With only four points separating the top five teams in the ECACHL, every league game carries with it an added sense of urgency. This has been the case for the past two weeks for the No. 8/9 men’s hockey team, which sits in third place in the league standings following this past weekend’s victories over Union and Rensselaer.
Cornell used strong performances on special teams both nights to earn a 2-1 overtime win Friday at Union before shutting out RPI, 5-0, on Saturday evening.
“Going on the road, we were kind of grinding out two victories,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “The 5-0 wasn’t as easy as it looked with all the penalties we had to kill off on that game. David played great, our penalty killing played great and we capitalized on our opportunities when we had the chances.”
Friday, senior assistant captain Mike Iggulden claimed the victory for the Red with a shorthanded goal 3:08 into the overtime period. Following a holding penalty on junior Jon Gleed with 2:44 remaining in the game, Iggulden picked up a puck in the neutral zone and beat two Union defenders down ice to beat Dutchman goalie Kris Mayotte for the marker.
“The guys were upset, they weren’t happy with the fact that the kid went down, they weren’t happy with the fact that the [assistant referee] made the call right in front of the first official,” Schafer said. “Mike Iggulden and Mike Knoepfli both made big plays in front of the goal. I like how they responded to it, they didn’t get worried, but they got upset, so when the goal went in, it was vindication from the standpoint of it shouldn’t have happened, it did happen, but then they took care of it. Mike Iggulden made a great play.”
The goal came on Union’s seventh power play on the evening. Cornell had six extra-man opportunities, making the game a true battle of the special teams.
Cornell’s first goal of the night came on the power play, as junior assistant captain Matt Moulson scored in the second on assists by freshman Topher Scott and senior Charlie Cook. “The way they’re calling the game, it is a special teams game,” Schafer said.
It was much the same story Saturday night, as the team combined for 16 power play chances.
However, while the Red penalty kill went a perfect 10-for-10 on the game, Cornell’s power play was able to capitalize twice to help pad a 5-0 victory, sophomore goalie David McKee’s third shutout this season and the eighth of his career. Junior Daniel Pegoraro, Cook, sophomore Mitch Carefoot, senior captian Mike Knoepfli, and junior Shane Hynes all scored for Cornell.
However, Schafer was most impressed by the performance of his power play and penalty kill units, particularly after the strong performances of those units the previous night.
“The whole game, the way it’s changed again is ridiculous,” Schafer said. “I’ve said it all along and I’ll continue to state it publically. Right now they’re rewarding college players for turning their back when they’re going to get hit, they’re rewarding college players for diving, and they’re making the referee’s job really hard. So they choose to call the easiest, the most obvious [penalties], and when a guy goes down every time there’s contact. We have a lot contact in our game. There’s to ways to play, you can play with respect and stay on your feet and be strong, or you can dive all over the place and try to draw a penalty.”
Special teams will likely again play an important role when the Red returns home this weekend for the first time since early December to play host to Dartmouth and Vermont.
Archived article by Owen Bochner
Sun Sports Editor