Facing undoubtedly its biggest rival and its toughest challenge thus far in the young season, the men’s hockey team (4-1-0, 3-1-0 ECAC) will host Harvard tonight at Lynah Rink. The Red will then host Brown (4-1-0, 4-1-0) tomorrow. The No. 8 Red is coming off of a disappointing 5-2 loss to Dartmouth, while the No. 15 Crimson (4-1-0, 4-1-0) and the Bears come to town tied atop the ECAC standings. Cornell sits in third, two points behind this weekend’s opponents but with a game in hand.
Last season, Cornell and Harvard met three times — twice during the regular campaign and once during the ECAC tournament — with the Crimson winning two of the meetings. Both of Harvard’s wins came in the overtime session, including the ECAC championship game, which was decided in double overtime. The heart-stopping games only added to what is one of college hockey’s best rivalries.
“The rivalry is built on two great programs, and that’s been even more evident the last few years,” head coach Mike Schafer ’86 said. “These are two good teams, and that’s what makes this rivalry.”
And, of course, the fish will be flying.
“We’re going to try to take some steps,” Schafer said. “We know that students are going to throw fish on the ice, but we’re going to try to do something after the initial fish are thrown.
“What happened last year was totally unacceptable,” Schafer said of a Harvard player being struck by a fish. “No one should be at risk. What happened during the national anthem was totally disrespectful.”
Cornell, though, needs to refocus on the ice. After pounding Vermont, 8-0, last Friday, the Red played arguably its worst two periods of the season at Dartmouth the following night. Staked to a 1-0 lead on sophomore Charlie Cook’s power play goal at 14:00 of the first period, the Red gave up three unanswered Green goals. By the time Cornell found its legs in the third period, it was well on its way to its first loss of the season.
Schafer, however, has pushed his team this week in practice to make sure that there isn’t a repeat performance.
“We just didn’t get back to work,” Schafer said of his team’s effort in the loss. “Dartmouth is a good team, and we weren’t ready to play.
“We’ve been working extremely hard after Dartmouth. We really got after it this week in practice,” Schafer continued. “We got back to the basics.”
Meanwhile, Harvard is on a roll. After losing its ECAC opener to Brown, the Crimson has put together four straight league victories, including a sweep of St. Lawrence and Clarkson last weekend.
The line of Tim Pettit, Dominic Moore, and Tyler Kolarik has been especially potent for the Crimson this season. Pettit is tied for second in the ECAC in scoring with eight points on three goals and five assists, while his linemates are tied for fourth in the conference with seven points each.
Goalie Dov Grumet-Morris has been stellar in net for the Crimson, compiling a .942 save percentage and 1.81 GAA in five starts between the pipes.
Saturday’s opponent, Brown, will also present a major challenge to the eighth-ranked Red. Although currently unranked, Brown has been in the top 15 of the USCHO.com poll at various points this season.
Brown’s Les Haggett has taken the league by storm, currently leading the ECAC in scoring with nine points. However, the Bears’ greatest strength comes in the form of goalie Yann Danis. Danis, a preseason All-ECAC first-team selection, has not disappointed. He’s already posted two shutouts this season and has a save percentage of .946.
Although it’s early in the season, the Red understands the importance of this weekend’s games.
“We respect Harvard and Brown — they’re two very well-coached teams with skilled players,” Schafer said. “I believe that this is going to be our hardest home weekend of the season.”
Archived article by Alex Ip