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Cornell's All-American goaltender Ken Dryden held off an inspired Harvard hockey team almost singlehandedly to propel the Big Red to a 4-2 victory over the Crimson in the ECAC finals Saturday night at the Boston Garden before 10.773 fans.
The victory--Cornell's 24th in a row--gave the Big Red its third consecutive ECAC championship and clinched its trip to the NCAA hockey tournament in Colorado Springs next weekend.
Harvard's defeat lowered its season record to 18-7-1, still its best mark since 1963. The Crimson's strong challenge to Cornell's supremacy won the other slot as the East's representative against the West.
Harvard meets Denver University--second in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association--in the opening game Thursday night while Cornell faces Michigan Tech--first in the WCHA--Friday night.
Cornell had won comfortable victories in the teams' first two outings, but last night it had to scramble against a tenacious Crimson sextet, scoring the winning goal at 16:07 in the last period.
Dryden was clearly the only difference between the two teams. The 6-2, 210-pound, netman was intimidating from the first minutes of the contest. Harvard outshot Cornell and had many more clear shots, but Dryden nullified the advantage, making 37 saves to win the tournament's most valuable player award for the second straight year.
Cornell jumped out to an early lead in the first period with two goals in a 52-second span, delighting the cheering sections of Ithacan rooters. But the game did not develop into a romp as the Big Red drew four penalties in the opening period and lost the edge.
Junior center Jack Turco cut Cornell's lead at 14:54 of the second period with the first of his two goals. The scrappy second line, which kept the Big Red in their own zone with aggressive forechecking much of the evening, set up the score with their hustle.
Chip Otness raced the length of the ice to beat a surprised Cornell defense to the puck, and then tipped the puck to Dwight Ware. Ware centered it to Turco in front of the crease, and he flipped it over Dryden for the score.
Cornell had a 2-1 lead at the end of the second period, but Turco erased it quickly in the last period. He won the face-off to the right of Dryden, powered through two defenders, and banged it inside the post for the tying goal at 1:20.
Harvard's fans littered the ice with papers after the score, and when the teams returned. Cornell had regained its poise. Neither team could gain an edge, although Harvard did have two post shots and a three-man break which Dryden stopped alone.
Then sophomore center Kevin Pettit, who had scored the decisive goal in the Big Red's 3-2 overtime victory over B.U. Friday night, broke the deadlock on a frenzied play.
Bruce Durno made a save on the first shot, but lost his stick at the corner of the cage. He made two more saves without his stick before Pettit whipped a shot into the upper corner past Durno's glove hand.
Otness drew a penalty 30 seconds after the score, and the Crimson never had a chance to mount another offensive. Coach Cooney Weiland put his sophomores on the ice at the end, hoping they could break Cornell's spell, and then pulled Durno with seconds remaining. But the maneuver failed as Brian Cornell scored on the open net with only one second left for the final Cornell goal.
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