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|A viewer's guide to Cornell vs. Harvard|
|Written by Dan Marrazza|
|Friday, 16 November 2012 15:25|
With the NHL labor talks looking like they're going to be iced for the forseeable future, fans have been forced to turn to other leagues for their hockey fix. For those fans, one of those "other" leagues is having a terrific rivalry matchup.With the NHL in the midst of its lockout for which there seems to be no end in sight, one of the best chances for hockey-craving fans to watch their favorite sport on TV will come this Friday night, when the Cornell Big Red host the Harvard Crimson in one of college hockey’s most historic rivalries.
The game can be seen nationally on NBC Sports Network on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
Based on the quality of the teams and their rivalry’s “colorful” customs, Friday night’s contest should not only feature a competitive game, but also visiting players getting pelted by fans with fish—like we said, Cornell and Harvard have a heated rivalry with several “colorful” customs.
We’ve assembled a guide for fans to make it easier to follow Friday night’s action, just in case this would be their first foray into this classic Ivy League hockey rivalry.
Why Will Harvard Players Get Fish Thrown At Them?Almost every game between Harvard and Cornell at Cornell’s Lynah Rink results in multitudes of dead fish being hurled in the directions of Harvard players. Cornell fans throwing fish at visiting Harvard players has been a tradition since 1973, when a single Cornell fan threw a single fish at a Harvard player in retaliation to a Harvard fan throwing a dead chicken at a Cornell player in a game between the teams at Harvard a month earlier.
Why fish and chickens?
Cornell University, based in rural Ithaca, New York, has a renowned College of Agriculture, with the initial heaving of a chicken supposedly being symbolic of Harvard mocking Cornell for both its out-in-the-country geographic location and its agriculture college supposedly not “living up to Harvard’s academic standards.”
Considering that both Cornell and Harvard are world-class Ivy League schools, all of the rivalry’s academic taunts—fans on both sides are known to chant “safety school” at their opponents—are nothing more than competitive banter, though.
Meanwhile, Cornell’s retaliatory acts of throwing fish at Harvard players is meant to be symbolic of Boston’s seafood industry. Or, in the case of throwing “dead” fish, Cornell fans’ gestures—in nice words—could mean that Big Red fans don’t think that Boston seafood is very tasty.
Both of these traditions have been repeated and imitated on both sides of the rivalry for the last 40 years, occasionally even getting escalated—for example, Harvard fans once tied a live chicken to a Cornell goalpost.
Who Are The 2012-13 Cornell Big Red?In many ways, the Cornell Big Red are the San Francisco Giants of college hockey in that almost every game they play, win or lose, is a low-scoring affair decided with one pivotal moment.
Despite not having the championship success that the Giants have had in recent years—the Big Red fell one win short of qualifying for the Frozen Four last season—Cornell is still one of the nation’s most formidable college hockey teams while utilizing this style. In fact, prior to last weekend, Cornell was ranked fourth in the nation with a 3-0-1 record which was supported by what had been college hockey’s top defensive unit.
Although a pair of surprisingly high-scoring losses last weekend—5-3 at Princeton and 4-1 at Quinnipiac—have dropped the Big Red to 10th in the country with a 3-2-1 record, Cornell is still expected to be one of the ECAC’s elite teams this season. At 10th in the nation, Cornell only trails Union College (6-2-1/7th in nation) among ECAC teams in the current national polls.
Who Are The 2012-13 Harvard Crimson?Unlike Cornell, which enters Friday night’s showdown coming off two straight defeats, Harvard will enter on the heels of its best effort of the season, a 4-0 win at RPI last Saturday.
“Last game, I think we finally found our team identity,” said Harvard goalie Raphael Girard. “We hit them a lot and wore them down. The way we played last game is how we’re supposed to play to beat good teams. They (Cornell) are 10th in the country, so they’re a good team.”
Overall, Harvard is 3-2-0 this season, which is 17th in the national polls and fifth among ECAC teams, nationally.
The Crimson’s strong 17th-place standing is partially a reflection on how the national perception of Harvard’s hockey program has drastically turned around in the past 12 months. Last season, after having gone a combined 30-58-10 over the prior three seasons, Harvard was a very respectable 13-10-11 and made it all the way to the ECAC tournament’s championship game before being eliminated by the eventually Frozen Four-bound Union College Dutchmen.
Who Is A Cornell Player To Watch?Andy Iles - Goaltender, Junior
On a team whose style is predicated on defense, defense and more defense, everything starts and stops with Andy Iles.
Iles, a yet to be drafted native of Ithaca, New York, is both the backbone of Cornell and the owner of one of the most impressive stats in college hockey. Iles has played every second of every Cornell game this season after playing every second of every Cornell game last season, equaling 2,542 consecutive minutes in Cornell’s crease during that stretch.
“He’s a mentally tough kid who’s in phenomenal shape,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schaefer of Iles. “His mind is so strong, he’s consistent and he’s competitive.”
“It never hurts having Andy Iles in net,” added Cornell assistant coach Topher Scott. “Our guys have all bought into playing two-way hockey, but whenever there’s a breakdown, it seems like Andy is always there.”
While having played every Cornell game the last two seasons, Iles has a 22-11-8 record, with a combined 2.13 goals-against average, .920 save percentage and seven shutouts.
Other Cornell players who are NHL draft picks: Joakim Ryan (SJ), Joel Lowry (LA), Nicholas D’Agostino (PIT), Brian Ferlin (BOS), John McCarron (EDM), Reece Willcox (PHI), Kirill Gotovets (TB), Braden Birch (CHI)
Cornell hockey alums currently in the NHL: Matt Moulson, Douglas Murray, Ryan O’Byrne, Colin Greening, Ben Scrivens, Byron Bitz
Notable retired Cornell hockey alums: Joe Nieuwendyk, Ken Dryden
Who Is A Harvard Player To Watch?Jimmy Vesey- Left Wing, Freshman (Nashville)
Hardly a freshman in the country has played a more pivotal early-season role with his team than 2012 Nashville Predators third-round draft pick Jimmy Vesey, whose five goals have accounted for exactly 1/3 of Harvard’s goal scoring this season.
“I think he’s one of the most skilled players I’ve seen come through this team in a while,” said Harvard captain Danny Biega of Vesey. “He does everything well. He plays similar to Alex Killorn (Killorn now plays for the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch after leading Harvard in scoring last season) and has stepped right into that role as a freshman, which is impressive.”
In terms of this Friday night’s game, Vesey’s appeal is that he is arguably the most offensively gifted player on either side, with his seven points (5g, 2a) in his first five collegiate games coming after he produced 91 points (48g, 43a) in 45 junior games with the EJHL’s South Shore (Massachusetts) Kings last season.
Long term, Vesey, currently 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds at age 19, projects as a potential power forward in the NHL.
Other Harvard players who are NHL draft picks: Danny Biega (CAR), Alexander Fallstrom (MIN), Brian Hart (TB), Colin Blackwell (SJ), Patrick McNally (VAN), Max Everson (TOR), Petr Placek (PHI)
Harvard hockey alums currently in the NHL: Dominic Moore, Craig Adams, Dylan Reese
Notable retired Harvard hockey alums: Don Sweeney and Ted Donato, who is also Harvard’s current head coach.
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|Last Updated on Friday, 16 November 2012 20:35|