Nov. 30, 2009

Big Red hockey fans take over Madison Square Garden

With more than 12,000 Cornell fans showing up to taunt the Terriers, the Big Red gave Boston University a big scare at the Red Hot Hockey game at Madison Square Garden, Nov. 28. Cornell held on to a one-point lead until the final minute of the third period when BU evened out the score. The game went into an intense but scoreless overtime, resulting in a tie of 3-3.

Cornell made up two-thirds of the sold-out arena, and fans chanted such insults "safety school" to the offense and "sieve" to the goalie.

"BU has the same colors as us, so it looks like it's 100 percent [Cornell]," said Andrew Tisch '71, a Cornell trustee.

Big Red fans got revved up at several alumni events before the game; the largest, with some 800 fans, was the Rinkside Rally with President David Skorton and Coach Mike Schafer '86 and plenty of hot dogs, burgers and chicken fingers. Two makeup artists were on hand to paint "CU" on children's faces (as well as on some spirited adults) while the Big Red Pep band paraded through the crowd, playing fight songs.

Alumni also gathered before the game at various nearby bars. The Class of 1957 had a pre-game dinner at Niles, while the ILR Alumni Association convened at Brother Jimmy's. Later on, more than 500 young alumni partied at a post-game reception at Slattery's.

"Cornell took advantage of an incredible opportunity to gather hundreds of Cornell alumni, parents, students and friends in the heart of New York City," said Jessica Raha '99, senior associate director of regional programs in the Office of Alumni Affairs.

It was the first time that Cornell had played hockey in the city since it lost to BU in 2007, a game that the Frank family had all attended. Manhattan resident Erica Frank '03 partied at the Rinkside Rally and the game with her parents, Marshall and Rosanna Frank, both Class of 1961, of Chappaqua, N.Y. This time, Rosanna sold red-and-white felt boas to fans, while Erica reminisced. "It was really fun when we were sophomores, and we camped out overnight to get season tickets," she said.

Diehard fans Jon and Katie Schoenberg (both Class of 2003 and third-year Ph.D. students) traveled from Ithaca for the post-Thanksgiving game, donning jerseys autographed by brothers Mike and Joe Devin, both juniors and on the team. Last Thanksgiving, the Schoenbergs traveled to the University of North Dakota, where they estimated they were two of about 15 Cornell fans.

At the Rinkside Rally, Skorton introduced Schafer as "the winningest coach in Cornell history," referencing his 276 wins, and asked alumni to "be nice to those BU fans, they can't help where they went to school."

For the first two periods, it looked like victory was in reach. After the first three minutes, Sean Whitney scored a goal. Two minutes later, Locke Jillson scored the second goal. BU's first goal wasn't until the middle of the second period, and it was closely followed by a third Cornell goal by Blake Gallagher. But in the third period, BU scored twice more, with the final shot in the last minute. Boston dominated the ice throughout the game, shooting 35 times on goalie Ben Scrivens, while Cornell only took 17 shots on the BU goalie.

Liz Borod Wright '99 is a freelance writer in New York City.