Helped along by the pneumatic drill offense of Cornell, the Harvard hockey team dug an even deeper hole for its waning playoff hopes with a 6-3 loss to the Big Red last night in Ithaca, New York.
The loss brought the Crimson's record in the ECAC to an even 9-9, and dropped the icemen into a three-way tie for seventh place in Division One with RPI (8-8-0) and Providence (9-9-1).
This was nothing close to the Penn and Princeton shockers over the weekend. Unlike those contests, the Crimson was not supposed to take this one, as Cornell aptly proved by taking its twelfth game in a row and cementing its hold on second place in the ECAC.
In addition to 44 minutes in penalties for both teams, Harvard had the misfortune of running into Garbage Night in Ithaca, as the loyal but degenerate Cornell faithful continually showered the ice with raw eggs, dead fish, and rubber chickens. But then again, that's the only fun the action-starved hotel management majors ever have.
But there was some hockey sandwiched in, nevertheless, as the Big Red took a 1-0 lead after the first period and never looked back.
It was up and down for most of the initial stanza, with Cornell holding a slight territorial edge despite strong play in he cage by John Hynes.
The Big Red's Roy Kerling opened the scoring at 4:07 when he deflected a Lance Nethery drive from the top of the face-off circle past Hynes. It was the first of a five-point night for ECAC scoring leader Nethery, who also added a goal and three more assists to his total.
Harvard had two great chances to at least tie the contest early in the second period. With three minutes gone Tom Murray tried twice to stuff home a rebound of a Jon Garrity shot, but was stifled by Cornell goalie Steve Napier.
Then, two minutes later, John Dunderdale led George Hughes in alone on a breakaway. Hughes, with Napier beaten, tried to pull the puck around to his backhand and lost control, yet managed to shovel the puck over to linemate Gene Purdy, who was left to shoot on an open net. But Purdy's shot dribbled wide.
The missed opportunities subsequently put Cornell at the controls. Defenseman Peter Shier notched his 19th goal of the year on a pill from the left point that snuck under the cross bar. Nethery and Mark Weiss, who had two goals and three assists on the evening, got the assists.
Down 2-0, the Crimson had just finished killing off a penalty to Jon Garrity when Weiss made it 3-0 at 9:33 of the second. The Big Red finished off its second period scoring show a little over four minutes later when Weiss tallied on the power play. Nethery and Kerling got assists on both Weiss goals.
Spotty Harvard pressure and a bush league move by Cornell coach Dick Bertrand finally resulted in the iceman's first score. Despite a 4-0 lead, Bertrand proceeded to throw a tantrum and a stick on the ice when Jack Hughes was not called for tripping.
A bench minor ensued, as did Phil Evans's tenth tally of the year to make it 4-1 with 1:19 left to play in the second period. Freshman Rick Benson and Jack Hughes garnered assists on the power play score, which left Harvard three goals down with a period to play.
Whatever momentum either team possessed was promptly killed off by an unnatural delay between periods (15 minutes to Zamboni the ice, 25 minutes to clear the garbage off the ice) and a rash of penalties early in the last frame.
But Cornell got the edge again, when with 40 seconds left on Liston's double minor, defenseman Steve Hennesey (one of three Americans on the Cornell squad) netted a 35-footer to virtually wrap things up.
The icemen scored 38 seconds later at 7:58 when Barney Cook slammed home a rebound off a Dunderdale drive for his fourth goal of the season. Then Nethery jacked the lead back up to four at 11:51, when he let loose a quick wrister from 20 feet out that Hynes never saw.
George Hughes closed the scoring for the night with his 14th goal of the year at 14:51.
With Cornell's Bruce Marrett in the box, the Harvard power play got its second goal of the game, when Jack Hughes passed up to John Cochrane who sent George in alone on Napier. A head and shoulder fake later, he cranked the puck over the glove shoulder of the fallen Napier.
Harvard must now win four of its five remaining games, including the rematch with this same Cornell club tomorrow night.
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