This contest differed in one key way from its November 23, 1968 analog. No, it is not the fact Agent K took no shifts at Bright-Landry. It is the fact that, unlike the game in the Fall of 1968, this is not the ultimate crescendo to a season's final stanza. Cornell and Harvard both have games in the regular season unplayed in a last push for seeding. Even more pointedly, there is the palpable sense from both sides that this was the penultimate chapter in the rivalry this season.
This may make more poignant Ledecky's point. The game may become an unraveling or a recalibrating for the vanquished and the victor. Will a losing tie motivate Harvard? Will a victorious stalemate sate a once-hungry Cornell? Will another demoralizing result prove anomalous the Crimson's win over Colgate? Did the Big Red find its sterner timber in late heroics? The lack of finality is what makes this last chapter in the Cornell-Harvard series most interesting. But, did either team leave the ice with what it needed?
This writer will not belabor the Harvard side of things. The gravity of a game and the trajectory of a season can be gleaned if a team's most talented players deliver. Jimmy Vesey tallied three points on Saturday. A puck did not find its way past Mitch Gillam without first touching Vesey's stick. Three points is not that gaudy for a player as talented as Vesey. Consider that three points equal Vesey's point production over all other games that he has played against Cornell. The leader of the Crimson may be finding his playoff form with his team in tow.
The psychological effects of Saturday's game for Cornell are immense. No, not just because the Red clutched a win from Crimson jaws. It is the manner in which it happened. The few Crimson fans (yes, there were fans there) knew more than the Lynah Faithful give them credit. A contingent of them confessed to this writer that it was their first game of the season in Bright-Landry. However, their inexperience belied actual knowledge, osmotic or learned. When Vesey tucked away Harvard's third goal with just 5:02 remaining in regulation, Harvard fans knew they had won.
It seems that far too often Cornell has found itself in that situation. The net ripples. Heavy heads turn to inspect the clock. Fewer than ten minutes remain. Time remains, but the game is over. It may shock you to learn that this sequence of events has happened but three times before Saturday's contest. Princeton, Quinnipiac, and Dartmouth scored goals in the final ten minutes of regulation. Cornell could not find the equalizer. It fell in each of those road contests.
This is not to say that Cornell has not attempted to make valiant comebacks. Red skaters score semi-regularly when chasing a game late in a contest. Need a comeback? Matt Buckles may be the forward to whom to turn. The sophomore has scored one-third of his goals late in the third period trying to mount a comeback. Despite his best efforts, he has failed to inspire a game-tying or game-winning rally. A late goal against Cornell was the Big Red's death sentence.
The Harvard fans in Cambridge knew that whether they were aware of it or not. The on-ice Crimson thought that they had made Cornell die by the same sword that enlivened the Ithacans at Lynah Rink. The Cantabs should have scored 4:22 later.
The public addresser had not finished announcing the last goal before he was backlogged. Teemu Tiitinen and Jared Fiegl did not make the Lynah Faithful wait long to ponder if this late goal would sink Cornell as three others had, including one the previous night. 1:03 was how long the Crimson enjoyed the belief that they had won the game.
Jared Fiegl, in a manner befitting the legacies of Murray Death and Mike Iggulden, found the puck settled just out of Michalek's reach. Fiegl buried it into the the top of the net above Michalek's ineffectual blocker. It was a syncopated commencement to one's collegiate scoring. It was the symphony's final chord.
The come-from-behind tie in the context of this season is as big as when Cornell finally proved against Yale and Brown that this team could score more than one or two goals. This edition of Cornell hockey is low-scoring. A late goal should be the death knell of its opponents. However, at this time of season, when the stakes of games appreciate, Schafer's team needed to prove that it would not be slain easily by the same blade. Proof of this is what Cornell carried from Lynah East.
A historic series that begs for moments from its modern participants, both skaters and spectators, found several that afternoon. The chickens continued their mid-Winter migration back to the ice of Cambridge. Ears of corn followed suit. Harvard fans were not the only ones engaging in hurling. Dodging the oncoming agrarian assault was captain John McCarron. Obviously, he took exception to the greeting. In a show of solidarity with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the student of the College of Human Ecology collected a chicken on the blade of his stick and returned it to an unoccupied section near its source. This episode and its associated installment may become The One with the Re-return. Time will tell.
For the Crimson, it may be the beginning of an end to apathy. Michael Ledecky and Jake Meagher of The Harvard Crimson have been fighting the good fight against student-fan apathy along the Charles. Both at various times have called for the resurrection of a long-forgotten group of Crimson fans, the "Harvard Hares." I am not sure if contemporaries among the Lynah Faithful have any tales to share, but this writer would love to hear the Cornell side of when Harvard knew true support.
Admittedly, this writer may not speak for the majority of Lynah Faithful, but Harvard's final farewell to athletic apathy would be a welcome reality. Programs as great as those of Cornell and Harvard deserve loyal fan support. A rivalry as rich as the one that these two institutions share demands widespread bilateral, reciprocal involvement. So, come along br'er rabbits, oh the fun we shall have, from Cambridge to Ithaca, from Lake Placid to Boston.