HAMILTON, N.Y. — If you didn’t know better, you might have thought that it was just one team playing an intra-squad scrimmage Friday night at Starr Rink, rather than a highly critical matchup between two of the top teams in the country. That’s because for 60 minutes, the No. 6 men’s hockey team and No. 11 Colgate played games that so closely resembled one another, it was often hard to believe that either team would ever break through.
The Red (16-4-2, 12-2-1 ECACHL) was the team to finally do it though, as senior assistant captain Mike Iggulden scored the game-winning goal with 1:33 remaining in the contest to shatter a scoreless deadlock and send Cornell to a 1-0 victory, its seventh in a row.
The goal came directly following a faceoff in the neutral zone right after Colgate (19-8-0, 11-4-0 ECACHL) had taken a time out at 18:16 in the third. Senior captain Mike Knoepfli drew a Colgate player away from the puck, which allowed junior Chris Abbott to take control. Abbott found a hole, and raced down the ice on a 2-on-1 with Iggulden past the Raiders’ defensemen.
“We said off the draw, if we won it, we were going to try to wrap it around, Knoepfli was going to take their man and Iggy and I were going to try to come through with support,” Abbott said. “And sure enough, we won the draw, and Mike took care of his guy and we came down on the 2-on-1.”
Iggulden stationed himself to the left of Colgate goaltender Steve Silverthorn, and patiently received a cross-ice pass from Abbott. Iggulden elevated the puck over Silverthorn’s shoulder for his second game-winner this season.
“I just went to the net hard, I was lucky enough to get it on my stick and get it past the goalie,” Iggulden said.
The goal broke some of the tension in a battle that matched two of the top goaltenders in the ECACHL in Silverthorn and Cornell sophomore David McKee. Through the first two periods of the game, the netminders had posted identical lines — zero goals, 17 saves. How they went about recording those statistics was also eerily similar. Throughout the game, both goalies made saves on shots that often seemed destined to find the back of the net. In fact, each made his signature save of the game within minutes of each other halfway through the third.
First, with about 13:35 remaining, junior Daniel Pegoraro poked the puck into the left corner of Colgate’s goal, up against the left post. However, just as the puck appeared to trickle past the goal line, Silverthorn reached back and covered up the slow-moving puck with his glove to preserve the scoreless tie.
Then, on Colgate’s next trip into the Cornell defensive zone, Jon Smyth fired a bullet on net from point blank range 20 seconds into a Raider power play. McKee, however, got a pad down just in time.
“That one save he made on Jon Smyth at the side of the net, that was one of the best saves I’ve ever seen,” said Colgate head coach Don Vaughan. “Smitty got all of that, it came across the goal crease, and McKee got the pad on it. It was a great save.”
Defensively, both teams applied enough pressure to keep the shots limited. For Cornell, Friday night was it’s second consecutive 1-0 victory.
“It’s awesome, we thrive on that kind of game, we know we’re a good defensive team,” McKee said. “Like the St. Lawrence game, you just have to know you’re going to win, and it happened again, it’s just Cornell hockey.”
“Obviously we’re very evenly matched,” Vaughan said. “We had opportunities early, hit a couple of posts, it didn’t go for us, and they capitalized on I think the only mistake we made in the third period. That’s what good teams do.”
The Red came away from the game extremely satisfied, as the two points provided a little bit of distance at the top of the ECACHL standings.
“If you’re going to have success, this is one of the toughest places to play in,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “It’s a good win on the road against a top-10 team. Regardless of the result, that team across the way is a top 10 team in the country, so it bodes well for both our programs that we had that hard of a game.”
Archived article by Owen Bochner
Sun Sports Editor