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The dramatic 4-2 Beanpot win over Boston College was only 48 hours old, but last night at Watson Rink Harvard's hockey team made its fans feel as though that happened 48 years ago when it dropped an uninspired 7-4 decision to Ivy League rival Cornell.
Allowing five consecutive goals to go unanswered in a 20-minute span between the first and second periods, the icemen fell behind 5-1 before making a semi-game of it with a belated rally.
Co-captain Jim Vaughan was the hero in red, picking up a three-goal, hat trick and adding an assist in one of his finest performances of the year. The senior's final tally, an unassisted breakaway at 17:43 of the third period, capped the game scoring and gave Cornell its 13th win in 19 starts this season.
After jumping to a 1-0 lead on a Bill Hozack rebound score at 4:34 of the first and weathering the barrage of Big Red goals that followed, Harvard (10-9 overall, 8-7 in the ECAC) came back with three straight goals of its own before George Corneil and Vaughan iced the game for the Ivy League leaders from Ithaca.
A backhand drive by George Hughes found its way past Red goalie Steve Napier with just over five minutes remaining in the second, cutting the Cornell lead to 5-2. Five minutes into the third, Crimson defenseman Bob Leckie drilled home a slap shot from the point, and a flicker of hope passed through the close-to-capacity crowd.
That flicker became a full-fledged fire 81 seconds later, when Murray Dea picked up a loose puck for the shorthanded Crimson (Hughes was in the box for hooking) and blistered a slapper past Napier from 20 feet out to make it 5-4. Reverting to its skating form of two nights ago, Harvard was making a game of it.
The next event was not in Billy Cleary's book of magic, however, but belonged to the visitors and one George Corneil. With little more than 10 minutes to go and Harvard in control but behind, Corneil picked up the puck out of a group of players behind the Crimson net and flashed in front, sneaking the disk between the post and the pad of a surprised Brian Petrovek. The rally was officially extinguished.
The large hole that Harvard had dug for itself earlier in the game, beginning with Vaughan's game tying score at 13:49 of the first and ending with Dave Ambrosia's unassisted effort at 13:19 of the second, was reminiscent of pre-Beanpot defensive collapses that were presumably gone forever. Goals by John Stornik, Pete Shier, and Vaughan (again and again) were sandwiched in between, and it was 5-1 before Harvard stopped thinking about next Monday's Beanpot championship.
Petrovek finished with about twice as many saves as goals against him (figure it out yourself), while Napier picked up 21 in a sharp performance.
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