CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Fans filled the stands for pregame lineup announcements with newspapers held high. After highlights showed on the jumbotron of last week’s game at Madison Square Garden — a 4-1 win for the home team — boos poured down. The Big Red Pep Band played, and seemingly everyone knew how to clap along.
The only thing missing was the fish.
The scoresheet might have said Saturday’s 2-1 win for Cornell men’s hockey over Harvard took place in front of a sold-out crowd in Cambridge, but it certainly didn’t favor the home team. As they do every year, traveling Cornell fans and the strong alumni base in the Boston area combined to make their presence felt in a vengeance-driven win at “Lynah East” — the moniker Cornell fans have given Harvard’s Bright-Landry Hockey Center.
“They pretty much have a home crowd wherever we play them,” said Harvard forward Michael Floodstrand.
For an injury-riddled Cornell team that, after a 3-2 loss to Dartmouth Saturday, faced the possibility of entering the mid-season break under .500, the road crowd support couldn’t have come at a better time.
“We knew the combination of beating them at Madison Square Garden last week and them losing last night, that we would get a hungry, determined Cornell team,” said Harvard head coach Ted Donato.
“It was incredible,” sophomore goalie Austin McGrath, who notched his first career win on Saturday, said of Lynah East. “The crowd really brings a lot of energy, and they kind of keep you going throughout the game. When things are tough they bring you back up a bit.”
A community of Cornell hockey fans — some current students making the trip, some alumni, some parents, some just fans of Cornell — mark one day a year to fill Bright-Landry with carnelian and white.
The community that makes up Lynah East changes by the year. But there are some members that make sure nothing gets in the way of Cornell-Harvard by the coast.
Pat Boldrighini M. Eng ’10 and Joerg Werner Ph.D. ’16 are two such members. The duo which met in grad school in Ithaca became enamored with the rabidity of the Lynah Faithful on East Hill. Since their time in Ithaca, the Boston-based friends have made it an event to go to Lynah East each season.
It’s not quite up to par with the Lynah they know and love, but it’s close, they said.
“When I came two years ago, I was told it was all going to be Cornell fans,” Werner laughed. “There’s no Harvard fans.”
“I was surprised how much more passionate the Cornell fans are than the Harvard fans,” Boldrighini said.
And the Red loves playing in front of a Cornell-biased crowd just as much as the crowd enjoys seeing a Cornell team in Boston.
“It’s probably my favorite away rink to play at,” Cornell senior defenseman and alternate captain Matt Nuttle said of Bright-Landry last Tuesday. “As a team it’s always an exciting game, being a rivalry game. … Lynah East, it’s awesome when we get to see the support on the road.”
Boldrighini and Werner might not be there for the third installment of Cornell-Harvard in the 2018-19 season, which is set for Jan. 18 in Ithaca. Regardless, they know if the support they see in Boston is even a fraction of what goes on in Ithaca, the team will be in good hands.
And Harvard, meanwhile, is looking forward to exacting its own revenge in front of an even more raucous Cornell fan base.
“We didn’t really talk about it much, but all of us knew it,” Floodstrand said of the Harvard seniors playing their last home Cornell game. “But it’s nice to know we have them at their home rink in January.”