On the gridiron, the Game has been played 130 times between two of college sports’ biggest rivals: Yale and Harvard. Ben Sturner, CEO of Leverage Agency — the marketing company that put together the first-ever Rivalry on Ice — confirmed that those archrivals will face off once again with the eyes of the nation upon them, but this time in the rink.
Sturner confirmed that the 2015 Rivalry on Ice will again take place at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, Jan. 10.
On Jan. 11, Yale defeated Harvard 5–1 in the inaugural Rivalry on Ice in front of a 15,524 Bulldog and Crimson fans. Special guests, including official Rivalry on Ice ambassador Mark Messier and Secretary of State John Kerry ’66 attended the game. Leverage Agency helped arrange the game and coordinated details between Yale, Harvard and Madison Square Garden for the event.
“The feedback has all been incredibly positive, and we could not have been happier with the attendance and the excitement from this year’s Rivalry on Ice,” Sturner said. “We hope this was the first year of an annual tradition and look forward to going back to ‘the World’s Most Famous Arena’ for many years to come.”
Student feedback regarding the first Rivalry on Ice was positive. Three students interviewed said they were pleased with the atmosphere, location and outcome of the game.
While it is unclear what exactly future Rivalry on Ice competitions will offer players, alumni and fans, students interviewed said they are excited that the event is remaining at Madison Square Garden and in New York.
“I think that the game being in New York was critical to the amazing student and alumni presence,” Andrew Sobotka ’15 said. “MSG is clearly an iconic venue and a really fantastic experience I’m sure for the players and definitely for the fans. I think I speak for a lot of people in saying that this is the kind of event that I hope to see become part of the annual lineup for Yale Athletics.”
After this year’s Rivalry on Ice, The Thirsty Fan and Fitzgerald Ballroom at the Affinia Manhattan Hotel held postgame parties. For next year’s contest, Leverage Agency said it hopes to lengthen the experience.
Some aspects of the inaugural Rivalry on Ice went smoothly, but Sturner said he believes some activities can be added to improve the overall Rivalry on Ice weekend experience.
“We plan to add even more engagement for alumni and students, and make it a weekend of fun activities [and] networking all leading up to the at MSG.”
Yale athletics staff as well as members of the hockey team said they are excited for the game to take place at MSG again for the second year and hope it becomes an annual tradition.
Defenseman for the men’s ice hockey team Mitch Witek ’16 said the atmosphere in Madison Square Garden contributed to the pace of the game.
Associate Athletics Director Sports Publicity Steve Conn echoed Witek’s sentiments.
“Everyone I’ve asked feels New York City is the best place for a contest like this,” Conn said. “It was a near-capacity crowd, replete with celebrities of all kinds, and many of the fans took part in pre- and postgame parties in and around the Garden. The crowd appeared to be more Blue than Crimson, and [the fans] were rewarded with an excellent Yale effort on the ice.”
The Bulldogs and Crimson will next face each other on Friday in Cambridge, Mass.