Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.
This will not be one of those long-winded history pieces (sorry if you're in the market for one of those right now).
This is a raw, real mid-weekend check-in before the back half of the Cornell-Harvard regular-season series. As the Lynah Faithful brace for the trip into Lynah East (né Bright-Landry (né Bright (né Watson))), they may realize that this trip may be different. Harvard has the germ of a returning fanbase, which could make for a more interesting series. A former home-away-from-home for the Faithful may now more resemble the lions's den. One can hope, can't he?
Yeah, right, Harvard fans? What am I going to tell you next? The ushers will be leprechauns and unicorns will provide shuttle service to the doors? I anticipate those responses. To be fair, a more perfect analogy would be claiming that Homo habilis will man concessions while an apatosaurus serves as the boom for ESPN3 (it is on there, if you did not realize).
Harvard once had fans. The Harvard Crimson reported in 1956 that "[Harvard] College [has] developed one of the most vociferous groups of goaliehecklers in New England, and probably in the East." In Watson Rink's first season, "goalie Dick Marr commented that Harvard...had the worst knots of hecklers he had ever seen." The phenomenon was reported again after Watson Rink broke free of its cocoon and became Bright Hockey Center. "The spirit of Watson's Section 18 lived on," declared The Crimson. The "spirit" spoken of has remained more as an incorporeal spectre than a driving zeal for more recent generations. Perhaps, after these renovations, the Lynah Faithful will have more than empty space and rented bands to compete with for control of a venue whose identity through no amount of rebranding could be anything other than Lynah East.
The implied question at the opening remains. What are Cornell and Harvard? Which is the lions? Which is Daniel?
No, this is a far-from-perfect simile. Neither Steve Hagwell nor Robin Harris is Darius I. And, despite what our friends at Without a Peer may jest, we do not deify Mike Schafer (demigod status is sufficient, no?). Schafer's system is not revealed.
However, like the Biblical lions's den, that rink at 65 North Harvard Street, Boston, MA 02163 will become a place of pitted wills where aplomb and calmness likely will tilt the balance. What will deliver each is playing their game and forcing their opponents to accept the seemingly inevitable. Harvard explodes. Cornell bides its time. Which game will be played?
Harvard is hyper-motivated headed into this contest. The Crimson has been trapped in those 40.3 seconds since John McCarron blocked Harvard's last threatening dump of the puck into Cornell's zone in January. Sean Malone intimates as much, "Cornell is a huge rivalry game. Usually guys get more pumped up about these games than any others. We certainly want to win."
Harvard is deflated, not defeated. Any team that expects to walk over the Crimson, especially Cornell, is a fool that will not enjoy blissful ignorance. Harvard's games since Lynah Rink have included two brutal, merciless throttlings of Colgate. Yeah, Colgate, the same Colgate that the vast majority of league followers chose to win an ECAC Hockey title. A loss to a Yale squad that has Harvard's number. Cornell knows how it feels when Keith Allain goes on a streak against your program.
So, remaining are losses to Frozen Four favorite Boston University, defending national champion Union, and perennial season ruiner Brown. Yeah, that loss to Boston University? Don't read too much into it. It may give you nightmares. Michalek delivered a transcendent 63-save effort. Questionable calls were enjoyed and endured. The point? Harvard is very good.
Harvard is one moral uplift away from clicking into its postseason form. A consolation-round meeting with Boston College was postponed. A win in that contest could have served as a spark and alleviated some of the passion in this contest. No win will help a team right its course more than one against a historic foe. Ted Donato and Paul Pearl are well aware that a win over Cornell, in a heated building, with seeding implications, in a series steeped in history, will galvanize this Harvard squad. Let's hope Cornell and the Lynah Faithful are not an accommodating crucible.
Ah, Cornell. We knew your hockey well. 'Twas but mere weeks ago.
It would be a lie to say that this Cornell team might not need a win over Harvard to find its bearings. Last weekend was the perfect embodiment of the concept that one does not always get what one deserves, but may get things that are not one's just deserts. The Big Red deserved a win, or at least a tie, against Quinnipiac for its efforts. Princeton, meanwhile, outplayed Cornell for most of that contest. Cornell's results were inverted from the effort that it put forth.
That inversion may have been damning in this weekend's contest against Dartmouth. The excuse of the impeding game against Harvard is no shield to this criticism. Cornell, much like it did at Appleton Arena, was mentally unprepared to begin the contest at Thompson Arena. Two quick goals put Cornell down by enough to make the difference.
Cole Bardreau was the cream of Cornell's crop. Playing with a grit, focus, and tenacity that resembled his form against Harvard, Bardreau wanted to win. However, on this bus there were too many passengers. They played musical chairs with their lapses. The Big Red overall did not deserve to win.
Yes, it was tremendous to see Cornell surrender a two-goal deficit and then erase it within the same period. There are no moral victories at this time of year when playoff form is being honed. What it means is simple, another weekend passes in which Cornell will not get a sweep. No matter the result against Harvard. As the leadership of this team reminds us, a loss erases a win. Well, the Red began this weekend with a deficit.
This game will be fun. It is one of the great spectacles in sports. It will be even more enjoyable if Harvard alumni and students appear for it. It will append a torn and tattered chapter of this rivalry's saga. Harvard's fanbase rightfully is growing. This Crimson team is talented. Like all great Crimson teams since 1910, it must test its mettle against Cornell.
That question lingers yet. Who will be the lions? Who will be Daniel? Which team will be the once-dangerous foe that faith and conviction topples? One outcome is known. Like Daniel, both teams in this lions's den will find truth. The truth of what this season means.
Face-off has been moved to 4:00 pm. Adjust your travel plans accordingly. It may be the last time to cajole and collaborate with our compatriots from Cambridge on their own hallowed turf. Do not fret if you cannot make it. We all know that if all goes according to plan for these two archnemeses, they will meet again in the postseason.
Let's make sure that it is the Crimson, not the Red, who has the more difficult route to the reunion.
P.S. Check out the historical murals that were added during the renovations of the Bright-Landry Hockey Center. They do a great credit to a great program that serves as the foil to Cornell's proud hockey tradition. Yes, a few of Harvard's celebrated moments come at the expense of the Red, but Cornell has won more than it has lost.