Fans, Icemen Keep Playoff Hopes Alive


There was a fourth star during the Harvard hockey team's 7-0 sweet dream past Cornell Saturday night at Bright Center, a win that puts the Crimson on the brink of its first EAC playoff berth since 1976.

As selected by this member of the Cambridge media, the fourth star of the game: the Harvard hockey fans.

At a time when frustration of losing seasons had built up almost to the point of no return for both player and fan, the Harvard hockey rink rats turned into link ogres, late entries in The Most Belligerent Pass of the year Contest, which for years too many to count had been the stomping ground of lthaca's Lynah Loathsome. For two ECAC schools a long way from home. Princeton and Cornell you could color the devil Crimson.

Not that the Harvard Icemen didn't do a whole lot of it on their own. They did, outscoring the opposition 17-0 over the weekend and running their unanswered goal string to 21 through seven periods. The Harvard hokey team his packed a big punch over the last three-and-a-half weeks, give or take a bad night in New Haven. But for each goal they've scored, for each jab at the opposition, the fans at Bright have been barely one chin-cruncher behind.

In the Friday and Saturday games alone, hockey team and hockey fans combined to knock out two goalies--Princeton's Ron Dennis, a perennial Crimson nemesis, with 10 minutes left in the third period and Harvard leading 7-0; and Cornell's Brian Hayward, the nation's leader in save percentage going into the contest, at the 13:01 make of the opening period, after Harvard had spun him dizzy on the way to a 5-0 lead.


Was Harvard Coach Bill Cleary pleased with the Crimson faithful? "You bet your life. The fans have been great," he said after the Cornell game. "I love those kids. You give lem a big thanks from the whole Harvard hockey team. And tell them to keep coming and keep torturing that opposing goaltender."

Greg Britz scored the first Harvard goal just 47 seconds into the game and Cornell's Harvard is running for cover, as the fans in Sections 11, 12 and 13 have unleashed a barrage of tennis balls onto the Big Red net minder. As Hayward flees for the protection of his own bench the following make appearances on the ice: a large fish, which Cornell defenseman Joe Gallant flips back into the stands with his stick: a large squid or octopus, which positions itself just outside the Cornell crease; and finally, a live chicken--spray-painted Crimson, of course--courtesy of Kirkland House, which plops itself down behind the Cornell net before the Big Red's Paul Geiger, who sends it back into the crowd special delivers. During the ensuing clean up, rink announcer Lloyd Perbnutter blares for all to hear. "The next article that is thrown on the ice will result in a minor penalty against Harvard." When Hayward returns to his station, he is bombarded again, this time by the booming chants of "Sieve!"

"Oh, it was awesome," Mark Fusco. said "I couldn't believe all that stuff came out of the stands. It was like it was raining."

"When they threw that stuff out at first," Cleary said. "I was worried about a delay in the game. It could have killed the momentum and momentum is so important in a game like this. But, it didn't."

At the 13:01 mark of the first period. Harvard's Scott Fusco scores his team's fifth goal, and as the "Sieve" cheer rings through the arena once more. Cornell Coach Dick Bertrand decides he has seen enough of Brian Hayward. Back-up goaltender Darren Eliot, no slouch in the nets himself, comes into the game. "Second string! Second string!" the Harvard fans yell. And from the band, "Hev Eliot you're second string to a sieve."

"The crowd really meant a lot," said forward Greg Olson, who had two goals and an assist. "When the fans went crazy we just got totally hyped up."

A Cornell fan with a drum stick and a cowbell tries to rally his crowd (the Cornell fans were approximately 500 in number) and his team. Suddenly a deafening clanging emerges from he Harvard student sections, overriding all other sounds in the rink, especially that of the cowbell. The Cornell fans cringe behind their newspapers. The Harvard Gong has made its debut appearance

"In the first period, the crowd meant everything," defenseman Alan Litchfield said "Seeing the stands full and the people yelling was just great. Especially against this team. After my four years here, having to go out to Cornell with everything they do out there, we gave them enough tonight to make me happy."

Around the eight minute mark of he second period, the Harvard band says, "Hey Wade, we love you." And with four minutes left in the period, the Harvard fans, pointing first at the Crimson net and then down to the other end of the rink, start in with "Lau is a goalie, Eliot's a sieve Eau is a goalie, Eliot's a sieve! Goalie... Sieve! Goalie. . . Sieve!"

"It's a good feeling to have a crowd like the behind you," Lau said, after recording shutouts on back-to-back nights. "I think a lot of these fans have suffered just like we have through there years of not making the playoffs."