The P.A. announcer, Arthur Mintz ’71, had scarcely finished uttering the name of Maine scorer Mike Mantenuto late in the third period when Cornell senior forward Dan Svoboda made his job a little harder by punching in an immediate response on the other side of the rink, allowing the Red (2-2-2, 2-1-1 ECAC) to battle to a hard-earned 1-1 draw against the 11th-ranked Black Bears (4-3-3, 2-1-1 Hockey East) last night at Lynah Rink.
Mantenuto one-timed a backhand pass from Chris Heisten past junior goaltender Matt Underhill at 10:50 of the third period, breaking a scoreless tie that the Bears had threatened all night.
But on the ensuing face-off, Maine’s man between the pipes, Mike Morrison, misplayed a long dump-in that smashed of the boards just to the right of his net. Instead of bouncing to where Morrison positioned himself, the puck sprung off the zamboni door landing squarely at the feet Red forward Krzysztopf Wieckowski, who swiftly fed it to Svoboda for an uncontested empty-net goal.
“It was kind of a lucky goal, but it resulted from our hard work down low,” Svoboda wasn’t shy to admit. “The whole team worked hard on the forecheck and down low on the cycle. And I just happened to be the guy who got rewarded for it.”
“I think that’s one of the biggest tell-tale signs of the kind of character your team has, is how you respond once you get scored on,” Underhill explained. “And it doesn’t get much better than that.”
Coming off a three-point weekend against Harvard and Brown, the Red appeared to have ratcheted up its game for the chance to knock off a top-ranked opponent. What it clearly lacked in speed, the Red made up for by sticking to its game-plan: a bruising game along the boards and efficient cycling in the offensive zone.
Though the Bears launched attack after attack on Underhill’s goal, the Cornell defense managed to smother the Maine forwards. While the Bears typically average nearly 40 shots a game, the Red held them to a meager 29 last night.
And as frantic a pace as the Bears tried to promote, the Red showed a patience and diligence in the execution of its offense that has been lacking especially on the power play. Though its lone tally came during 5-on-5, Cornell nonetheless created numerous chances on the man-advantage, and for the first time this season did an efficient job of pouncing on loose rebounds.
“Our guys played very well tonight and played the kind of hockey we’re capable of playing,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “We learned some good lessons as you do against good teams.
“We have to prove that we belong in the same category as the University of Maine,” he continued.
“I think it deserved to be a tie,” Maine head coach Shawn Walsh reflected, adding, “I don’t think we deserved to win. I don’t think they deserved to win.”
Though the Bears came out trying to create an offensive explosion, the Red matched their intensity step for step.
And Underhill — as he had against Union and Brown — was near flawless in goal, bailing out his defenseman when any of the speedy Bears slipped past them. In making 28 stops, he kept his GAA at a razor-thin .66.
“I’m very pleased with Matt. He played very solid,” Schafer commented.
Just as it had last year against Maine, the Red scored a controversial goal that never made it onto the stat sheet. At 8:26 of the second, a Cornell shot sailed above Morrison’s goal and bounced off the Lynah glass, only hit him in the back and trickle into the net. However, referee Alex Dell, claiming that he’d blown the whistle before the puck crossed the line, immediately waved off the goal.
“We scored a goal. The goal was in. It’s pretty hard to blow the whistle that quick,” said Schafer.
Even Walsh acknowledged that he thought the play would give Cornell the lead.
“That was a great chance,” he said. “I thought that was in. It had our goalie beat, but that’s the flukes of the game.”
“It’s two in a row we’ve tied them and scored more goals than them,” Underhill noted. “That’s okay. We played well afterwards. We didn’t let it get to us.”
Not only did the Red not let the disallowed goal not affect it, but it also seemed to feed off the added adversity, pouring out a noticeably more intense physical game thereafter, which happened to perfectly pay off with Svoboda’s goal.
Cornell will now compete in the Syracuse Invitational Tournament this weekend, taking on Clarkson in the first round on Saturday.
Archived article by Shiva Nagaraj