The incredible length of the trip to Cornell gives a visit to Lynah Rink and its infamous lans the flavor of a pilgrimage. Six hours on the road heightens the anticipation of seeing--no experiencing 4100 Cornellians pouring out their pure hatred for the Harvard hockey team.
Lynah appeared perfectly ordinary 90 minutes before game time; a bit bigger and less modern than Bright Center. The first hint of what lay ahead came on learning that what seemed to be 25 fans milling about in the stands was actually the crowd control crew. Its task: to spend the whole game in the bottom rows, backs to the action, watching for students ready to trash the ice.
A policeman busily scoured the stands for debris dead fish, live chickens, etc., students might have smuggled into Lynah earlier. "It's a traditional garbage game, if you know what I mean," he said.
By the end of pre-game warm-ups, there were as many fans in the arena as there are on a typical night at Bright by 7:30 p.m. And when goalie Darren Eliot led the big Red on the ice, thousands of vocal cords went to work, and Lynah became a madhouse.
From then on, it was a performance, a repetition of various cheers, stunts, and intimidate-the-opposition tactics perfected over the years: the fans pretending to read newspapers when the Harvard team was introduced and throwing them in the air when the Big Red skated to center ice, the deafening cry of "Screw B.U. Harvard too!"; the slow, neurotic chanting of an opposing player's name (both Olsons were targeted); and, especially, the rhythmic clapping, led a by a student tapping a cowbell.
During the second intermission, the fish and fowl finally appeared, and the roaring was a great as for a goal. A number of fans were appalled the chicken tied to the Crimson goal was dead' "I've been to these games a long time," sighed the official timekeeper, Mike McHugh (Cornell 50)," and they've always had live ones."
For the loonies, the climax came with a minute left and Cornell's win assured. A particularly crazed student he must have been known to the crowd beforehand--stood to lead a well coordinated and amazingly loud chant of "Which team is the winning team? Which team is the losing team..."
For me, easily spotted as an unhappy Harvard fan at an exposed press desk in a student section, the climax came at the buzzer, when crumpled newspapers flew over my head onto the ice and I was nailed by a well-aimed, half-eaten banana.
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The posters up around campus advertising tonight's game say "The team to beat" without making it clear whether that's Brown or Harvard. After all, for six team so far, Brown has been the team to beat, and an easy one to beat at that.
The Bruins, next-to-last in the ECAC last year, had hopes of improving, with 21 returning lettermen and a new coach. Herb Hammond. Division II Coach of the Year in 1981. But the Bruins are still winless; Northeastern annihilated them, 8-0, the last time out. Not a bad team to face when trying to rebound from a big loss.