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M. Hockey Loses ECAC Heartbreaker

By David S. Griffel, Special to The Crimson

LAKE PLACID, N.Y.--Sometimes it's better to be lucky than to be good.

The Harvard men's hockey team was the latter Saturday evening in the ECAC Tournament championship game and so was Cornell, but the Big Red also had the bounces go its way.

Two fluky goals by Cornell (21-8-4) and a suffocating Big Red defense were the difference in the Crimson's 2-1 loss at the 1980 Olympic Arena, as Harvard's improbable playoff run came to a sad conclusion.

"We came up a little short tonight--a few more bounces our way and we're heading to the NCAA Tournament," captain Brad Konik said. "It just wasn't our night; it was Cornell's."

Things did open up auspiciously for Harvard (13-20-1), who scored on the game's first shift. Senior Kirk Nielsen drove down the left wing, spotted senior Tommy Holmes breaking towards the net and sent him the puck. Holmes calmly redirected the biscuit past Cornell goalie Jason Elliott just 36 seconds in.

Harvard had also scored 36 seconds into last Sunday's decisive victory over St. Lawrence, but the similarities between the games ended there. The Crimson had its chances to go up by two on the Big Red, but it couldn't capitalize on the two power-play opportunities it had in the game's first seven minutes.

"I think the key turning point was when were down 1-0 and the penalty kill came up big again," Cornell coach Mike Schafer said. "They didn't get a chance to get a 2-0 lead, and then we got a fortunate goal."

Maybe voodoo dolls were the difference, because little else can explain how the Big Red managed to first tie the game and then win it.

Cornell won a face-off midway through the first period and worked the puck to the left corner. The Big Red's Matt Cooney sent a seemingly harmless shot along the goal line towards senior Harvard goalie Tripp Tracy, who kicked the puck away.

And then came the bounce. The puck caromed off sophomore defensemen Jeremiah McCarthy, who was standing several feet in front of Tracy, and veered backwards past Tracy and into the goal.

Harvard had been dominating the play up to that point, but all it took was one bad bounce to negate everything the Crimson had done.

"Obviously, Cornell's first goal took a little bit out of us," Harvard coach Ronn Tomassoni said. "It was one of those fluky things that no one can control."

Cornell's second goal was less of a fluke since the Big Red was putting heavy pressure on Tracy, but once again it appeared that Lady Luck was wearing a Cornell jersey.

During a scramble in front of Tracy early in the second period, Mike Sancimino lifted the puck off the crossbar. The puck boomeranged back out, hit Tracy's helmet on the way and trickled back Cornell  2 Harvard  1

over the goal line just 2:06 into the second period.

"I'm certainly not one to ever give excuses, but those were some tough breaks," Tracy (29 saves) said. "That easily could have been a 1-0 game."

Sancimino's goal ended the scoring that counted. The Big Red lit the lamp with 4:17 remaining in the second period, but referee Harry Ammian waived off the goal because Cornell's Geoff Lopatka had interfered on the play.

Harvard's best chance to tie the game came on a power play four minutes before the no-goal.

Sophomore Henry Higdon, who was riding a six-game goal scoring streak, first took a feed from senior Jason Karmanos and sent the puck wide right. The play continued, and freshman Craig MacDonald found Higdon all alone in front of Elliott, and once again the sophomore narrowly missed the goal, sending it inches to the right of the post.

The Crimson wouldn't come that close again.

By the latter stages of the second period and especially the third period, both teams were fatigued. That, combined with Cornell's strong defensive play, made it very tough for Harvard to come back in the third.

Just as Harvard had limited the potent Vermont offense to three shots on goal in the third period of the Crimson's 4-3 win Friday, Cornell held Harvard to only three shots in Saturday's final stanza.

"I think everyone was tired and it showed," Konik said. "They were pretty successful at locking us up, especially in the neutral zone."

The Crimson made it interesting in the final minute with Tracy pulled for an extra attacker, keeping the puck in the Big Red end for the final 30 seconds. However, nobody could get a solid handle on the puck, and with Cornell's glue-like defense, Harvard couldn't get any shots on net.

So the buzzer sounded and the Cornell team surrounded Elliott, who was named the tournament's MVP, while all Harvard could do was watch and wonder, "what if..."

But whatever happened, or didn't happen, on Saturday, Harvard made the most out of what had been a frustrating season. The team came together for the playoffs and first knocked off third-seeded St. Lawrence last weekend and then eliminated top-seeded Vermont on Friday.

Had a bounce or two gone Harvard's way Saturday, the team would now be preparing for the NCAA Tournament. But even with the loss, there's nothing for the players to be sad about in the long run.

They left everything out on the ice, and that's all a fan or coach could ask for.

"We wanted to make the most of it," Tomassoni said. "I admire my kids--they gave it everything they had, and more."

CORNELL, 2-1 at Olympic Arena, Lake Placid, NYCornell  1  1  0  --  2Harvard  1  0  0  --  

over the goal line just 2:06 into the second period.

"I'm certainly not one to ever give excuses, but those were some tough breaks," Tracy (29 saves) said. "That easily could have been a 1-0 game."

Sancimino's goal ended the scoring that counted. The Big Red lit the lamp with 4:17 remaining in the second period, but referee Harry Ammian waived off the goal because Cornell's Geoff Lopatka had interfered on the play.

Harvard's best chance to tie the game came on a power play four minutes before the no-goal.

Sophomore Henry Higdon, who was riding a six-game goal scoring streak, first took a feed from senior Jason Karmanos and sent the puck wide right. The play continued, and freshman Craig MacDonald found Higdon all alone in front of Elliott, and once again the sophomore narrowly missed the goal, sending it inches to the right of the post.

The Crimson wouldn't come that close again.

By the latter stages of the second period and especially the third period, both teams were fatigued. That, combined with Cornell's strong defensive play, made it very tough for Harvard to come back in the third.

Just as Harvard had limited the potent Vermont offense to three shots on goal in the third period of the Crimson's 4-3 win Friday, Cornell held Harvard to only three shots in Saturday's final stanza.

"I think everyone was tired and it showed," Konik said. "They were pretty successful at locking us up, especially in the neutral zone."

The Crimson made it interesting in the final minute with Tracy pulled for an extra attacker, keeping the puck in the Big Red end for the final 30 seconds. However, nobody could get a solid handle on the puck, and with Cornell's glue-like defense, Harvard couldn't get any shots on net.

So the buzzer sounded and the Cornell team surrounded Elliott, who was named the tournament's MVP, while all Harvard could do was watch and wonder, "what if..."

But whatever happened, or didn't happen, on Saturday, Harvard made the most out of what had been a frustrating season. The team came together for the playoffs and first knocked off third-seeded St. Lawrence last weekend and then eliminated top-seeded Vermont on Friday.

Had a bounce or two gone Harvard's way Saturday, the team would now be preparing for the NCAA Tournament. But even with the loss, there's nothing for the players to be sad about in the long run.

They left everything out on the ice, and that's all a fan or coach could ask for.

"We wanted to make the most of it," Tomassoni said. "I admire my kids--they gave it everything they had, and more."

CORNELL, 2-1 at Olympic Arena, Lake Placid, NYCornell  1  1  0  --  2Harvard  1  0  0  --  

"I'm certainly not one to ever give excuses, but those were some tough breaks," Tracy (29 saves) said. "That easily could have been a 1-0 game."

Sancimino's goal ended the scoring that counted. The Big Red lit the lamp with 4:17 remaining in the second period, but referee Harry Ammian waived off the goal because Cornell's Geoff Lopatka had interfered on the play.

Harvard's best chance to tie the game came on a power play four minutes before the no-goal.

Sophomore Henry Higdon, who was riding a six-game goal scoring streak, first took a feed from senior Jason Karmanos and sent the puck wide right. The play continued, and freshman Craig MacDonald found Higdon all alone in front of Elliott, and once again the sophomore narrowly missed the goal, sending it inches to the right of the post.

The Crimson wouldn't come that close again.

By the latter stages of the second period and especially the third period, both teams were fatigued. That, combined with Cornell's strong defensive play, made it very tough for Harvard to come back in the third.

Just as Harvard had limited the potent Vermont offense to three shots on goal in the third period of the Crimson's 4-3 win Friday, Cornell held Harvard to only three shots in Saturday's final stanza.

"I think everyone was tired and it showed," Konik said. "They were pretty successful at locking us up, especially in the neutral zone."

The Crimson made it interesting in the final minute with Tracy pulled for an extra attacker, keeping the puck in the Big Red end for the final 30 seconds. However, nobody could get a solid handle on the puck, and with Cornell's glue-like defense, Harvard couldn't get any shots on net.

So the buzzer sounded and the Cornell team surrounded Elliott, who was named the tournament's MVP, while all Harvard could do was watch and wonder, "what if..."

But whatever happened, or didn't happen, on Saturday, Harvard made the most out of what had been a frustrating season. The team came together for the playoffs and first knocked off third-seeded St. Lawrence last weekend and then eliminated top-seeded Vermont on Friday.

Had a bounce or two gone Harvard's way Saturday, the team would now be preparing for the NCAA Tournament. But even with the loss, there's nothing for the players to be sad about in the long run.

They left everything out on the ice, and that's all a fan or coach could ask for.

"We wanted to make the most of it," Tomassoni said. "I admire my kids--they gave it everything they had, and more."

CORNELL, 2-1 at Olympic Arena, Lake Placid, NYCornell  1  1  0  --  2Harvard  1  0  0  --  

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