When the public address announcer at Lynah Rink announced that Cornell would host the Harvard men's hockey team in the first round, a roar echoed across the building. The Big Red (13-12-1, 10-9-1) is renowned for having some of the most rabid fans in all of college hockey, but the Crimson (11-15-2, 9-10-2 ECAC) elicit a deeper hatred.
While Harvard and Cornell have fought some monstrous battles on the ice, part of the attraction of the renewal of this rivalry is the participation of the crowd. From senior defenseman Mark Moore (and brothers Steve and Dominic) hearing the chants of "Moore-on" to senior netminder J.R. Prestifilippo watching the crowd mimic every single move he makes before the referee drops the puck, each player falls victim to some peculiar invective.
At the heart of the fan rivalry lies fish-throwing. Before every game, the Cornell crowd hurls fish onto the ice, coating the poor opposing players in a slimy goo.
This disgusting tradition began sometime in the 1970s after some daring Harvard fans tied a chicken to the Big Red goal, mocking its agricultural school. In response, Cornell started throwing fish to indicate how close Harvard is to the sea. The hurling of seafood soon became a fixture at every Big Red home game, not just against Harvard.
However, the advent of the Crimson has sparked "the Faithful" to inquire at Wegman's Fish Store on the price of more assorted friends from the sea. One fan on a Cornell hockey message board expressed hope of getting a shark.
Through the years, Harvard has had many other colorful encounters with the Big Red crowd.
Bill Cleary '56 coached his last game at Lynah Rink in the first round of the playoffs in 1990, the year after he guided Harvard to its only National Championship. Aware of his imminent departure, he was serenaded with "Goodbye, bald guy," all weekend.
Moreover, before his final game, Cleary, now the Athletic Director, allegedly actually went into the stands and sat in the middle of the Big Red Band.
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