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Cornell vs. Harvard Hockey: The Fan Experience

Two esteemed hockey teams. A sold-out stadium. A rivalry dating back to the early 1900s. Raw fish. Any meeting between the Cornell Big Red and the Harvard Crimson hockey teams is bound to be a good one. On November 11th, 2017, the long-time opponents came head to head at Lynah Rink in the most anticipated game of the season. Cornell students arrived in full force for the match that would, for many, go down as one of their most memorable hockey experiences.

Even before the puck dropped, Lynah was roaring. From stands overflowing with Cornell red and white to the thunderous cheers of the Lynah Faithful, every spectator was energized, ready to participate in what would undoubtedly be a fiercely competitive match between two top teams. Contributing to this electrifying atmosphere was, as expected, the unwavering rowdiness of the Cornell fans. As tradition dictates, the pregame ice was soon subjected to dozens of dead fish hurled down from the stands, a tribute to the malodorous harbor of Harvard’s home city. While some spectators opted to throw Swedish Fish or Goldfish crackers instead, the flinging of the fish remains a beloved practice of the Lynah Faithful. Despite ominous warnings that protested the continuing of this tradition, fans certainly found their ways to sneak fish into the rink, and while the smell was somewhat unpleasant, there are few thrills greater than the chucking of dead fish at the opposing Harvard players.

Following this spirited start, Cornell fans sustained their morale throughout the game. The classic cheers (and jeers) of the Lynah Faithful were amplified as students encouraged their home team, remaining energetic even when the Big Red fell behind in the first period. Opposing players were heckled. The routine “safety school” chant emanated from the stands. The Harvard goalie was tormented with anything and everything the Lynah Faithful could do to distract him.

The greatest moment of the match, however, came late in the third period. With the teams tied going into the final moments of play, most spectators began to prepare for overtime. Then, mere seconds before the buzzer would sound, junior Alec McCrea sent the puck to the net off a pass from freshman Morgan Barron. With 1.4 seconds remaining on the clock, McCrea notched the game-winning goal, sending Lynah into a momentous uproar. While players celebrated the goal and their impending 3-2 victory over their Harvard rival, ecstatic Cornell fans went wild, filling the rink with deafening cheers of excitement. “It was the greatest hockey game I’ve ever been to,” said freshman hockey fan Troy Laurence after his first Cornell/Harvard experience. “It was crazy. I’ll definitely remember it.”

The Big Red’s victory over Harvard was not only another successful game in the midst of an impressively strong season, but also a true moment of Cornell pride. Fans rejoiced in both the defeat of their biggest rival as well as the accomplishments of the team they know and love; Cornellians left the game satisfied, thrilled and prideful of their school. For those passionate about Cornell and, of course, its famous hockey team, the literal last-second victory over Harvard was a historic and deeply meaningful experience.


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