Harvard traveled to Lynah Rink to take on rival Cornell tonight in a game that aired on NBC Sports Network. There was a lot of intrigue in this game for me. Not only was it a rivalry, it was two pretty good teams--both teams were ranked in the top 20--and an interesting contrast in styles. Cornell is a very big team that plays strong defense and likes to impose their will physically, while Harvard is a smaller, quicker, and more skilled team.
After a fairly tight first period, the game broke wide open at the end of the period with a flurry of goals. Harvard got on the board first with a nice goal by Boston Bruins prospect Alexander Fallstrom.Good forecheck discipline by a Harvard forward to stay with his man rather than follow the puck led to a turnover in the Cornell end, and Fallstrom took a pass from Patrick McNally and buried it for a goal. Cornell answered back just 28 seconds later on the first career goal by freshman John Knisley. But in what might have been the key moment of the game, Harvard answered that goal with a goal by Mike Seward just 32 seconds later to take the home crowd out of the game and kill any momentum Cornell might have gained out of that goal.
Kyle Criscuolo, who was dangerous all night, netted his third goal of the season with 2:17 left in the second period to take a two-goal lead. Harvard tried to sit on their two-goal lead in the third period, and I thought that conservative strategy might come back to bite them, but Cornell was never able to breakthrough offensively and Harvard's Petr Placek scored an empty net goal to ice the victory for the Crimson.
Harvard looked pretty good tonight. For the past couple of years, they've seemed like a team that had some real talent on their roster, but never quite put it together to be a successful team. This year's team looks to finally be taking advantage of that talent, with a strong start, and a very difficult road victory here against a good team. Cornell, for their part, looked pretty good as well. Like I said, they're a big team, and should be able to just punish teams physically. Both teams looked like they will at least be very strong contenders for an NCAA tournament berth at the end of the season.