10 Best Games: A Study in Drama

The following is one fan's list of the best 10 hockey games in the modern history of the Harvard-Cornell rivalry. Games were chosen on the basis of excitement, level of play and importance to team's season.


January 9, 1971

At Lynah Rink

Cornell 5, Harvard 4(OT)


Two days before the announcement of Derek Bok's appointment to the Harvard presidency, the Big Red and the Crimson engaged in one of the most exciting and controversial hockey games ever played. Cornell entered the game with a five-year, 11-game winning streak against Harvard, but more importantly, the Ithacans were defending national champions, coming off the only perfect season (290) in modern college hockey history.

To top it all off, the contest took place at Lynah Rink, where Cornell held a five-year, 47-game winning streak. Cornell had won seven straight overall, while Harvard had dropped two of its last three.

Three times the Big Red took one-goal leads, but each time the Crimson battled back to tie the score. Dan DeMichele gave Harvard its first lead, a 4-3 edge at 9:28 of the final period.

With about three minutes left, Captain Joe Cavanagh appeared to give the Crimson an insurance goal. "I scored a goal," Cavanagh remembers. Cornell goalie Brian Cropper "pulled it out. It was about a foot over the goal line and he just pulled it out."

The goal judge, clad in a Cornell jacket, refused to turn the red light on. The referee refused to overrule him.

But at the time, Cavanagh's non-goal didn't seem to be that important, and Harvard took its 4-3 lead into the game's final minute. With the upset just 15 seconds away, Kevin Pettit scored to send it into overtime.

"I can remember that distinctly," Cavanagh says, "It was deafening when they scored. The ice was littered with paper. Our team was just stunned."

Cavanagh's linemate Steve Owen twanged the twines after about a minute of the overtime, but the puck bounced off the net and back across the goal line. Once again the referee failed to overrule him No goal.

With 3:35 remaining in the 10-minute overtime, Pettit set up Jim Higgs for the game-winner.

"Going through the [post-game handshaking] line, Cropper was just laughing," says Cavanagh. "I count that game as a win."