Courtesy of Cornell Athletics

The 1969-70 men's hockey team was reunited in 2020, 50 years after their historical season.

March 3, 2021

Looking Back on Men’s Hockey’s Path to Undefeated 1969-70 Season

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In one of the most outstanding efforts by an NCAA men’s hockey team, Cornell men’s hockey became the first — and so far, only — team to capture a national championship without suffering a single loss or draw during the 1969-70 season.  

Cornell’s incredible 29-0-0 campaign began with an 8-2 stomping of Western Ontario, and from there, the Red continued to dominate, closing the first stretch of the season on a seven-game winning streak. 

The lone scare came in a road matchup against Brown, when Cornell eked out a 5-4 overtime victory. Despite staring at a one-goal deficit in the third period, junior forward Brian McCutcheon came up with a power-play score to force an additional period of play. 

The ensuing overtime period ended after a mere 34 seconds thanks to senior defenseman Dan Lodboa, who forced a Brown turnover and then found the back of the net. The Red’s victory in this contest became only one of five contests during the entire season that was decided by one goal. 

During the holiday season, Cornell continued its hot streak, picking up victories over familiar foes, including Rensselaer, St. Lawrence, Boston University and Colgate. In that slate, the Red outscored its opponents, 25-6, including a 9-0 blowout of Rensselaer. 

As the Red entered the conference portion of the regular season, it only maintained its dominance. Aside from a 2-1 victory at Toronto, Cornell rarely endured close games. While its home showdown against Dartmouth only ended in a 3-2 decision in favor of the Red and was certainly an exception, Cornell walloped that same opponent a week and a half later, shellacking the Green by a 14-0 margin. 

In that 14-0 blowout, 17 different players tallied at least one point, with junior forward Bob Aitchison leading the way with five points, despite having entered the contest with only two goals on the season. 

Though Cornell encountered tough challenges from several of its opponents over the course of the season, the team entered the ECAC Championship on an offensive roll, having scored a whopping 41 goals during the final four games of the regular season. 

That momentum carried over in the first round of the ECAC playoffs with a 6-1 beatdown of St. Lawrence. In the next round, though, the Red faced a much stiffer test in the form of the rival Crimson. In the span of just four minutes, Harvard’s attack came alive, beating junior netminder Brian Cropper three times to put the Crimson up 3-1, marking the first time all season the Red trailed by two goals. 

Cornell buckled down, responding with four straight goals, but Harvard quickly scored two of its own to make it 5-5 in the final frame. But a penalty was called on the Crimson after its fifth goal, and sophomore forward Larry Fullan capitalized on the ensuing power play, giving the Red a 6-5 lead that it never relinquished. 

Having claimed victory in the last three ECAC Championships, Cornell sought a fourth title, but it would have to first defeat Clarkson to achieve that honor. Like its previous game against Harvard, the Red fought hard to grind out a victory. 

In a back-and-forth contest between two exceptional goalies, Cropper and Clarkson’s Bruce Bullock, it was ultimately Cropper and the Red who prevailed. With the game tied at two apiece, senior forward John Hughes fired a shot past Bullock in the waning seconds of the third period, clinching the Red’s fourth straight ECAC title. 

With a perfect regular season under its belt, Cornell only had two more opponents in its way of achieving national glory. In the first contest of the NCAA Tournament against Wisconsin, the Red faced an initial deficit after the Badgers scored an early goal.

But in the final two frames, Cornell completely smothered the Badgers’ offense, only conceding four shots. Meanwhile, the Red finally broke through in the third period, notching two goals against Wisconsin goaltender Wayne Thomas to vault itself into the National Championship game. 

Cornell’s final opponent was a familiar titan — Clarkson. The Golden Knights hoped to avenge their loss in the ECAC title game and spoil the Red’s perfect season in Lake Placid. In the early going, Clarkson appeared on track to do just that, scoring in the first 20 seconds of the national title game. 

During the first two periods, the teams alternated leads before the Red pulled away in the last period. Buoyed by Lodboa’s three third-period goals, Cornell secured a 6-4 victory over Clarkson, clinching the program’s second national title while also etching its name in NCAA history by becoming the only undefeated national champion. 

In the years since, Cornell has still retained a strong program, especially under head coach Mike Schafer ’86. That being said, it remains fairly unlikely that the Red — let alone any other NCAA men’s hockey squad — will be able to achieve the same heights of the 1969-70 Cornell team