Cameron Pollack | Sun Photography Editor

Tonight's loss was only Cornell's second in its last 13 tries.

January 27, 2017

No. 9 Harvard Claws Back With Four Goals in Third Period to Topple No. 14 Men’s Hockey

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For an intensive, play-by-play recap of the rivalry game against Harvard, click here.

The game began with the annual tradition: right on cue, Cornell fans hurled fish at Harvard’s starting lineup. But after 60 minutes of high-intensity hockey, it ended with Harvard’s skaters shooting those same fish into the glass that stands in front of the Cornell student section — poetic justice that represented the Crimson’s 4-1 comeback win over the Red.

Looking to notch its first home win over rival Crimson in over two years, Cornell began with a dominant start over Harvard. The opening minutes of the game gave a sold-out Lynah exactly what it paid for: hard-hitting, physical play that featured more bodies on the ice than shots.

“It was electric in there. You could feel it in the first 10 minutes when everyone was buzzing around,” said junior forward Alex Rauter. “[Eric] Freschi, [Anthony] Angello and [Jake] Weidner killed like five people on their team. I’m sure they weren’t too happy with that.”

It was Rauter’s seventh goal of the season 4:22 into the second that highlighted Cornell’s fast start out of the gate. Harvard had only one real chance in on goal, when a bad breakout pass eventually found its way to Ryan Donato alone in front of senior goalie Mitch Gillam. Donato played with the puck on his stick, then sent a backhander to Gilliam’s glove side, but the senior’s cat-like reflexes kept the Crimson off the board.

Cornell’s dictating play through the first two periods gave the audience of students hopes of a nice welcome-home win over a staunch rival amid the first week of classes.

Then, things took a nasty turn.

Conceding in four goals in the third period drove the dagger into the heart for Cornell, a team that has typically been able to improve as the game unfolds. Jake Horton’s goal 2:20 into the third tied things up, and Clay Anderson’s goal off the toe of a Cornell defender was all that was needed to power the Crimson over Cornell.

“When it went 2-1, I think it was the very first time this year we didn’t show the resiliency to get it going,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “We didn’t show that resiliency to push back. The guys wanted to but they didn’t play with the poise needed to execute against [Harvard].”

“Gillam was playing strong and we were doing everything strong, and then there a big collapse on our part,” Rauter added. “Four goals in the third is obviously not what you want.”

This is only the second time this year that the Red allowed its opponent to score four goals. The first time was another loss Harvard, 4-3, in November.

“After things went down 2-1 tonight I think guys really wanted it bad and they really tried to work hard, but they just let it get away from them,” Schafer said. “They didn’t execute all the little things that we talked about to be successful against them in the first two periods.”

Coming into the night, Schafer stressed the important role that special teams would play: Harvard’s No. 1 power play unit in the country faced off against Cornell’s No. 3 penalty kill. But aided by only one penalty committed in the game, the Red’s penalty kill unit faced a man-disadvantage for two minutes in the entire game. On the other hand, the Red was awarded two power plays of its own, unable to convert with a Harvard man in the box.

However, it was not the special teams that dictated any of the scoring in the game. All goals in the contest came with both teams at five-on-five.

And after going down one, Rauter had the chance to tie the game back up, but a hard slapper from the right circle could not have hit the the post to Harvard goalie Merrick Madsen’s left with any more force. Cornell students thought it had gone in, but the referees did not even feel obligated to review the shot to the displeasure of the students in attendance. Harvard’s additional two scores put the game away.

Now, the Red will have less than 24 hours to eradicate itself of the fish stench and regroup for another puck drop against an Ivy rival. Saturday’s opponent, Dartmouth, faced off against Colgate and was dropped by the Raiders, 2-1, at the Class of 1965 Arena.

“If people had the opportunity to go in [the locker room] you’d see how upset guys are to let it get away from us,” Schafer said about bouncing back tomorrow. “They have a lot of pride in that locker room. We’ve been on a pretty good roll and I said to play that way and then let it sneak away was really disappointing. It’s a blip on the radar for now.”

A day removed from the student festivities, tomorrow’s 7 p.m. puck drop will feature another occasion outside of on-ice play. Members of the 1967 NCAA championship — including hockey Hall of Famer Ken Dryden — will be honored with a ceremony between the first and second period.