Proving once again how important its special teams are to its success, the No. 8/9 men’s hockey team capitalized on two of its five power plays Saturday night, as it defeated No. 14 Vermont (13-9-3, 7-4-2 ECACHL) for its fifth consecutive victory.
Junior assistant captain Matt Moulson scored his 13th goal of the season on a power play at 9:55 of the second on a play very similar to the one on which he scored the night before. Three minutes later, Cornell (13-4-2, 9-2-1 ECACHL) doubled its lead when freshman Topher Scott scored, when he received the puck from sophomore Byron Bitz in front of the Vermont goal, and swung it around his own legs to elude Catamount goalie Travis Russell on the left at 6:45.
“We had it on the power play, Sasha [Pokulok] made a nice play to get it to the net to Bitzy, and he just kind of threw it in front and I was just lucky enough to be there and had a wide open net and just shoved it in,” Scott explained.
The win was a stark contrast to the last time the two teams met, when Vermont came back from a 2-0 defect to tie the Nov. 19 game in Burlington.
“We had three [power plays] in a row last time and we ended up getting some timely scoring,” said Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon. “I don’t know if we had any power plays tonight, but the one or two we did, I thought we did some good things. It’s so hard to score on Cornell, they do such a good job in their own zone, and obviously McKee’s a great goaltender. I thought the difference was we took a couple of untimely penalties, too many men on the ice, and the penalty that we took late when they went up 2-0. Probably gave Moulson a little too much room that one time, I’ll take blame for that, we were playing for the low play, and our defensemen I don’t think was out in the shooting range that he needed to be.”
Cornell was disciplined throughout, holding Vermont to just two power plays as opposed to the eight it took in Burlington in November.
“Give our guys a lot of credit, they responded to our coaches’ request this week to be more disciplined and not take penalties,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “We did the job as far as not taking penalties and putting them on the power play because they’ve got some great players.”
Vermont cut the Red lead at 12:39 in the third, when Torrey Mitchell took a shot from outside, which deflected off a couple of Cornell’s players’ skates before sailing in past sophomore goaltender David McKee’s left shoulder.
“One of their players tried to clear it, and I intercepted a pass and I one-timed it, just trying to get something going to the net,” Mitchell said. “At that point shots were so important to us, and I guess it deflected off one of their guys and it went up into the top of the net. A little luck, it felt good though.”
The game marked the last time the two teams will face each other as ECACHL opponents. The victory also gave the second-place Red some distance in the very close ECACHL standings. Cornell continues its five-game homestand on Friday when it plays host to Clarkson in a game that will be televised nationally by CSTV>
Archived article by Owen Bochner
Sun Sports Editor