Harvard Faces Off Against Long-Time Rival Cornell Tonight

With a 4-2-1 overall record, it would be wrong to say that the No. 18 Harvard men’s hockey team is having a tough season.

Yet despite the winning record, the Crimson has yet to notch a win on the road and has been consistently plagued by penalties. The team will have to find a way to overcome both these weaknesses as well as a large and unfriendly home crowd to get the win tonight when it faces No. 14 Cornell (2-0-2) at the James Lynah Rink in Ithaca, NY.

“Playing at Cornell is unlike playing anywhere else,” co-captain Brian McCafferty said. “For us, it’s always a big game and to get a win out at Cornell would be a highlight of the season. To do it, we’ve got to stay out of the penalty box because that’s been our cancer so far. Another thing that we’re concentrated on is a quick start. Cornell’s a real hostile environment. Maybe we can settle the crowd down a little bit if we score early.”

To get the early goal, the Crimson must find a way to penetrate the Big Red’s stalwart defense, anchored by junior goaltender Ben Scrivens, who leads the nation with a 0.977 save percentage and a goals-against average of 0.72. Also, the Cornell defense has only allowed three goals the entire season and has killed 21 of its 22 penalties against.

“Cornell’s a very defensive team and they don’t give up much,” Fraser said. “They don’t give you a whole lot of opportunities to score. We have to come out hard at the start and capitalize on the opportunities Cornell gives us.”

Harvard did exactly that in its 3-1 win over the Big Red in the semifinals of the ECAC tournament last season—the last time the two teams met. In that matchup, the Crimson scored all three of its goals on power plays—with two of them coming less than a minute apart.

In addition to offensive firepower, Harvard must also look to its own defense to help the team to a win. The Crimson ranks fifth in the nation in scoring defense and has only allowed three even-strength goals so far this season.

“Our game plan is to use our speed and skill and try to outmaneuver bigger guys,” McCafferty said. “We’ve done some drills to get the defense used to how they forecheck. We also always go over power plays and special teams and understanding what they do on their power play.”

The two teams have a long history—dating back to 1910—and the two schools’ dominance in the Ivy League has only deepened the rivalry. Either Cornell or Harvard has been league champion 37 times out of a total of 54 seasons. The Crimson has defeated the Big Red in the last four meetings.

“The rivalry goes back so long it’s just a big game to play and the two teams meet in a lot of big championships,” co-captain Jimmy Fraser said. “We get excited to play all the teams in our league, but for some reason Cornell is the one we look forward to the most.”

After Harvard takes on Cornell, the team will travel to Hamilton, NY, to take on Colgate (4-3-1). The Crimson skated to a 3-3 tie with the Raiders in the teams’ last meeting.

—Staff writer Lucy D. Chen can be reached at



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