NOTEBOOK: Men's Hockey Tops Big Red in All-Around Effort
In the 140th meeting between the two teams, the Harvard men’s hockey team defeated Cornell, 4-1, at Lynah Rink to secure its first win of the season against a team ranked in the top 25. Cornell, which came into the game ranked No. 10 in the nation, outshot the No. 17 Crimson, 35-16, but had only five shots on goal during its four power-play opportunities in the first two periods.
Harvard (4-3-0, 3-3-0 ECAC) scored two goals in the first period and tacked on insurance goals in the second and third—the final an empty-netter—to seal the victory. The Crimson victory represented the second consecutive win in the series against Cornell (3-3-2, 1-3-2). Junior goaltender Raphael Girard had 34 saves and Harvard blocked 23 shots in the contest.
READY WITH THE RESPONSE
In a first-period scoring flurry, the teams netted three goals in a 58-second burst 15 minutes into the game. The Crimson began the scoring with a goal by senior forward Alex Fallstrom. After a shot ricocheted off of Big Red goalkeeper Andy Iles’ foot, Fallstrom sailed in and poked the puck into the back of the net to give Harvard a 1-0 lead with five minutes remaining in the first period.
A quick goal by Cornell forward John Knisley, who drove down the rink and quickly put a slap shot from 30 yards out past Girard, tied the game up at one.
But Harvard was quick with the response. After cradling the puck and patiently waiting behind the Cornell goal for an opportunity, sophomore forward Tommy O’Regan skated right and evaded a Big Red defender to put a pass directly on the stick of sophomore forward Mike Seward, who in one motion hit the puck past Iles and gave the Crimson a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish.
“[In] the first 15 minutes, there weren’t any goals. It was a really tight hockey game,” Seward said. “At Cornell, there are so many fans, and the energy of the game is so high, goals like [the second goal] are big for momentum, so it was important that we scored right after Cornell scored to silence the crowd.”
OLD FOES, NEW MEMORIES
The rivalry between the Crimson and the Big Red dates back to 1910. Cornell holds a 71-61-8 edge in the rivalry, but Harvard has won the last two and emphatically defeated the Big Red, 6-1, in the ECAC semifinals last year. Harvard has won three of the last four postseason meetings between the teams as well.
Before each game, fans at Lynah will throw dead fish onto the ice as the Crimson is introduced. Not to be outdone, Harvard fans throw dead chickens at Big Red players when they visit Cambridge in one of the more notable quirks of the rivalry.
“It was a great atmosphere [at Cornell],” Girard said. “They obviously have some of the better fans in the country. It was a great time playing there.”
WINNING WITH DEFENSE
Although Harvard scored four goals, Seward said that the team won the game with its defense, forcing turnovers and getting into passing lanes to disrupt the Cornell attack. Although the Big Red mustered 18 more shots than Harvard, Cornell failed to get quality shots in the second and third periods, as the Crimson forced the Big Red attackers into long shot after long shot.
“We didn’t get nearly as many shots on net as Cornell,” Seward said, adding that defensively, the team “managed to have a lot of good stick play, [blocked] passes, [and] we got in shot lanes.”
Girard agreed with Seward, adding that he thought the team’s ability to turn defense to offense—as on the fourth goal of the game, where a Cornell turnover led to a Crimson breakaway and an empty-net goal—was crucial in building, and later extending, the Harvard lead.
“Against Cornell, we tracked back a lot, and then we created some turnovers which brought us some goals,” Girard said. “We got the puck really deep and had some really good forechecking against Cornell which allowed us to create some momentum.”