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  • Tiffany Yeung

A Legacy of Success

Photography by Amanda Burkart

“It’s all your fault, it’s all your fault,” I chanted at Brown University’s goalie on Saturday night at my first Cornell hockey game at Lynah Rink. The atmosphere was electric, and the school spirit was different than any other sports game I have ever attended. Earlier this fall, I went home to New Jersey for a weekend and watched Cornell men’s hockey play at Princeton while visiting my twin sister. I was shocked to see that the rink was full of people in red and white, chanting Cornell’s cheers. I knew Cornell’s hockey fan base was strong, but I did not know it was that robust. I saw how “Big Red'' pride connects generations of Cornellians and unites a large group of people. Everyone was on the edge of their seats throughout the game, and it almost felt like we were on the rink with the players. After leaving Princeton’s rink that night, I finally understood why fans kept returning to support Cornell hockey.

Cornell men’s hockey dates back to 1901 and Cornell women’s hockey began in 1971. Before Lynah Rink opened in 1957, the men’s hockey team competed primarily outside of Ithaca, and even on Beebe Lake at times. However, the unpredictable weather made it challenging to maintain a consistent game schedule, and for a period of time after 1947, the hockey program was suspended with nowhere to play. Luckily, Lynah Rink opened in 1957, providing the team with a space to compete. When Cornell beat Harvard in 1962 for the first time since 1912, it was a remarkable turning point for the team’s success and popularity. These loyal fans became known as the Lynah Faithful and Lynah Rink has been consistently packed for every hockey game, with the fans becoming an integral part of the game itself and the culture at Cornell.

Over the years of the Cornell hockey program, both teams have achieved impressive accolades. The women’s team has won 15 Ivy League regular championships, four Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) titles, and made four National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) “Frozen Four” appearances. Six women’s hockey alumni also competed in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics—four of the women competed for Canada, and went on to win the Olympic Gold under the guidance of Doug Derraugh ‘91, Head Coach of the women’s team. Two women also competed for the Czech Republic. The men’s team has won 24 Ivy League titles, second only to our eternal archrivals Harvard Crimson with 25 titles, and hold the record for most ECAC championships won at 12.

When asked what makes Cornell hockey unique, women’s captain Ashley Messier ’25 said, “Cornell hockey is so unique because of our one of a kind culture. There is truly no other program like us that focuses on our core values and upholds traditions so diligently. We aren't flashy or boastful, but work hard in silence.”

“Where else in the United States can you get an Ivy League education, have the opportunity to study anything you want, can live in one of the most beautiful areas in the world, and ice hockey is the most popular sport on campus?” noted Derraugh, a former Cornell hockey player himself.

Unsurprisingly, hockey’s popularity on campus has led to many traditions between the fans and players that date back to the beginning of the Lynah Faithful. Senior co-captain Sam Malinski added that his favorite tradition is one that celebrates the seniors: “I think my favorite tradition takes place on Senior Night when each senior gets to do a solo lap and jump into the student section. After each senior does their lap, we gather around the center ice circle, and sing The Alma Mater. This is an incredible tradition and I know it will be emotional for me when doing it this year.”

Meanwhile, co-captain Travis Mitchell ’23 personally enjoys the infamous fish-throwing tradition against Harvard: “The best tradition has to be the throwing of the fish when we play Harvard. That really puts an emphasis on how much we want to beat them. I will always remember the first time that happened my freshman year and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world being able to stand out on the ice while it was going on.”

Not only is the program successful on the ice, the close team dynamic emphasizes how special Cornell hockey is to the players themselves. Women’s hockey co-captain Izzy Daniel ’24 remarked, “My favorite part has to be the relationships I have built with my teammates. I have been fortunate to play alongside people with whom I will be friends with for a long, long time. Those bonds are what makes Cornell hockey so unique.”

It is clear that the history of Cornell’s hockey program is iconic: the fans, the players, the coaches, and, of course, Lynah Rink. The renowned success of Cornell hockey continues as both teams are still adding accolades to the program, such as the men’s team defeating UConn (ranked sixth in the nation at the time) in the Frozen Apple this November.

“The history of Cornell hockey gives us all something really important to play for. Not only do we want to make our alumni happy, but we want to represent a program in a way that they will be proud of. This gives us a lot of motivation to be the best team that we can be, both on and off the ice,” Malinski explained. “We know that the teams before us have left the program better than they found it, and we are committed to doing the same.”


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