In The Sun’s 161 Things Every Cornellian Should Do, number three reads: “go to the Cornell-Harvard men’s hockey game and throw fish on the ice.”
While these are in no particularly order, the Harvard game is undoubtedly a top-10 event for any Cornell student. It’s currently one of the most exciting rivalries in college hockey and it’s what every Cornell hockey fan looks forward to every season.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, this rivalry took center stage in New York at Madison Square Garden, “the world’s most famous arena,” as they say.
With about 10,000 more attendees than a usual Cornell-Harvard game at Lynah Rink, there was a lot to look forward to from this event.
And yet, it felt far from a Cornell-Harvard game at Lynah. Something was definitely missing, aside from a few Cornell goals and injured skaters.
For the most part, this installation of The Frozen Apple was a great event. MSG was packed, especially in the upper decks. The band was absolutely rolling for all three periods. And Cornell kept it competitive for the majority of the contest.
But this matchup, or any Cornell hockey game, loses something when it’s played at such a large venue such as The Garden.
The most distinctive feature of the Harvard game is of course the fish. Even though Madison Square Garden said they would not “stand in the way of tradition” and therefore allowed fish to be brought in, there was still barely any thrown on the ice. It couldn’t have been more than a few — uncharacteristic for a Cornell-Harvard game.
Perhaps people didn’t get the memo and assumed they wouldn’t be able to sneak fish into a more controlled venue like MSG, where security is much tighter than Lynah. Or perhaps most of the students, who would more likely engage is fish tossing, sat in the upper deck and out of range of the ice.
All in all, it was far less fish despite a significantly larger crowd.
When it came to cheering, there wasn’t that classic chemistry between fans that is seen on weekend nights on East Hill.
This game, unlike others, attracts Cornell hockey fans spanning decades in which cheers are created, lost and carried on. It’s reasonable to assume some of the further removed alumni are not up to date on the current arsenal of chants and cheers. On top of that, Madison Square Garden is a mansion compared to the barn that is Lynah Rink.
While the band led classics like “Give My Regards to Davy” following the opening goal, everyone started chanting “It’s all your fault!” at different times, specifically those seated far away and out of sight of the band.
To an extent, this is to be expected. At such a large and cavernous arena like MSG, it’s nonetheless difficult to carry more nuanced chants and cheers in unison.
Though at times, it was even hard to get everyone on the same page of the simplest of chants — a tried and true “Let’s Go Red!”
Even though the crowd was substantially in favor of Cornell, the edge that is normally provided at Lynah for the Harvard game was missing. This was too bad, because Cornell could’ve used all the help they could get, especially in the motivation department.
After the three-goal loss, head coach Mike Schafer said that it was, “the least physical [he had] ever seen a Cornell team play in a game against Harvard.”
Yikes. But did playing at MSG actually attribute to Cornell’s lack of physicality or the result? Probably not.
Even though it wasn’t the classic Lynah experience, it’s nevertheless remarkable to see the two rivals square off in the heart of Manhattan under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.