Bertrand's first season marked the first time in nearly five seasons that Cornell had not won the ECAC Championship. The 1970-71 team missed the NCAA Tournament despite an impressive 22-win freshman season for Bertrand. It would not take long for Cornell's new bench boss to lead his first Big Red team to the NCAA Tournament.
Bertrand and the 1970-71 team defended Cornell’s winning run at Lynah Rink. That streak broke on February 2, 1972 against Clarkson. This was not before it extended to the staggering length of 63 consecutive wins at Lynah Rink. Lynah Rink remained one of the most fearsome venues for opponents. Cornell did not lose another contest on East Hill during the remainder of the 1971-72 campaign.
The 1971-72 season witnessed Cornell battle back to the ECAC title game at Boston Garden. This first trip for the second-year coach would not be victorious. Cornell would fall to Boston University.
Cornell received an at-large invitation to the 1972 NCAA Tournament despite its disappointing loss in the ECAC Championship Final. The Big Red dominated the Denver Pioneers 7-2 in the NCAA Championship Semifinals. The victory likely proved cathartic for Bertrand. Dryden's last season and Bertrand's junior season at Cornell were ended when Denver defeated Cornell 4-3.
A rematch of the ECAC Championship Final awaited Cornell in the next round. Boston University did its best impression of Cornell in the 1967 postseason. The Terriers defeated their archrival again in the only game during which Cornell was shut out during the 1971-72 season. Ending the season empty-handed with no earned championships and claiming only runner-up status in two tournaments did not sit well with those returning to East Hill for the 1972-73 season.
Cornell returned three of the 1971-72 team's top scorers. Departed was 1971-72 captain Larry Fullan and his linemates. Eight sophomores would need to rise from the freshman team with uncertain trajectories. Despite these losses and uncertainties, Cornell entered the season ranked first in the East. Ivy-League archrival Harvard was ranked just behind the Cornellians.
One of the hallmarks of Bertrand's tenure was his choice to emphasize a team-first mentality in new and distinct ways from those that Harkness employed. Bertrand refused to number his lines. He instead designated them with colors. However, at the outset of the season it was apparent that Bertrand would need to rely upon captains Bill Hanson and Dave Street, and Carlo Ugolini. Hanson would be expected to fill the void that Fullan's departure left as best that he could.
Last season's top scorers on the varsity team, Carlo Ugolini and Bill Hanson, would be joined by the top scorer of the freshman team in the form of Gary Young. Gary Young was joined on the "yellow line" with Doug Marrett and Bob Murray. Observers pegged this sophomore line to be the second-most prolific during the 1972-73 season behind only the "blue line" of Bill Hanson, Carlo Ugolini, and Gord McCormick. Dave Elenbaas returned as Cornell's netminder for his senior season with Brian Rainey standing in reserve if Cornell needed.
The team was plagued with unavoidable questions. One of its top defenseman, Bill Murray, would be dedicated to soccer at the outset of the season. It was unknown if Cornell's combined talents could accommodate the loss of key players like Fullan. Bertrand remarked before the first weekend of play that "the season could be over for us by Christmas."
Cornell was 3-1-0 by the time Christmas arrived. Cornell had earned a 2-1-0 record in its first ECAC contests. The lone loss was Boston University's second consecutive shutout of its archrival Cornell. This time, however, the loss did not come far from East Hill at Boston Garden. The Lynah Faithful witnessed the 9-0 loss to the Terriers firsthand.
Controversially, Boston University would be forced to forfeit its win in that game. The Terriers's Dick Decloe, who scored a hat trick in the contest, was determined to be an ineligible player because his school in Canada had paid a local school tax. This in the minds of the ECAC and NCAA indicated that his school was regarded not as an institution involved in secondary education, but one involved with the ineligible practice of developing players professionally. Boston University would forfeit 11 total wins.
Cornell split tournament results against Loyola and Clarkson in a holiday tournament in Syracuse. The new year began with another pitch against Loyola. Cornell would again win. The Red was bound to meet its Ivy-League archrival Harvard just two days later at Watson Rink. What transpired in that season's series between the fierce Ivy-League foes is now legendary.
Coaching changes at Harvard mirrored those on East Hill. The Crimson handed the reins of its program to alumnus Bill Cleary before the 1971-72 season. Bill Cleary was noted for assisting his other Team USA teammates, including his brother, in winning a gold medal in hockey during the 1960 Olympic Games. His prowess as a college-hockey coach was unknown. Cleary had played in an era when neither the ECAC nor the Ivy League sponsored hockey.
The arrival of Bill Cleary resulted in a sudden shift in the dynamic of the Cornell-Harvard rivalry. Cornell’s and the Lynah Faithful’s dislike for Harvard could be equaled only by the reciprocated emotions of coach Bill Cleary. Cornell suffered a loss to the Crimson for the first time in 14 meetings between the historic foes.
Bill Cleary brought Harvard its first victory over Cornell in six years. Bertrand and his squad responded in January 1972 with a convincing win over Harvard. The rivalry between the Ivy of Upstate New York and the oldest college in the United States was on the precipice of growing more heated.
The January 6, 1973 clash between Cornell and Harvard was the game of the chicken. Harvard was ranked first in the nation headed into the game. The Crimson were undefeated in all of its previous outings. Dave Elenbaas frustrated the Crimson with what many believed was his best performance of the season. Harvard's power-play unit that owned a conversion rate of 53% was held to one power-play goal on seven opportunities. Cornell would score five goals to Harvard's two goals in a tremendous upset.
Harvard fans were none too subdued in demonstrating their displeasure at the upset that the upstart Ivy of Cornell was threatening. Dave Elenbaas found himself on the receiving end of airborne poultry during game play. The dead chicken was an unsubtle reference to and insult of New York State's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University. Most Cantabs viewed the studies afforded at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences as unbefitting an Ivy-League institution.
The Cornell-Harvard series paced the trajectory of Cornell during the 1972-73 season. Harvard rebounded after the loss to its Ivy-League rival. The Crimson ventured to East Hill on February 17, 1973. The Red squad was poised for a statement win and a season sweep. The Lynah Faithful were prepared to respond to the slight that the dead chicken directed at their alma mater and the Crimson fans’s reckless disregard for their student-athletes at Harvard.
Harvard's team once again looked like the best team that the Crimson had iced in history. The animosity of the game was immediately apparent. It was the most physical game that an already physical Cornell program had played that season. Showing more respect and regard for those on the ice than had Harvard, the Lynah Faithful deluged the Crimson on the ice with fish during breaks in game play. This antic has become the traditional means by which Cornell welcomes its archrival Crimson to Lynah Rink before the opening face-off.
Harvard left the ice for the second time in the season stunned. Bill Cleary waved his team off the ice instructing it to depart the ice without congratulating the victorious Cornell team. The Crimson refused to shake the hands of the victorious Cornell players. Harvard did the same when the two teams met in January. This practice became emblematic of Bill Cleary’s conduct in the pitched rivalry between Cornell and Harvard throughout his 19-year career in Cambridge. Cornell outclassed Harvard during both contests.
Cornell entered the postseason a better team than it was when the season began. Dave Elenbaas had lifted his game from its level during the previous season. Dave Street rejoined the roster on defense just before the first Harvard clash. George Shields returned as a forward at the same time. Doug Marrett, Carlo Ugolini, and Bob Murray had delivered upon the need to fill offensive voids. Carlo Ugolini had become so well regarded for his uncommon skills that many fans nicknamed him "the magician" by the time the 1973 postseason arrived.
Cornell entered the 1973 ECAC Tournament as the number one seed as it had in 1968, 1969, 1970, and 1972. The Big Red would play host to eighth-seeded RPI in the ECAC Quarterfinals. Cornell had not played the Engineers in the 1972-73 regular season.
Cornell was one of two top seeds that would survive the 1973 ECAC Quarterfinals. Perennial powers Harvard and Boston University fell in the first round allowing Clarkson and Penn to advance to Boston Garden. Cornell was determined to avoid a similar fate.
The Engineers were unable to calculate any way to measure up to the task that Cornell at Lynah presented. The Troy natives received the support of 750 fans from RPI who ventured eastward, but were disappointed in the ultimate result. The Engineers withered in the face of a dominating Cornell offensive and physical demonstration. Cornell led 8-0 after the second period ended. Bob Murray recorded a hat trick. "The magician," Carlo Ugolini, tallied five helpers.
RPI scored its only goals within a six-minute span in the third period. This feat would be enough to only close the final margin of victory to six goals. The third period saw the Engineers attempting to draw Cornell players into altercations that would result in game suspensions in the next round of the ECAC Tournament. Engineer John Donahue checked Cornell goaltender Dave Elenbaas when the latter was collecting the puck along the boards. The benches cleared as a result and back-up Cornell goalie Brian Rainey restrained RPI's McNab during the resulting fight.
The game ended 9-3 and Cornell advanced to Boston Garden for the 1973 ECAC Championship Semifinals. The Golden Knights of Clarkson who beat Boston University in the ECAC Quarterfinals would be Cornell's opponents in the semifinals. Cornell had split with Clarkson during the regular season. The Big Red lost 10-1 to Clarkson in December and defeated the Golden Knights 6-1 in February.
First-year head coach Jerry York, whose collegiate playing career at Boston College ended with a 12-2 loss to Cornell in the 1967 ECAC Championship Semifinals, led Clarkson into the 1973 ECAC Championship Semifinals. His squad had earned an 18-14-0 record before the weekend and was just one week removed from eliminating heavy favorite Harvard.
Cornell pummeled the Golden Knights at the outset of the semifinal contest. The Big Red rattled off three goals in the first ten minutes of the contest. Doug Marrett opened the scoring. Mike McGuire and Bob Murray joined the rush in sequence. The Golden Knights were not thwarted in their response. They would best Dave Elenbaas two times before the first buzzer rang. However, Gord McCormick had an answer to Clarkson's charge by the time the squads left the ice for the first intermission.
Game play resumed in the second frame. Cornell's physicality dissuaded Clarkson. Clarkson was contented to stay behind its blue line, passing the puck, avoiding the battering that the Big Red was presenting. Clarkson's reluctance to engage the Red in the neutral zone allowed Cornell to gain decisive control of the game. Doug Marrett completed his hat trick in the second period. Carlo Ugolini worked his magic with an unassisted tally.
The final stanza began with Cornell holding onto a commanding 7-2 lead. The seemingly disoriented Golden Knights regained some of their composure in the third period. They beat Elenbaas twice in the third period after the Big Red added another goal to its already gaudy total. Doug Marrett scored his fourth goal of the game to end the scoring. Cornell eliminated Clarkson with a final score of 9-4.
Boston College ended Penn's only run in program history to the ECAC Championship weekend in the other semifinal match-up. Cornell would face the Eagles in the ECAC Championship Final. The match-up was a rematch of the 1968 ECAC Championship Final. Cornell won that contest six goals to three goals.
Boston College thwarted the efforts of Cornell early in the contest. The Eagles's defense would collapse around Boston College netminder Ned Yetten and ward off the Cornell attackers. Boston College cycled in a disciplined manner the few times that it gained the zone and waited for lapses in Cornell's defense.
Dick Bertrand was left with few options but to employ his most talented "blue line" against the Eagles to break the gridlock. Carlo Ugolini, Doug Marrett, and Bob Murray logged 30 minutes of ice time by the time the game ended. Bertrand's stratagem worked.
The second period witnessed controversy as Cornell head coach Dick Bertrand and Clarkson head coach Len Ceglarski battled to gain the right to have the last line change at a pivotal point in the game. This dispute consumed ten minutes of running time. The officials on the ice consulted ECAC Rules Committee member Scotty Whitelaw. Whitelaw refused to resolve the issue in favor of either team. An on-ice official gave the last change to Clarkson. The game resumed.
The Eagles weary of Marrett's four-goal game the evening before tried to give him little space in which to maneuver. It was to no avail. Doug Marrett scored two goals and Carlo Ugolini assisted on all of Cornell's four goals. Cornell broke the gridlock that Boston College defended earlier. Cornell's "blue line" in recording 30 minutes of ice time helped Cornell gain a territorial advantage and register 52 shots on Boston College's skilled goaltender. Cornell's first and last goals of its three came on the power play.
Cornell's third goal and the final goal of the game was scored with 12:22 remaining in the third period. Clarkson would not find the equalizer. The victory gave Cornell its first postseason title that Cornell won without Ned Harkness. It took Bertrand just three seasons to win his first championship as head coach. It took him one season less than it did Harkness.
The 1973 ECAC Championship proved that the greatness of Cornell hockey was far greater than Harkness' leadership. Dick Bertrand and his 1972-73 squad proved that to themselves and all subsequent generations of players and coaches. Cornell hockey was greatness.
Cornell outscored its opponents 21 goals to nine goals during the course of the 1973 ECAC Tournament. Bill Murray tallied the championship-winning goal against Boston College netminder Ned Yetten. Dave Elenbaas earned a goals-against average of 3.00 and a save percentage of 0.907 during the 1973 ECAC Tournament. Cornell left Boston Garden on March 10, 1973 having won its fifth ECAC Championship.
Steve Bajinski, Don Ceci, Dave Elenbaas (G), John Fumio, Bill Hanson (C), George Kuzmicz, Doug Marrett,
Dennis Martin, Gord McCormick, Mike McGuire, Mike Mellor, Dave Murray, Bob Murray, Bill Murray, Dave Peace,
Paul Perras, Dave Peyman, Brian Rainey (G), George Shields, Eric Skillins, Gunar Skillins, Dave Street (C),
Monty Templeman, Carlo Ugolini, Gary Young
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