November 4, 2012

M. HOCKEY | Red Brawls With Raiders at Lynah

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Fans were treated to quite a show Saturday night in Lynah Rink, as the rivalry between Cornell and neighboring Colgate fully manifested on the ice. The final whistle blew for the game; however, the competition between the two New York schools was far from over as a brawl broke out and the benches cleared as each player hoped to get in on a piece of the action.

“You had a lot of pushing and shoving at the end,” Schafer said. “Something happened in the handshake line, and that was my fault, but as a coach you stay out of the handshake line for a reason. … It’s never a good thing when coaches are in the middle of things.”

Despite the rough ending and being outshot by a combined 70-41 against Colgate during an intense weekend doubleheader, the Red came away with three points in the ECAC standings. Cornell defeated the Raiders, 3-1, on Friday night on their home ice in Hamilton, N.Y., before returning to Ithaca to play the second game in the home-home series, which resulted in a 2-2 overtime tie on Saturday night at Lynah Rink.

No love was lost between the physical Red (3-0-1, 1-0-1 ECAC) and the speedy Raiders (4-4-1, 0-1-1), who battled through the end of Saturday’s overtime climax.

“We wanted to get after them,” said sophomore forward John McCarron. “[Friday] we were a little hesitant — we didn’t realize how fast they’d be coming for us. This time we were ready for it, and we wanted to get into them. They’re a smaller team. They’re fast, so we wanted to play the body a little more there.”

No. 5 Cornell capitalized on its opportunities Friday, with junior forward Dustin Mowrey scoring in the game’s opening minute. Senior forward Greg Miller and sophomore forward Joel Lowry followed up with two more goals in the later periods to give the Red a 3-1 advantage.

The story of the of the weekend, however, was junior goaltender Andy Iles, who saved 44 shots on Friday and made several saves on breakaways in Saturday night’s game.

“He was our MVP for this weekend,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “[Iles] gives you confidence that you know that you can press.”

Iles’ standout efforts in net could be felt across the ice and on the Red bench, as his performance gave his teammates the encouragement to play with a sense of fearlessness and without hesitation, according to McCarron.

“[Having Iles in net is] a huge confidence boost,” he said. “Hockey is a game of mistakes. When we make that mistake, he’s there to back us up every time. It’s that confidence … to make plays on the forward and not be hesitant and be scared that [the opponent] could go down and get one right away. I love him back there. It’s huge.”

The crowd of fans in Lynah repeatedly chanted Iles’ name on Saturday night, even as Colgate put the Red in a two-goal deficit in the first period.

“[Colgate] just had a point shot, it hit someone and it went right through my legs,” Iles said. “They put a lot of pressure on us early, we got ourselves in a little bit of trouble. We put ourselves in a hole and we had to dig ourselves out of it.”

After a slow start, the Red roared back in the third period with goals from sophomore forward Cole Bardreau and senior defenseman Nick D’Agostino with fewer than 10 minutes remaining. Unable to convert several close scoring opportunities in overtime, the game ended in a 2-2 draw — with both sides throwing a few punches in a bench-clearing brawl after the final whistle.

It was a hard-fought comeback for the Red, who is now third in the ECAC standings, after battling the Raiders and the refs en route to staving off a Colgate victory.

“I don’t know where the penalties came from,” Schafer said. “Our guys got distracted by the officiating in the first period, and I think that distracted us in general. But after the first we got going, and I think we had a ton of chances in the second period. Their [goalie] played really, really well.

However, while the Red did not achieve the result that it had hoped for, there were a few positives to be taken away from the team’s overall performance on the ice, according to the head coach.

“[Iles] made a couple huge saves on breakaways to keep us in it, and then we just kept plugging away in the third,” Schafer said. “We had some glorious chances even in overtime — three-on-two right at the very end. … I’m really proud of the fact that last year, when we got down two-nothing and it was in January, I don’t think we would have had a shot for the third period, and I thought this year we played much better.”

Iles echoed Schafer’s assessments of the team’s performance over the weekend..

“You’re never going to play a perfect hockey game,” Iles said. “As a goalie you just have to try to turn those away and give your team a chance … Whether it’s breakaways or whether it’s shots from outside, you take it one shot at a time and try to turn it away.”

The Red looks to use the weekend series with Colgate as a learning experience and a building block for future weeks, according to McCarron.

“I think it was a huge learning step for us,” he said. “We’re not going to quit. We’re down 2-0 going into the third. We all believe in the locker room, we come out flying there. [We] capitalize halfway through the period — we know we’re coming back … That’s huge for us, to have the confidence to just come out and dominate a period whenever we want.”

Original Author: Chris Mills

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