Since its establishment in 1865, Cornell University has a rich history in academics, research, and athletics. The Ivy League school, located in Ithaca, New York, has produced numerous accomplished individuals and achieved remarkable successes in various fields. Cornell’s sports teams, particularly its ice hockey program, have also made a name for themselves, with a long list of victories and unforgettable moments.
For passionate fans of the sport, Cornell hockey holds a special place in their hearts. The team’s history is peppered with ups and downs, but it’s the historic upsets and wins that truly stand out. From defeating top-ranked opponents to winning championships, let’s take a look at some of the most memorable moments in Cornell hockey history.
Defeating the Soviet National Team (March 14, 1972)
In the early 1970s, Soviet hockey was at its peak, dominating the international scene and even beating professional NHL teams. So when Cornell faced off against the Soviet National Team in a preseason game, no one expected much from the underdog college team. However, Cornell pulled off a stunning upset, defeating the Soviets 6-4. This was the first time an American college team had beaten the Soviet National Team, marking a significant moment in Cornell hockey history.
Back-to-Back NCAA Championships (1970, 1971)
The late 1960s and early 1970s were golden years for Cornell hockey, and the team’s dominance was evident in their back-to-back NCAA Championships in 1970 and 1971. Led by legendary coach Ned Harkness, the Big Red took down formidable opponents such as Boston University and University of Michigan to claim the top spot. These two championships were the first for any Ivy League school, solidifying Cornell’s status as a powerhouse in college hockey.
Becoming the First Ivy League Team to Win the ECAC Tournament (1986)
The Big Red’s success continued throughout the 1980s, and in 1986, Cornell made history once again by becoming the first Ivy League team to win the ECAC Tournament. It was a thrilling game, with Cornell facing off against the defending champions Harvard. After back-and-forth goals, the game went into overtime, and it was Cornell’s Joe Nieuwendyk who scored the winning goal to secure the victory for his team. This moment further cemented Cornell’s dominance in college hockey.
David vs. Goliath: Cornell vs. Boston University (March 27, 2003)
In 2003, Cornell was once again the underdog against a powerhouse team, this time facing off against the top-ranked Boston University Terriers in the NCAA East Regional Final. Despite the odds, Cornell pulled off one of the biggest upsets in college hockey history, defeating Boston University 2-1 and earning a spot in the Frozen Four for the first time since their back-to-back championships in the 1970s. The win also marked the first time an Ivy League team had reached the Frozen Four since the tournament expanded in 1988.
The Puck That Took Down a Dynasty (April 6, 2003)
As if their upset against Boston University wasn’t impressive enough, Cornell went on to make even more history in the Frozen Four semifinals. The Big Red faced off against the defending champions, the University of New Hampshire, and in the final seconds of the game, Cornell’s Sam Paolini scored a goal to bring the win to his team. This was the first time a team from the East had defeated a team from the West in the semifinals, and it ended the University of New Hampshire’s dynasty, as they had won the NCAA title the two previous years.
First NCAA National Championship Appearance (April 17, 2003)
After defeating formidable opponents in the East Regional Final and the Frozen Four semifinals, Cornell was set to face off against the University of Minnesota in the NCAA National Championship. While they ultimately lost to the Golden Gophers, it was a monumental moment for Cornell, as it was their first time reaching the championship game.
These are just a few of the many historic upsets and wins in Cornell hockey history. The team continues to impress and inspire fans, with notable moments such as their participation in the first-ever “Midnight Madness” game in 1989 and their return to the NCAA Frozen Four in 2010 after a 15-year hiatus.
From defeating top-ranked opponents to making school and Ivy League history, Cornell hockey has had its fair share of unforgettable moments. And for fans of the sport, these moments will forever be etched in their minds as testament to the team’s determination, skill, and passion for the game.