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Ivy League rivals Cornell, Harvard fit to be tied Friday

Cornell and Harvard skated to an entertaining 2-2 tie in ECAC play on Friday night at Bright-Landry Hockey Center. The Crimson clinched at least a share of the Ivy League championship with the result.

Matt Dewkett

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- The Ivy League championship has been a goal for the 13th-ranked Harvard Crimson all season long, and they had a chance to finish the job outright on Friday night.

However, No. 16 Cornell entered with other plans and skated to a 2-2 tie with the Crimson, taking at least a point out of Cambridge for the sixth consecutive time.

The Crimson did clinch at least a share of its first Ivy title in ten years with the result, but head coach Ted Donato's bunch was disappointed it could not finish the job while controlling its own destiny.

"I think, obviously, we would have liked to get the win. That was the objective," Donato said, after his team's record moved to 14-8-4 on the season and 10-5-4 in ECAC play. "I thought the guys played hard. I thought in the first period we had some chances maybe to get out in front, and their goalie made some huge saves."

The Big Red has now lost just four of its last 17 meetings with the Crimson. The teams also played to a stalemate last season in Cambridge, a 3-3 game on Feb. 14, 2015.

Gillam faced the brunt of the work in the first period, making 14 saves to keep the Crimson close.

Harvard ended up taking a 1-0 lead, drawing first blood just 8:32 into the contest. Junior Sean Malone scored his second goal in as many games, lifting a loose puck that took an errant bounce off referee Cameron Lynch past Gillam.

The officials had a unique impact on the game. In addition to the puck that bounced off Lynch directly leading to the goal, several scrambles in front of the nets kept on moving without whistles.

"A wild game. What can you say? Just a wild game from the goals that were scored, calls that were made, but I thought the two teams played really hard," Cornell head coach Mike Schafer said. "It's tough to get points these days, so it was good to come on the road and scrape one out tonight."

Nobody was getting in the way of the puck on Cornell's tying goal as senior captain Teemu Tiitinen took rookie defenseman Alec McCrea's headman feed through the middle of the ice for a clean breakaway 5:05 into the second frame.

Tiitinen moved through the slot untouched and placed an accurate wrister low to Harvard sophomore Merrick Madsen's blocker side. Madsen's biggest tests of the night came in the latter half of the game as he made 22 of his 31 saves after the first period.

The Big Red saw the game tip its way in the third period, holding a decided 13-9 shots on goal advantage. However, it was the Crimson that found the back of the net first in the frame as sophomore Seb Lloyd scored his third goal of the season at the 7:56 mark.

Lloyd was the beneficiary of another fortunate bounce as the he was the last Crimson player to touch the puck in the middle of a mad scramble in Gillam's crease. The puck caromed off a pair of Cornell players and then off Moy before finding daylight.

"I thought that line played really well," said Crimson senior co-captain Kyle Criscuolo. "He was flying early, got the first goal for us. He battled and had his wheels tonight too. He should be good to go, but he had a good night."

The visitors were quick to respond, and found offense from an unlikely source at the 9:19 mark.

Sophomore Dan Wedman's first collegiate goal came in a big spot, ultimately lifting Cornell to its sixth tie of the season. Freshman Anthony Angello won an offensive zone faceoff clean and the defenseman, playing in his 54th career game, found the back of the net with a high shot that changed directions on its way through from the center point.

There were chances for Cornell to take the lead from there on out, but Madsen was equal to every test. One of the best opportunities in the final frame came off the stick of Bellingham, Mass., native Beau Starrett just more than a minute after the visitors tied the game.

Madsen handled Starrett's initial try from a sharp angle at the side of the cage, before he wound around the net and placed another Grade-A chance on net.

"That's why I say it was a wild game, from the calls and things, and the goaltenders made unbelievable saves," Schafer said. "The type of saves those guys made to keep it a 2-2 game were phenomenal."

Donato expressed that he felt his team lost a bit of its track as the game went along, allowing Cornell to extend the game into its 12th overtime period of the season, tying a program record.

"They're very disciplined and strong on the puck," Donato said of Cornell. "When we were able to get the game going fast, I thought it was to our advantage. And when they were able to hold onto pucks and trap us in our own zone, some of their size and strength played to their advantage."