In two hard-fought games this past weekend, the No. 4 men’s hockey team came out of its first ECACHL series with a pair of wins on the road, beating Yale, 4-2, and downing Brown, 3-2, in overtime.
“I think that it was a solid weekend for us,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “I think in both games, we had a lot of scoring chances and the opportunities to build leads. We found ourselves in two tough games and found the ability to win.”
Cornell’s (3-1-0, 2-0-0 ECACHL) game against the Bulldogs (0-2-0, 0-2-0) on Friday night was an intense affair, as the teams were called for a combined 45 penalties and a school-record 168 penalty minutes. This included a brawl in front of the Cornell net with 46 seconds remaining in the game.
But, Cornell would escape Ingalls Rink with the two points. The Red got on the board first in the opening period when senior Chris Abbott controlled the puck but lost his footing outside the left faceoff circle. Freshman Evan Barlow regained possession before passing to junior defenseman Dan Glover, who ripped a shot past Yale goaltender Josh Gartner, giving Cornell the lead.
While Nate Jackson struck back for the Bulldogs later in the first period, Cornell regained the lead with 3:12 left in the frame, when juniors Mitch Carefoot and Mark McCutcheon found themselves on a 2-on-1 short-handed breakaway. Gartner partially saved a shot from Carefoot, but the puck trickled across the line.
Throughout the night, Yale played extremely hard, and scored an equalizer 1:40 into the second period when Brad Mills hit a shot which Jeff Hristovski tried to tip in. Junior goaltender David McKee, who had 27 saves on the night, made the initial save, but Mills picked up the rebound and slotted it home.
“You play hockey at Cornell and not many teams like you,” Schafer said. “When you’re ranked high and you’ve had success, it’s everybody’s big game.”
While the Red had a number of scoring chances, it did not find the back of the net until it earned a power play in the third period. Freshman Tyler Mugford passed the puck to senior Daniel Pegoraro, who skated in and centered it to sophomore Raymond Sawada. Sawada one-timed it past Gartner, handing the Red its third lead of the game. McKee was strong in net, making a number of key saves, including snuffing out a Mills and Hristovski 2-on-1 breakaway.
McCutcheon scored an empty-netter to seal the result. However, a pileup in front of Cornell’s net after McCutcheon’s strike resulted in 19 penalties for 108 minutes, including game disqualifications for Red sophomore Sasha Pokulok and Yale’s Brennan Turner, as both were suspended for their respective games on Saturday.
While the game was plagued by penalties, Schafer said that teams all around the league are still trying to adjust to the officiating and calls. Despite Pokulok’s suspension as well as the 10-minute game misconducts given to three of his players as a result of the melee, Schafer said that he was pleased that some of his other players showed restraint from earning themselves penalties at the end of the game.
Cornell was banged up when it went into Brown’s Meehan Auditorium, as Abbott and senior Jon Gleed were scratched due to injuries and Pokulok was suspended. But, even though the Red dressed only five defensemen for the Brown game, including freshmen Jared Seminoff and Taylor Davenport – who played his first game for Cornell on Saturday – Schafer was pleased with his team’s effort, as Carefoot notched the game-winner in overtime.
“Jared and Taylor hadn’t logged a lot of ice time, so for those guys to step it up on the road, it was huge,” Schafer said. “I thought those guys did a good job and our forwards did a good job.”
Cornell scored first against the Bears (0-2-0, 0-2-0) on the power play after Brown’s Pete LeCain was called for a two-minute minor for hooking just 25 seconds into the first period. On the ensuing man-advantage, Cornell junior Byron Bitz passed the puck to classmate Ryan O’Byrne, who ripped a shot which senior Matt Moulson deflected past Brown goaltender Adam D’Alba for his fourth goal of the year.
Brown would get back into the game after Jarrett Robertson stripped the puck from a Cornell player at the blue line and skated in on McKee, going top shelf and beating the goaltender. Cornell had a controversial goal disallowed after Moulson hit a shot in the second period which hit the crossbar and looked like it went into the net. The goal light turned on, but officials ruled that the puck never went past the goal line.
The Red looked dangerous during that period, outshooting Brown 16-4 in the second. Cornell finally broke through four minutes into the third period, when sophomore Topher Scott gathered a rebound from a Pegoraro shot, and slotted it home.
However, the pesky Bears would stick around, and with 7:24 left in the game, Jeff Prough knocked in a rebound off a wrap-around shot by Brian Ihnacak.
Despite not clicking on all cylinders, Cornell was triumphant in overtime. After McKee saved a Brown short-handed breakaway opportunity, Carefoot deflected a Cam Abbott shot past D’Alba with 1:40 left in the period to earn his team a dramatic win. McKee made 19 saves and D’Alba stopped 34 shots.
Schafer said that he was impressed with how his squad were starting to gel well as a team and running the team’s systems more smoothly. While the Red left New Haven, Conn., and Providence, R.I., with four points this past weekend, things do not get any easier, as Cornell will travel to Ivy powerhouses Harvard and Dartmouth this Friday and Saturday, respectively.
“I think this could be one of the toughest opening six games we’ve had,” Schafer said. “We have two more tough games at Dartmouth and Harvard. [But], I’m happy with the way we responded by being more disciplined and I’m happy that our young freshmen came through.”
Archived article by Brian Tsao
Sun Assistant Sports Editor