The biggest Ivy League game of the year kicks off at 2 p.m. today, as the Crimson icemen travel to the frozen land of upstate New York to take on the Big Red of Cornell in Ithaca.
The winner of the game should go on to reign as Ivy champion, barring any losses in the last week of league play. Cornell will be shooting for an unheard of eighth straight championship, while the Crimson will be looking to end a long 10-year drought. The outcome will also have a strong influence on the ECAC Division I rankings.
Winning in Ithaca is no easy matter, although Boston University managed to do it quite convincingly this year during the days of their star player Dick Decloe. Clarkson also beat the Big Red on their home ice early in the season. But after a shaky start, Cornell has come on strong, and are now 15-4 overall and 7-1 in the Ivies.
Bad Cases of Frostbite
For Harvard, winning at Ithaca happens about as often as the California Golden Seals beating the Canadians in the Montreal Forum. It has been about ten years since the Crimson have returned from Cornell with anything more than frostbite. They've come close on several occasions, losing 7-6 in 1967 and sending the 1971 contest into overtime before succumbing to a 5-4 defeat.
Cornell has not had many problems winning in Cambridge; they won in their last outing to Watson Rink by a 5-2 margin. This was the only loss Harvard has suffered in the league, against five wins and a tie with Dartmouth last Wednesday.
The Big Red take full advantage of a noisy capacity crowd in a small rink to psyche out their opponents. With the night life as it is in Ithaca, hockey is the biggest attraction around.
Most of the Cornell offense is generated by the first and third lines. Carlo Ugolini, the squad's top scorer with 41 points, centers Doug Marritt and Bill Hanson on the first line, while the third line of Dave Peace, Gordon McCormick and Mike McGuire has come on strong lately, scoring 18 points in the last two games.
More Elenbaas to Come
The line of Gary Young, centering George Shields and Bob Murray has been slumping, collecting only one point amongst them in the last five contests. Coach Dick Bertrand does not use a fourth line very often.
The Big Red defense consists mainly of goalie Dave Elenbaas and the top pairing of Bill Murray and George Kumicz. Elenbaas ranks as one of the top net-minders in the East and was instrumental in the Big Red's win over Harvard earlier this year. Bertrand has had trouble finding a second defensive pairing.
Harvard will be healthy as it heads into tonight's encounter with no line changes planned by coach Cleary. Much like Cornell, the squad's main problem lately has been its defense, allowing 25 goals in the last five contests, while scoring 28.
Harvard is long overdue for a victory on the road against Cornell, and they stand a good chance of getting it this afternoon. If Harvard can ignore the crowd and the cold, they can certainly beat Cornell at Ithaca.