ITHACA, N.Y. — At 4:08 in the third period, highly touted Harvard centerman Dominic Moore scored from behind the opposition’s net by banking a shot off Cornell goaltender Matt Underhill’s leg. It was an amazing shot and the best offensive play of the game. It was also absolutely inconsequential.
That goal made the score 6-2 in favor of Cornell, who controlled the game’s momentum from start to finish. In what was likely the most highly anticipated ECAC game so far this season, the Big Red easily outplayed the Crimson, who looked frustrated throughout the affair.
Adding to Harvard’s frustration was the charged atmosphere of Lynah Rink. Cornell’s fans, particularly boisterous on this night, made things hard on the visiting team throughout the game by pelting them with exotic projectiles such as fish, lobster, and squid. Indeed, the fans and their fish got so far out of hand at one point that the home team was given a bench minor for delay of game.
After the fish had been cleared from the ice at the beginning of the first period, hard-working Sam Paolini of Cornell established his team’s dominance with a goal at 5:26 on a rebound. Paolini set the tone for his team throughout the game, accruing two goals and two assists by the time the final whistle had sounded. His teammates carried their fair share of the offensive load as well, as 12 Cornellians registered points on the night. Offensive highlights for the Red included the eventual game winner on a Krzyzstof Wieckowski laser, a goal by Denis Ladouceur set up by a Doug Murray spin move, and a two-on-one capped off by a Matt McRae tally.
“I thought our guys were very focused going into the game. We got up on them early tonight, we kept on the pressure, and I thought that was the difference of the game,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer.
Toward the end of the third period, with Harvard’s frustrations continuing to mount, the game unfortunately turned ugly. With about 4:00 left to play, Paolini laid a punishing check on the Crimson’s Peter Capouch, causing him to limp off the ice slowly. Three Harvard players tried to start altercations with Paolini in the very next shift, but none succeeded until the 18:33 mark, when all ten skaters on the ice were drawn into a brawl.
“I think they targeted me after that hit. I actually thought it was a clean hit. I blindsided him, that’s why he was hurt…but it was a clean hit,” said Paolini.
In the aftermath of the fight, referee Tim Kotyra handed down misconducts to all ten players involved. Several minor altercations followed in what had turned into quite a violent third period. All told, a total of 134:00 in penalties occurred on the night, with 126:00 coming in the third period alone. Surprisingly, none of those penalties was severe enough to warrant disqualifications for upcoming games.
“We were telling our players, ‘Hey, we got a game tomorrow night that’s just as important, we can’t have anybody thrown out,’” said Schafer. “They kept their gloves on in that altercation, and they took a few, but in the end it’s well worth it. They’re in the game for tomorrow night. They stayed disciplined.”
With the win, the Big Red assumes a three-point lead over Harvard in conference standings. Clarkson and Dartmouth are both five points out of first place. On Saturday night, Cornell will attempt to maintain its significant league lead when it confronts Brown. Harvard, meanwhile, looks to return to winning ways when it travels to Colgate for an afternoon game.