Despite the firmly locked doors and grounded zambonis at NHL arenas across the country, thrilling hockey matchups were not difficult to find over the winter break. The Cornell men’s squad (11-4-2, 7-2-1 ECACHL) continued its wreckage of the ECACHL, notching three league victories — prior to the sweep of RPI and Union last weekend — and ascending to first place in the Ivy standings.
The Red also embarked on a successful trip to Estero, Fla., where the team compiled a 1-1 record against nationally ranked Boston College and Maine at the Florida College Classic. Heading into this weekend’s home series against Vermont and Dartmouth, the Red is locked in a two-way tie with Harvard for third place in the ECACHL.
The Red opened the break with an offensive explosion, tallying five goals in the second period of a lopsided 6-2 victory over Yale at Lynah rink on Dec. 3. Cornell received goals from six different players and two of the scores came on the power play. Freshman Topher Scott broke a scoreless game at the 8:55 mark of the second period, banging home a rebound to record his first career power play goal. Linemates Matt Moulson and Shane Hynes were credited with assists. The high-scoring unit was responsible for two more tallies on the evening, as Hynes added Cornell’s fourth goal of the second period and Moulson wrapped up the contest with a third period score. Senior captain Mike Knoepfli also provided a scoring boost, finishing the game with a goal and two assists.
The following evening, the Red found itself in a closely-fought contest against Ivy foe Princeton at Lynah Rink. After trading goals in the first period and early in the second, Moulson scored on the power play to put the Red ahead of the Tigers, 3-2, with under eight minutes remaining in the second stanza. Senior winger Paul Varteressian notched Cornell’s fourth goal and the eventual game-winner with 19 seconds left in the period, providing the squad with a two-goal cushion going into the final period. Princeton center Landis Stankievech brought intrigue to the game with a short-hander early in the final period to bring the Tigers within one. Yet, Cornell forward Cam Abbott silenced the Tigers’ comeback with a power play goal at the 11:09 mark of the third, assuring the Red a four-point weekend.
The sunny skies and beautiful women of south Florida may have distracted the officials during the Red’s opening round game of the Florida College Classic against then-No. 5 Boston College on Dec. 28 — the game featured a combined 28 penalties for 67 minutes, and each of the six goals came in a special teams situation. The Eagles scored first on a 5-on-3 power play, as BC winger Dan Bertram netted a goal barely two minutes into the contest. Cornell responded with a short-handed goal at the 8:10 mark by sophomore Ryan O’Byrne, who picked off an errant B.C. pass in the Cornell zone and capitalized on the ensuing 2-on-1. The Eagles jumped ahead again in the second period off a goal by center Ryan Shannon, but Knoepfli equalized the score with a power play tally with just under a minute to play in the period. However, the third period belonged solely to the Eagles, who took advantage of another 5-on-3 situation at the 8:45 mark to snag a 3-2 lead. BC center Brian Gionta sealed the victory with an empty-net goal and sent Cornell to only its third loss of the season.
The Red rebounded the next evening, sending then-No. 15 Maine to a 4-3 loss behind the strength of three power play goals. After converting only one of eleven opportunities with the man advantage against BC, Cornell capitalized on all but one power play opportunity against the Black Bears. Red junior Daniel Pegoraro started the scoring by banging home his own rebound past Maine netminder Jimmy Howard with eight minutes remaining in the first period. Senior Charlie Cook and Moulson both added a goal and an assist during the game, and freshman defenseman Sasha Pokulok was credited with two assists.
On its return to league action, the Red pulled off a comfortable victory over Brown in Providence, R.I. on Jan 7, but fell in a heartbreaking contest to Harvard in Cambridge, Mass. the following night. Things appeared dicey for Cornell early against the Bears, who scored first 1:22 into the game. However, the Red solidified behind the offensive prowess of Pegoraro, who tallied a goal and an assist in his second multiple-point game of the season. Freshman defenseman Doug Krantz also jumped into the action, adding two assists in the Red’s fifth league win of the season.
The Crimson suffocated the Cornell sharpshooters, posting a 1-0 victory over the Red at the Bright Center — the first victory for Harvard in the series since the 2001-02 ECACHL final. Crimson goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris outlasted Cornell’s David McKee, posting 27 saves to McKee’s 24. Harvard sophomore Kevin Du scored the only goal of the night, tapping a rebound past McKee five minutes into the third period.
Overall, the Red posted a 4-2 record over the break.
Archived article by Kyle Sheahen
Sun Assistant Sports Editor