ITHACA, N.Y.--Harried by a frenzied, overflow crowd of 4400 and the usual smattering of sleves and dead fish, the Harvard hockey team dropped a 7-3 decision to a fired-up, talented Cornell squad here at Lynah Rink Saturday night.
The loss, which ended a seven-game Crimson unbeaten streak that had encompassed all of February, just about eliminates Harvard from ECAC playoff competition.
The icemen had a brief glimmer of hope when captain Tom Murray scored a shorthanded goal to cut the Cornell lead to 5-3 at 10:38 of the third period. But the red-hot Cornell power play, which had already connected twice on the evening, clicked again at 11:53, when Geoff Roeszler gunned a slapshot past Crimson goalie Mark Whiston to clinch the victory.
The fish? Oh, they're just part of an age-old tradition of unstable behavior by the Ithaca masses. This year's festivities were no different from any other--the live chicken tied to the goalpost between periods, the effigies, the chants, the sieves, and finally, as the Crimson took the ice to begin the final period, the combined output of Lake Cayuga and ponds beyond flying out of the stands, aimed at the hated Crimson jerseys. Pretty funny.
When the piscine onslaught continued during play, referee Pierre Belanger took measures to control the crowd, punishing the Big Red with a two-minute minor for delay of game.
But buoyed by the ecstasy of a three-goal lead, the slap on the wrist failed to contain the horde and the taunts and chants--though not the fish--continued. On the ice, Harvard's famously inept power play had no success against the Cornell penalty-killers, and designated jailbird Brock Tredway left the box two minutes later with the score unchanged.
"The crowd was just amazing, it really helped us out," Tredway, Cornell's alltime leading scorer, said after the game. "I'ver never heard them so loud as when we came out on the ice. It's incredible."
Senior Tredway pumped home goals no. 105 and 106 lifetime, and chipped in with his 90th and 91st career assists to lead the Big Red to its third straight win.
Just 44 seconds into the game, he dumped Mark Whiston's save of a Joe Gallant wrist shot into the open right side of the net for a 1-0, first-shift lead.
And with Michael Watson off the ice for cross-checking, Roeszler scored his first of two from the point at 12:34. The crowd, obviously, went bonkers. And it didn't get any better.
Tredway flicked home his second at 15:27, intercepting a Neil Sheehy clearing pass for an unassisted, power play goal. And following a classic Greg Olson performance on a two-on-one break with Murray to trim the margin to two at 15:59, Bill Cole made it 4-1, taking a pass from Tredway, circling behind the net, and beating Whiston to the right post just 22 seconds before the end of the period.
The second period's lone goal, a three-on-one rifle by the goon-of-the-month Karl Habib at 16:25, upped the margin to 5-1, and despite another lamplighter by Olson (his 17th) and Murray's shorthanded effort, the icemen couldn't close the gap. The loss dropped the Crimson to 8-10-1 ECAC and 11-12-1 overall. Cornell is 10-9-1 in conference play.
"They are a very good hockey team," a philosophic coach Billy Cleary said after the game. "We were just outplayed."
And so the near-miraculous playoff run ended here, beneath the wooden rafters of Lynah Rink. The icemen have two league games remaining--at Vermont and Dartmouth--but even a pair of wins won't mean much unless Yale and Cornell lose everything. Since they play each other next Saturday night, that isn't likely.
THE NOTEBOOK: Freshman center Phil Falcone's season ended a few games early when an injury he suffered in Friday night's contest at Princeton was diagnosed as a broken hand. He did not play Saturday, and will be lost for next weekend... Cornell's Darren Eliot kicked away 29 shots, while Whiston repulsed 37. Look for third goalie Steve Better to get some varsity experience and play one of next weekend's games. Scoring: C, Tredway (Korling, Gallant) 0:44; C, Roeszler (Cole) 12:34; C, Tredway (unassisted) 15:27; H, Olson (Murray, Burks) 15:59; C, Cole (Tredway, Korling) 19:33; C, Habib (Tobin, Gallant) 16:25: H, Olson (Murray) 1:11; H, Murray (Olson, Code) 10:38; C, Roeszler (Tredway, Cole) 11:53; C, Tobin (Duffy, Habib) 13:17. Saves: C. Ellot 29; H. Whlston 37
Scoring: C, Tredway (Korling, Gallant) 0:44; C, Roeszler (Cole) 12:34; C, Tredway (unassisted) 15:27; H, Olson (Murray, Burks) 15:59; C, Cole (Tredway, Korling) 19:33; C, Habib (Tobin, Gallant) 16:25: H, Olson (Murray) 1:11; H, Murray (Olson, Code) 10:38; C, Roeszler (Tredway, Cole) 11:53; C, Tobin (Duffy, Habib) 13:17. Saves: C. Ellot 29; H. Whlston 37