Wrangle the chickens, gather the fish, it is time for the rivalry. The Crimson men’s ice hockey team faces longtime adversary Cornell tomorrow night before taking on No. 18 Colgate on Saturday at Bright Hockey Center.
The Harvard-Cornell rivalry dates back to 1910, but it wasn’t until a century later that foul and fish became a tradition of the heated matchup.
It all started on Jan. 6, 1973, when a Crimson fan launched a dead chicken at the Big Red goaltender to poke fun at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
In the teams’ next encounter on the ice, Cornell fans struck back by throwing dead fish on the rink to gesture towards the Boston area’s seafood industry.
Despite university officials’ preventative efforts, dead chickens and fish have become a running tradition of the game.
Since the rivals’ first meeting, the overall series record is 70-59-7 in favor of the Big Red.
Harvard and Cornell split their biannual meetings in the 2010-2011 season. The Raiders skidded past the Crimson in the Jan. 28 decision, 2-1, but the in the two teams’ most recent encounter, Harvard beat Cornell, 4-3, at the Big Red’s home rink.
The Crimson upperclassmen are well aware of the meaning this historic matchup holds.
“Anytime you are playing Cornell there is a bit of added incentive there with the rivalry,” junior forward Conor Morrison said. “There is always a great crowd. Whether it is at our rink or Cornell’s, the game is always competitive.”
The underclassmen that will be exposed to the rivalry for the first time Friday can only rely on the advice from their teammates.
“You just tell [the younger players] to enjoy it,” Morrison said. “These games with Cornell are the ones that you really get up for. It is not everyday when you get fans that are into the game like when we are playing Cornell so you just got to tell the [younger players] to just not get too hyped up with the crowd and just play their own game and it will be fun.”
The Big Red squad kicked off conference play last weekend with split results. Cornell downed then-No. 9 Yale, 6-2, before suffering a narrow loss to Brown the following day, 5-4.
The Big Red has had some early success offensively from a variety of players, as six different Cornell players have put in at least one of the Big Red’s 10 goals so far in conference play.
Harvard will also need to be wary of its rival’s notoriously strong defensive game.
“Cornell’s strength is definitely their system,” Morrison said. “They play a really strong defensive system and they are always the same. It’s a left wing lock. They are usually a big and strong team that likes to get physical. They like getting in your face.”
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