January 26, 2009

M. Hockey Suffers First League Loss to Bulldogs

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Cornell witnessed its 10-game unbeaten steak come to an unexpected end Friday night, thanks to a feisty Yale team that handed the Red its first home loss since March 18. The Bulldogs’ 4-3 victory marked the team’s first win at Lynah Rink since 1999 and improved the Bulldogs to 5-1 against ranked competition this season.
Cornell’s (14-2-3, 9-1-2 ECAC Hockey) inability to convert on three successive power plays to start the game was a harbinger of things to come according to Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86.
“It foreshadowed the evening for us tonight as far as lack of execution, lack of patience…lack of attention to detail and them outworking us on the penalty kill and outworking our power play guys,” Schafer said. “Give credit to Yale, I thought they played a very good hockey game. Their work ethic and execution was much better than we were from our standpoint. They outworked us and out-executed us for the majority of the night.”
Yale (13-5-1, 8-3-1 ECAC Hockey) wasted little time gaining an early advantage, capitalizing on its only extra man advantage of the first period. Sophomore left wing Jeff Anderson registered his third goal of the season at 16:52 with one tick remaining on the power play. Junior netminder Ben Scrivens dove to his left to deny Anderson’s initial shot, but was unable to glove the puck as Anderson deposited the rebound into the top right corner of the net.
The No. 3-ranked Red responded at the 1:30 mark of the second stanza as senior co-alternate captain Jared Seminoff tied the contest at 1-1 with a shot from the right point. Junior co-captain Colin Greening and senior right wing Evan Barlow were each credited with an assist.
Yale, which never trailed en route to its victory, captured its second lead of the contest less than three minutes later. Junior forward Tom Dignard took advantage of miscommunication in front of the Cornell net and deposited the loose puck into the back of the goal with 15:45 remaining in the second period.
Cornell answered as sophomore center Riley Nash lit the lamp for the eighth time this season, knotting the game at 2-2 with 11:15 remaining in the second stanza. Nash, the 21st overall pick in the 2007 NHL draft, made it three consecutive games with a goal. The goal, Cornell’s only conversion on eight power play opportunities, was recorded as Nash lifted the puck over sophomore goaltender Ryan Rondeau’s stick. Greening and Barlow each contributed their second helpers of the game. Barlow paces the Red with 12 assists.
“I think [Yale] came very well prepared,” Greening said. “They were on top of us from the get go and they never let up. We’ve been facing teams where we’ve been able to ride above it, but we weren’t able to tonight. Maybe guys’ heads weren’t in it. I don’t know. We were able to bounce back and make it 2-2, but we weren’t able to hold it, and that was really the key. When you have to play a team that was prepared like they were, you’re not going to win games unless you keep the momentum.”
Any potential momentum resulting from the Nash goal quickly evaporated as Yale’s sophomore center Brendan Mason went racing down the ice for a breakaway unassisted goal at the 13:38 mark of the second period. Mason staked the Bulldogs to a 3-2 advantage as he slipped a backhanded shot past Scrivens’ stick and into the top left shelf.
“We [didn’t] stick together, especially when things [weren’t] going well in the course of the game,” Schafer said. “It was the first time this year that we really didn’t stick together as a group. There were a lot of individual efforts. … Our guys clearly understand if you don’t bring it, the league is a real good league. We didn’t bring it tonight and they took it to us.”
The Bulldogs were on the prowl again as junior center Mark Arcobello scored the team’s third 4-on-4 goal of the evening with 10:49 remaining in regulation to give Yale a 4-2 cushion. The four goals surrendered by Cornell represents the second largest by an opponent this season. Yale tops the conference in scoring offense with 3.58 goals per game.
Cornell pulled Scrivens with 3:02 remaining in favor of an extra skater, but was unable to overcome the two-goal deficit. Junior defenseman Brendon Nash’s first goal of the campaign with 20.1 ticks remaining cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 4-3. However, the comeback fell short as time expired, dashing the Red’s dream of an undefeated season at home.
“Generally, by how the game is being played these days, you win or lose by your special teams on most nights,” said senior co-captain Michael Kennedy. “Definitely, if we were to get one early against them, it probably would have changed how the game went. It would have been a different game, those are the breaks sometimes and we still had our chances throughout the game to get something going and get momentum back, but we were unable to.”
Cornell managed only one goal and five shots on eight power plays throughout the night. Greening indicated that failed opportunities on the team’s early power plays proved costly on this evening.
“I think if you get good chances on the power play and you can feel the goal coming, I think that really helps you,” Greening said. “When you’re on the power play and nothing is clicking, they’re constantly dumping it down, and you can’t get set up, it’s really hard to gain momentum. It’s [also] really hard for the fans when they’re looking at that to get excited. When you’re on the bench and you see there are lots of chances and there’s excitement from the crowd, that’s when you can build momentum on it, but for the first three power plays that wasn’t really happening.”
The Bulldogs nearly doubled the Red’s shots on goal, 36-20. Although Scrivens permitted four goals, his dexterity between the pipes and 32 saves helped to keep the score much closer than it might have been otherwise. Rondeau deflected 17 shots as he notched his fourth victory of the season.
The Red entered the contest ranked first nationally in scoring defense with 1.29 goals allowed per game. Friday evening’s uncharacteristic defensive shortcomings resulted in the Red surrendering more than two goals for only the second time in 19 games this season.