Away from home for the first time this season, the men’s hockey team made a statement this weekend, picking up two road wins en route to a four-point weekend. On Friday night, the No. 11/13 Red defeated a scrappy Brown team by a narrow 3-2 margin, while the Red powered past Yale with a 5-2 victory on Saturday night.
“Obviously they are important victories. For a young team going on the road, it can be a lot more difficult to win away from home,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “We knew we were going to have our work cut out for us, and our guys did a really good job of coming up with two victories.”
Sophomore Evan Barlow led the Red (4-0-0, 2-0-0 ECACHL) to victory over the Bears (0-1-2, 0-1-1) with a two-goal effort, including the game winner in the third period. Against Yale (3-1-0, 1-1-0), it was senior Mark McCutcheon and junior assistant captain Topher Scott who supplied the heroics, each contributing a goal and two assists in the win.
Both games were characterized by penalties, with 35 being called in the Brown game. The referees then distributed 83 minutes of penalties on Saturday against Yale. Thus far in the season, teams have failed to adjust the new rules, which focus on obstruction and interference.
[img_assist|nid=19639|title=Helping hands|desc=Freshman foward Tony Romano (8) assisted on sophomore Evan Barlow’s game-winning goal in Cornell’s 3-2 victory over Brown in Providence, R.I., Friday night.|link=popup|align=left|width=100|height=66]
“I think that a lot of it depends on who the officials are, and its just the way hockey is going,” Schafer said. “I thought that both nights our team was much more disciplined, and against Yale it really helped us out.”
On Friday night, a feisty Brown team came out of the gates looking for the upset. The Bears started the scoring off just 6:20 into the game, after Cornell failed to clear the puck. With a man advantage, junior Sean Hurley kept the puck in the zone at the right point and fed sophomore Eric Slais in the left corner. Slais controlled the puck before setting up junior Chris Poli in the slot, who buried a one-timer past sophomore goalie Troy Davenport to give the Bears a 1-0 lead.
“[Brown is] a team that is much older, that has some guys who can put up some numbers offensively on the power play,” Schafer said. “They are very well coached. It was a tough game for us, and I was very happy to get out of there with a win.”
Trailing 1-0 heading into the second, the Red was frustrated by the stand-up play of Brown sophomore goalie Mark Sibbald, who recorded 25 saves in the loss. However, just under five minutes into the second period, Cornell found the equalizer. Junior Doug Krantz fired a hard slap-shot at the net from the left point as Barlow was able to tip the puck high past Sibbald.
Less than six minutes later, Cornell would take the lead when, on the power play, McCutcheon picked up the puck after he had his first shot blocked and fired another that was deflected home by junior Ray Sawada. Brown, penalized for three game misconducts throughout the game, was able to find the equalizer just over two minutes into the third on another power play goal.
Cornell, with its penchant for coming through in close games, pulled out another one. Just 23 seconds later, Barlow put the Red ahead for good on his second tally of the night when he put home a Krantz rebound. Brown would come close to equalizing, but Cornell was able to fend off the Bears and protect the 3-2 lead.
Davenport made 22 saves in the win, as the Red out-shot the Bears, 28-24. Cornell’s power play unit struggled against Brown, going just 1-for-13 in the win, including two failed five-minute power plays.
“It’s early in the year, and [the power play unit] is still trying to find chemistry, but at the same time, every night, you see a different penalty kill. They did a good job,” Schafer said.
On Saturday night, the Red was back at it, this time against Yale at Ingalls Rink in New Haven, Conn. This game was also rife with penalties, and also included three game misconducts, including one against Cornell sophomore Tyler Mugford.
The Red did not take long to get going, taking the lead just under three minutes into the first frame. On the power play, Scott roofed a backhander from the left face-off circle that beat sophomore goalie Alec Richards, with assists going to McCutcheon and sophomore Jared Seminoff.
“I think both nights showed that the start is not necessarily critical. We were down 1-0 on Friday night, but we stuck with it and came back,” Schafer said. “But, at the same time, getting out to a quick start and getting the lead is important too. I thought we didn’t overreact, and just kept plugging away.”
Although both teams were heavily penalized, Yale drew the bulk of the whistles, taking 16 penalties to Cornell’s nine. That proved to be the Bulldogs’ downfall, as Cornell went 3-for-12 on the power play en route to the 5-2 victory.
“We have to learn that lesson or we are going to take it on the chin again and again,” said Yale head coach Keith Allain with respect to his team’s penalty troubles in a press release. “There are a lot of things we can take away from this game. We have to continue to learn from our mistakes and get better as a team.”
With just seven seconds remaining in the first stanza, the Red went ahead 2-0 on another power play marker. McCutcheon, after taking a pass from Scott, unleashed a slap shot from the left point that beat Richards high-glove side. Seminoff picked up his second helper of the game on the goal.
Yale cut the lead in half on a power-play goal of its own when, with under two minutes elapsed in the second period, senior Bill LeClerc took a pass from junior Robert Page and beat a surprised Davenport with a low wrister.
Cornell, however, maintained the course, and with two goals within two minutes of each other in the middle of the second period, put the game out of reach for Yale. Sawada, on a breakaway, netted a shorthanded tally with a nifty deke and a perfectly placed five-hole shot. Freshman Colin Greening picked up his first career collegiate goal after directing in a shot from classmate Tony Romano.
Yale did not back down and made it a 4-2 game on sophomore Matt Nelson’s goal just 19 seconds after Greening’s. The Red added some extra insurance on Romano’s power-play goal late in the second period. With a 5-on-3 advantage, McCutcheon and Scott were battling along the boards when the puck came out to Romano, who buried the wrister.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the third period, as Cornell kept the pressure on, out-shooting Yale, 12-6, in the final frame. Indeed, the Red dominated Yale, and held a decisive 37-19 margin in shots. Troy Davenport made 17 saves in the victory.
“Cornell is a good team,” Allain said. “They are big, strong and fast. They do it right.”