The crowd was fired up. Both teams were fired up. The pace of play was fast and furious, and the quality of hockey was as good as expected from the conference’s top two teams. But bizarrely, the game-winning goal was scored when a Harvard defenseman fell, untouched, turning the puck over and allowing a 2-on-0, which gave the Red all it would need to beat the Crimson, 5-2, on Friday night.
Sophomore David LeNeveu stopped 24 of 26 shots and junior Greg Hornby tallied the gamewinner as the Red (5-1-0, 4-1-0 ECAC) defeated perennial foe Harvard (4-2-0, 4-2-0) in front of a raucous Lynah crowd.
“I just thought it was two real good teams going at it,” summed up Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “Harvard’s got a very strong hockey team, as we do… It was a well-fought, hard hockey game.”
Cornell did its best to set the tone early. After an icing call set up a faceoff to Crimson goalie Dov Grumet-Morris’ right, senior Matt McRae beat Dan Murphy on the draw, winning the puck to classmate Sam Paolini. Paolini moved the puck to senior Mark McRae at the point, who whistled a shot through his brother’s screen and past Grumet-Morris for the game’s first tally just 1:24 into the game.
It didn’t take Harvard long to even the score, though, as Crimson captain Dominic Moore stuffed a rebound through LeNeveu’s five hole on a power play. Defenseman Noah Welch, who took the initial shot, was credited with the assist.
The Red added another goal before the period ended, scoring off another faceoff in the Harvard zone. This time, the puck came to senior defenseman Doug Murray at the point, who snapped a wrist shot past through classmate Shane Palahicky’s screen and into the net. Freshman Daniel Pegoraro and sophomore Mike Knoepfli set up the goal.
The score remained 2-1 until midway through the second period, despite a strong power play effort by the Crimson early in the period as sophomore Jeremy Downs served time for a holding call. LeNeveu made one save off his facemask during the kill before Cornell managed to ice the puck toward the end of the penalty.
Hornby’s gamewinner, which was scored at 12:06 of the second, came in unusual fashion, as Welch, a second-round draft pick in the 2001 NHL draft, stumbled and fell backward at his own blue line. Sophomore Mike Iggulden swooped in and picked up the loose puck as Hornby joined him on a 2-on-0. Iggulden fed Hornby with a backhand pass, and Hornby deked past Grumet-Morris with a backhander for the third Red goal of the night.
“The Harvard D-man made an unfortunate mistake there by falling down,” chuckled Hornby. “Any time you get a 2-on-0, you try to take advantage of those opportunities.”
Harvard’s Tyler Kolarik was able to bring his team within one again soon after, though, as the Crimson took advantage of another power play. This time, with Pegoraro in the box, Kolarik scored with assists from Welch and Brett Nowak.
“They came right back; I was disappointed,” said Schafer. “They executed on their power play really well. We turned it over.”
That was as close as Harvard would get for the rest of the game, as Cornell put two goals on the board in the final two minutes of the second period.
Palahicky, who was originally credited with Murray’s goal, broke the puck into the attack zone on Crimson defenseman Ryan Lannon, and Knoepfli passed the puck from the corner to sophomore Charlie Cook at the far point. Cook put a shot on net that Palahicky deflected past Grumet-Morris with 1:18 remaining in the period.
“Mike Knoepfli made a great play to pass it out to Charlie Cook, who once again got the shot through,” said Palahicky. “I was just lucky enough to put her home.”
Then, 40 seconds later, senior co-captain Stephen B