With every sport comes the inevitable plays that are deemed illegal and result in the dreaded penalty call. Hockey is no exception to this rule and penalty calls have always played an important role in the way the game is played. For the team that loses a man to the box after a penalty there is a special unit that gets sent out to make sure the opposing team does not capitalize on the opportunity: the penalty kill unit. When a member of the Red gets whistled at Lynah, all one has to do to find out if the penalty kill unit has been sent out is to listen for the following words: “Kill, Red, kill!”
This year’s penalty kill unit started things off with an outstanding performance against the University of New Hampshire, offering a bright spot on an otherwise dismal night. Over the course of the match with the Wildcats, the penalty kill unit found itself on the ice six times and only once did it buckle under the pressure, allowing U.N.H.’s Austin Block to get to the net and slip one past junior goalkeeper Mike Garman; only six times was U.N.H. even able to get a shot off while it was on the ice.
The following night, however, things did not work out quite the same for Cornell when it found itself short-handed against R.I.T.
“We [made] a mental mistake right off the bat on the penalty kill,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86, referring to the Tigers’ power-play goal at the halfway mark of the first period –– a goal that was scored on the tail end of R.I.T.’s power play and was the first man-up shot that the Tigers took during the game. Things only got worse for Cornell in the third period, when R.I.T.’s Adam Hartley put another one away on a Tigers power play, giving R.I.T. the go-ahead goal and the last one it would need to secure a victory over the then-No.15 Red.
Things picked up for the unit last weekend, even though it was a 5-on-3 goal that ultimately allowed St. Lawrence to down Cornell in Canton, N.Y. In that contest, the Red kept even with the Saints until the third period, when St. Lawrence’s Kyle Flanagan placed one past Garman just under the crossbar while Sean Collins and Dustin Mowrey were both serving time. However, that was the only shot allowed on the 5-on-3, and Garman was able to turn away the other seven St. Lawrence attempts while Cornell was down a man.
With the exception of the R.I.T. game, the Red’s penalty kill unit has looked promising this year and should continue to be so, allowing only four goals over the 27 penalty calls that have gone against Cornell (including a game against Clarkson, where the unit did not allow the Golden Knights to score a single power-play goal, while there were eight penalties called on the Red during the game).
“We’ve always been a really strong defensive team,” said senior defenseman Mike Devin, “especially [when it comes to the] penalty kill.”
Original Author: Zach Waller