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Rivalry Renewed

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Courtesy: Jim Roberts, Cornell Alumni Magazine

These days, if you ask a Cornell hockey fan to name the Big Red's most important rival, the answer will be "Harvard." But thirty-five years ago, there might have been a different response. In the late Sixties and Seventies, it seemed that whenever a league or tournament title was on the line, the opponent wore the scarlet and white of Boston University. "They were as good as there was," says legendary Cornell hockey coach Ned Harkness, who led the Big Red to NCAA championships in 1967 and 1970. "They were always wellschooled, and their coach, Jack Kelley, was the best coach that we played against."

The rivalry has faded--Cornell stopped playing Boston University regularly after 1983, when BU and five other New England teams left the ECAC to form Hockey East--but a special event this fall promises to rekindle memories of those great old battles on ice. On Saturday, November 24 (two days after Thanksgiving), Cornell will face BU at New York's Madison Square Garden, in a game sure to bring national attention to college hockey.

The idea was hatched a couple of years ago, when BU athletic director Mike Lynch approached Cornell Athletics about scheduling a "showcase" game. "We have thousands of alumni in the New York City area, as does Cornell," says Lynch, "so it seemed like a great idea for both schools."Discussions with Cornell's Anita Brenner '87, associate athletic director, and Jeff Hall, sports marketing director, ensued. Cornell head coach Mike Schafer '86 also talked with his counterpart at BU, Jack Parker. The details were worked out early this year, and tickets went on sale in late April.

Cornell first faced Boston University in 1924, in a game played on Beebe Lake; BU won, 7-2. They met again a year later (another BU victory), but that was it until 1965, after Harkness had come to the Hill and the Big Red had joined the ECAC. During the Harkness era (1963?????????70), his teams enjoyed the upper hand against the Terriers, posting a 9-0-1 record, securing four straight ECAC championships, and defeating BU 4-1 in the 1967 national title game. (Jack Parker was a player on that BU team; he became the head coach there in 1973 and has gone on to record 742 wins.)

To read the rest of Jim Roberts' piece on the Cornell/Boston University hockey rivalry as seen in the Cornell Alumni Magazine, please click here.