When the men’s hockey team last met Harvard at Lynah Rink, it was for the Ivy League title last February. The Crimson won, 4-3. A month later, the two squads met again in Albany with another championship on the line: the ECACHL title. Harvard won again, 6-2.
For the No. 11 Red, tonight’s rematch could not have come a moment too soon.
“We owe [Harvard] for what happened last year,” said junior assistant captain Topher Scott. “We have a bad taste left in our mouth.”
Harvard (1-3-0, 0-3-0 ECACHL) arrives in Ithaca tonight for the latest entry in one of the ECACHL’s premier rivalry match-ups. In the 50 seasons of Ivy League men’s hockey, either the Crimson or the Red has claimed the championship 37 times.
“[Harvard] always has a good team and so do we,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “The rivalry has not changed that much over the years.”
This season, Harvard enters its grudge match against Cornell (4-0-0, 2-0-0 ECACHL) having endured some early struggles. The Crimson — which was picked to finish second in the ECACHL in both preseason polls — lost its first three games of the season to league opponents. During that stretch, Harvard gave up 15 goals. “We struggled a little bit out of the gates,” said Harvard head coach Ted Donato. “We just didn’t execute very well and we didn’t defend very well.”
Yet, the Crimson rebounded with an upset victory over No. 3 Boston College Tuesday night. Harvard rookie goaltender Kyle Richter made 36 saves to earn the shutout in the Crimson’s 4-0 victory at the Bright Center in Cambridge, Mass. Forwards Kevin Du, Ryan Maki and Kevin Meintel all had a goal and an assist in Harvard’s winning effort.
Cornell will take the ice tonight hoping to preserve its perfect record thus far. The Red’s four-game winning streak includes two road league victories over Brown and Yale last weekend.
“After beating two teams on the road, you obviously get a lot of momentum,” said sophomore defenseman Jared Seminoff. “We want to come out hard [tonight] right off the bat.”
Cornell’s early success this season owes as much to the squad’s offense as to its traditionally tight defense. Scott and Seminoff lead the Red with six points apiece, while senior Mark McCutcheon, junior Doug Krantz and freshman Tony Romano have each posted five points in four games. As a team, Cornell has scored 17 goals on the season and allowed only eight — ranking the Red seventh nationally in scoring offense and sixth in scoring defense.
“We are moving the puck really well right now,” McCutcheon said. “That’s what we need to do to for success.”
Tomorrow night, the Red hosts No. 19 Dartmouth (2-2-0, 1-2-0 ECACHL) in the second game of the weekend series. Last weekend, St. Lawrence and Clarkson swept the Green to snap Dartmouth’s 10-game unbeaten streak dating back to last season. It was also the first time since 2000 that the Green lost consecutive games at home.
However, the undefeated Red is not about to overlook the struggling Green in the perennial chromatic battle.
“Both [Harvard and Dartmouth] are very excited to come in here and play,” Schafer said. “We need to continue to work on every aspect of our game.”
Senior Tanner Glass (one goal, five assists) and junior David Jones (one goal, six assists) lead the Dartmouth offense, while goaltender Mike Devine boasts a .902 save percentage and 2.95 goals-against average. Rookie T.J. Galiardi has three goals for the Green this season.
The puck drops tonight at 8 p.m. and tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Lynah Rink.