Brighton-MA — For over 100 years, the Harvard University Crimson and the Cornell University Big Red have authored one of the most storied rivalries in college hockey. The teams have shared plenty of important games, bad blood, and excellent hockey in that time, including this season.
Back on November 11th, the teams faced off in Ithaca and Cornell escaped with a 3-2 victory. Since then, Harvard has been a roller coaster while Cornell has dominated the sport.
The teams met again on Friday night at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center, with Cornell looking to take the top spot in the ECAC and the national polls while Harvard wanted to build on their recent momentum to climb the standings. Unfortunately for the Crimson, the loud Cornell fans, Anthony Angello, and Matt Galajda turned Bright-Landry into Lynah East.
Cornell started hot in the first period, outshooting the Crimson 7-2 in the first eight minutes of the game. The Big Red gave their vocal fans something to cheer when Anthony Angello lasered a right circle wrister for a 1-0 Cornell lead.
Harvard did not allow another Red shot in the period and evened up the shot total by the end of the first at 7-7. Freshman Matthew Galajda fended off difficult shots from Ben Solin and Nathan Krusko to set the tone and keep Harvard off the scoreboard into the first intermission.
Harvard dominated the pace of play and the shot total in the second period. outshooting Cornell 13-6. Again, Galajda stopped every shot he faced. That included a string of shots on the two Harvard power plays and a flurry late in the period.
Harvard netminder Michael Lackey, starting in place of captain Merrick Madsen, stopped all six shots he faced in the period and kept Harvard in the game.
The third period featured evenly matched, furious hockey that thrilled the sellout crowd. The teams matched each other shot for shot and competed hard for the win. Cornell got more bounces and had the better goaltending. 6:33 into the game, Anthony Angello fired another shot from the right circle. The puck hit the crossbar, bounced off Lackey’s back and fell into the net.
Harvard tried desperately to answer but despite two flurries from Ryan Donato and Krusko, Harvard could not beat Galajda. The freshman from Aurora, Ontario, made 15 of his 35 saves in the final frame, en route to his sixth shutout of the season and third consecutive.
Angello capped the scoring with an empty-netter at the last second of the game. The hat trick was his first and propelled Cornell to a 3-0 victory over their ancient rivals.
Harvard head coach Ted Donato was disappointed but kept focus after the game.
“We chased the game from behind, but we got our chances. That’s a good defensive team. X’s and O’s wise, there’s not much we were shaking our heads on. Their goaltender played excellent hockey. I would’ve liked to have made things more difficult for him, but hats off to him. We didn’t possess enough pucks and make enough out of our possessions.”
With the loss, Harvard falls to 9-7-4 overall and 8-4-3 in the ECAC. The Crimson remain in fourth place in the ECAC through their eight-game unbeaten streak was snapped. Harvard will regroup and host the Colgate Raiders, the fifth place ECAC team on Saturday night. Puck drops at 7 pm at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center.
Cornell offered more evidence that they deserve the Number One ranking in the national polls. Anthony Angello was loose and happy after the game.
“This is our home-away-from-home. Our band was three times louder and our fans were even louder than that. It was a great win for us, especially to sweep them this year.”
His coach, Mike Schafer, was more reserved after the game.
“From my perspective, it wasn’t pretty. We won because guys laid out to block shots and make the gritty plays. And we’ve got so many guys fighting different illnesses right now. There were guys gasping for air on the bench. It was a very gutsy win and we’ve gotta recover and get ready for tomorrow.”
Cornell improves to 18-2-1 overall and 11-1-1 in the ECAC. They keep pace with Clarkson atop the conference standings. The Big Red will travel to Hanover, NH, to face the Dartmouth College Big Green on Saturday night. Puck drops at 7 pm at Thompson Arena.