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Big Red in the Big Apple: Red Hot Hockey at Madison Square Garden

Photo courtesy of Double G Sports. 

For fans of the Big Red, Thanksgiving weekend can only mean one thing: Cornell hockey in New York City. Since 2007, the men’s hockey team has played an annual game at Madison Square Garden, drawing hordes of Cornell students and alums. On November 25th, 2017, Cornell topped Boston University 4-3 at MSG, finally defeating its longtime rival in NYC and winning the Kelley-Harkness Cup for the first time.

Every other year since the tradition began in 2007, Cornell has faced Boston in this “Red Hot Hockey” Manhattan matchup. While Cornell has played various teams on the even years, BU is consistently the most anticipated opponent, having won each rivalry game until finally falling to the Big Red last month on the sixth meeting. Because BU left the ECAC for the Hockey East conference in the 1980s, the biennial “Red Hot Hockey” match is the only opportunity for the powerhouses to compete during the regular season.

Although Cornell’s Lynah Rink is well-known in college hockey, few sports arenas can compare to Madison Square Garden. While the history and size of the famous New York City stadium are certainly intimidating, the biennial Red Hot Hockey match is a unique opportunity for college athletes to compete in front of what is likely the biggest audience of their hockey careers. This year, the game exhibited a few particularly exciting moments, such as freshman Tristan Mullin’s first career goal and two assists from New York Rangers draft pick Morgan Barron on the NHL team’s home ice. Aside from this, two famous Boston alums, Olympic legend Mike Eruzione and New York Ranger Kevin Shattenkirk, attended the match in support of their alma mater.

While both Cornell and Boston U fans supported their teams during this season highlight, Cornell spirit was deafening as the Big Red took the ice of the world’s most famous arena. With the majority of spectators boasting Cornell gear, MSG roared with the cheers of past, present and future Lynah Faithful, the traditional “Screw BU” game chant taking on added significance in the presence of the rivals themselves. Spirits were high throughout the match, especially as Cornell pulled ahead 3-0 in the second period.

While watching the Big Red hoist the rivalry trophy made this year’s game particularly enjoyable, the outburst of Cornell pride, win or lose, is what makes Red Hot Hockey so special. Any Cornelian would be thrilled to find an arena built for over 20,000 spectators packed with Cornell fans young and old, all roaring the cheers of the Lynah Faithful and the timeless Alma Mater song. Even on “Red Hot Hockey” off-years (generally referred to as “The Frozen Apple”), the Cornell game attracts Big Red devotees of all ages in support of their school’s most popular team. With Cornell jerseys lining the streets of Manhattan and the sides of Madison Square Garden lit up in red and white, the victory over Boston was a welcome bonus to a crowd already bursting with pride for their school.

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