They're not going to believe this in Ithaca
The Harvard hockey team spurred on by a lunatic mob of 3350 at the Bright Center, blew Cornell out of the building, 7-0 Saturday night to move within our game of the ECAC playoffs.
There was nothing pretty or poetic about the win. Harvard simply turned the tables on the Big Red, from its aggressive, confident play on the ice to the chicken, fish, taunts and tennis balls that came from the stands. From Greg Britz' goal just 47 seconds into the game onward, it was all Harvard, and after beating Cornell only once in the last seven years, the Crimson now has done it twice in one month.
Wade Law, who blanked Princeton Friday night for his first career ECAC shutout, turned away all 20 shots to become the first Eastern netminder in recent memory to post zeros on successive nights.
But the offense, which bolted to a 5-0 first-period lead and didn't let up, highlighted the difference between this Harvard team and the one that lost eight straight games earlier this year.
"Confidence," said Britz, who now has 24 points after notching a goal and an assist," is the difference. The pucks are starting to roll in now, and we have confidence that if we shoot, the shot will go in."
A case in point is junior winger Greg Olson, who had been struggling before clicking for a goal and an assist Friday night in Harvard's 10-0 thrashing of Princeton.
Saturday night, Olson beat Cornell goalie Brian Hayward three times in 10 minutes, although the third was disallowed because of a crease violation. Just 1:33 after Britz goal, Olson poked his own rebound home for a shorthanded goal and a 2-0 lead.
After Bobby Starbuck (a converted defenseman who had never scored a varsity goal until the Northeastern game last Tuesday and now has four in three games) turned a Tony Visone pass into a 3-0 lead at 5-52, Olson struck again, this time on the power play.
With Cornell's Joe Gallant in the penalty box for charging. Jim Turner flicked a cross-ice pass behind Hayward and Olson slam-dunked into the net for a four-goal lead.
One goal leter--Scott Fusco's team-leading 16th--and Hayward was gone. The senior captain, who entered the game first in the nation in save percentage, departed in favor of junior Darren Eliot, the goalie who led Cornell to an ECAC title two years ago with an MVP performance.
Eliot limited the Crimson to just two more goals, but ferocious forechecking by the Harvard forwards kept the puck in the Cornell end, and the Big Red offense never really got going. Last needed to record only nine third period saves (one, a Jeff Baikie wrist shot, was the 2000th of his career) to real the shutout.
And now the spotlight shifts to Dartmouth. Harvard started this week with a 7-8-2 ECAC record, needing four straight wins and a bit of outside lack of its first playoff berth since 1976.
Now, after beating Northeastern, Princeton and Cornell by the combined score of 23-3, the Crimson needs to beat the Big Green here next Saturday and at least one loss by somebody (Yale, Providence) to win a spot (see box for details).
But playoffs or not, Harvard has clinched its first winning season in five years.
"It's nice to end it like this after all these bad years," senior winger Scott Powers said in the locker room. "We're in the playoffs"
By next weekend, that may be true Whether Ithaca believes it or not.
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