Published by the New York Times
The first Harvard-Yale hockey game was played in 1900 at St. Nicholas Rink off Columbus Avenue in Manhattan. It was so long ago that when the Elis won, 5-4, their fans celebrated with the Yale frog cheer, based on a passage from Aristophanes. “Brek-ek-ek-ex,” it began, mimicking the chorus of frogs on the banks of the River Styx.
On Saturday night, the two old rivals met again in New York for their 239th game. Yale won this one as well, 5-1, amid a far more contemporary atmosphere and an announced crowd of 15,524 at Madison Square Garden, but with plenty of tradition on display. The Spizzwinks, a Yale men’s a cappella chorus, performed the national anthem. The universities’ bands played from opposite corners in the balcony. And for generations of Harvard and Yale hockey players, the echoes of the past reverberated alongside those of the present.
“I’m not going to fool around here; I love the rivalry and I love the tradition,” said Secretary of State John Kerry, the former Massachusetts senator who played junior-varsity hockey for Yale in the mid-1960s. “But it was always a little ironic being the senator from Harvard hockey when my heart was at Yale.”