It was the shot heard around Ithaca — a goal by junior defenseman Alec McCrea with 1.4 seconds left propelled the Cornell men’s hockey team to its first win over Harvard in the last seven matchups and sent the Red to its best start in nearly half a century.
While McCrea’s name will forever be synonymous with the dramatic win, it would not have happened without the tenacity and poise of a rookie teammate in the highest of pressure situations.
Freshman forward Morgan Barron gained possession of the puck deep in the Harvard zone and, after getting his jersey pulled by a desperate Harvard defender, wrapped around the Crimson net with just under four seconds to go, looking to make something happen. For a freshman playing in his first edition of the Cornell-Harvard rivalry in such a crucial moment in the young season, anything could have gone wrong.
But the poise that Barron has shown to begin his college career — evident as the owner of the most consecutive games with a point to open a Cornell career — came through once more, spotting and pairing up with the open McCrea to cause Lynah Rink to explode.
“I’ve never been in a building that loud,” Barron said about the moment. “Obviously [it was] a cool experience that will last a lifetime, for sure.”
The Nova Scotia native has gotten off to a fast start to begin college career, scoring in the opening game of the season against Alabama-Huntsville to put the Red up 3-0 en route to a 5-1 victory.
Since then, Barron has tacked on another goal and four assists, including the monumental one against Harvard. With his six points spread out evenly in just as many games, Barron is the first freshman in program history to tally a point in each of the first six games of his college career and is third on the team in scoring. No Cornell freshman before has opened his career with points in five straight games, either.
“I’ve just been trying to play consistently, and I’ve been fortunate to be a part of [the goals],” Barron said about his speedy start.
Head coach Mike Schafer ’86 praised Barron for the “composure” that he has shown, especially for his age.
“He’s got great hockey sense. He does the subtle things that may not be recognized but that frees him up and gives him time and space,” Schafer said. “He’s a young kid, [and] he’s getting better and better all the time.”
When asked about how to keep the streak going, Barron said that “just like the wins, the points will take care of themselves.”
And luckily for Barron, he has been able to line up alongside senior forward Trevor Yates, who leads the team with five goals, two of which were assisted by Barron.
“I’ve definitely gotten some good bounces but I’m just trying to play my game out there,” he added, perhaps referencing his game-winning goal against Quinnipiac that bounced off his body and into the net. “Hopefully I can keep that up and help the team win.”
But Barron has shined bright in the spotlight before, and hopes were high for the new forward even before he stepped onto East Hill.
He played for St. Andrew’s College, the largest all-boys boarding school in Canada, serving as two-time captain and leading his team to a Canadian national championship.
In addition, Barron heard his name called during this past year’s NHL Draft, being selected in the sixth round by the New York Rangers.
Only six games into his inaugural season, Barron will certainly continue to develop on and off the ice. However, with a solid group of upperclassmen leading the way for the freshman, he has a promising road in front of him.
“[The transition to college] has been little bit of a challenge, especially at first,” he said, “[but the upperclassmen] made the transition pretty seamless for most of us. Obviously there’s a way to go, [but] so far it’s been good, it’s been fun.