Ithaca, NY — Trailing by a goal and struggling on the power play with five minutes left in the third period, the Cornell Big Red looked poised to lose their third straight contest with Harvard . But by the time the clock hit zero, Lynah Rink had transformed. Doug Krantz’s equalizer followed by Michael Kennedy’s game-winning breakaway score provided an electric 3-2 comeback and kept The Red undefeated for the season.
“Definitely the biggest [goal] I’ve scored in my life,” said Kennedy. “The rivalry is huge, and we wanted this one bad, especially in our rink.”
“We’re disappointed and we’re frustrated,” said Harvard head coach Ted Donato. “We thought we carried play for most of the game.”
“The other side of it, I thought our guys showed signs for about 55 minutes of being an extremely tough team to play against.”
After the Cornell student section honored tradition by tossing fish at the Harvard players during warm-ups, The Red rode the crowd energy in the game’s early minutes. On a delayed penalty call two minutes into the period, Big Red forward Topher Scott found the cutting Taylor Davenport, who backhanded a shot past Crimson goaltender Kyle Richter to record his first career goal.
Preventing The Red from taking control of momentum, Harvard responded quickly with a power play goal by captain Dylan Reese. Guarding the blue line on the power play unit, Crimson defender Brian McCafferty stopped Cornell’s attempt to clear the puck from the zone. McCafferty sent the puck along the boards to forward Jon Pelle, who connected with Reese on the other side of the net for the equalizer.
“It’s a play we work on in practice a lot,” said Reese. “The goal is to walk the blue line, get the puck back to the other side, and drive the net.
“That’s exactly what happened.”
The Crimson went on to dominate scoring opportunities for most of the remaining two periods, out shooting Cornell 20-8 over the final two frames. Harvard tested Cornell’s sophomore goalie Troy Davenport many times over the two periods, but Davenport kept the period scoreless.
“In the times we didn’t play well, [Davenport] did a great job stepping up and making big saves for us,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer.
“They were a little bit ‘bend, don’t break’ in the second, and a little bit of the third,” said Donato.
Harvard’s intensity paid off on a power play midway through the third period. With players from both teams cluttered in front of the net, Crimson’s Chad Morin fired a pass from the right circle and past the player congestion, hitting Kevin Du in-stride for an easy score.
“It was a beautiful pass,” said Du.
Cornell’s chances did not appear promising after failing to convert on a five on four with five minutes remaining. But everything changed when Cornell’s Byron Bitz won a face off in the Crimson zone.
“It was a perfect draw,” said Krantz. “It was flat. It was right on my forehand. I just walked in.”
“I just watched it go right over the goalie’s shoulder and put my hands up.”
Following the equalizer, The Red killed off a Byron Bitz tripping penalty and set the stage for Kennedy’s heroics. Right after Bitz left the penalty box, Kennedy jumped off the bench to replace him and skated to center ice. Cornell forward Mitch Carefoot pushed the puck ahead to Kennedy, leaving one Crimson skater between Kennedy and the Harvard goaltender. Kennedy skated to his left and past the defender, faking right before putting a forehand shot by Richter’s right pad.
“It’s just a big win for us to go 3-0 in the league,” said Schafer, who also saw Cornell’s up and down performance as an issue for practice.
“It shows you that we have a lot of work to get done, a lot of things that we need to improve on.”