After a convincing 6-1 win on Friday that produced some bad blood between the Cornell (2-0, 0-0 ECAC) and Alabama-Huntsville (5-3, 2-0 CHA) men’s hockey teams, the squads were back at it Saturday night for the second half of a two-game series. Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86 decided to shuffle his line-up a bit, and the decision proved well founded as senior Krzyzstof Wieckowski notched a pair of goals and sophomore Scott Krahn and scored the game-winner in a 5-2 victory.
It took time for play to pick up where it left off the night before, as both teams started off to a slow start. However it was Alabama-Huntsville that got on the board first with the lone goal in the first period.
Senior Matt Underhill, starting in net for the first time this season, was unable to control a rebound 6:50 into the game, and a scramble ensued. Chargers right winger Karlis Zirnis found the puck and snuck it into the left goal post. “On the first goal, I fought the puck a little bit, it got loose and they put it in,” Underhill recounted.
The goal gave Alabama-Huntsville its first and only lead of the weekend. Although Cornell had 14 shots on goal as opposed to the Chargers’ five in the first, the Red was unable to capitalize even after consecutive power plays midway through the period.
“We weren’t as sharp as obviously we wanted to be,” Schafer said. “We just needed to pick it up a little bit, and the guys did that in the second period.” As was the case Friday night, Cornell found its scoring touch after the first intermission, as both teams resumed playing a physical, bruising style of hockey.
Wieckowski got the Red on the board four minutes in, successfully deflecting a rebound from junior Mark McRae’s shot from left of the crease.
Two minutes later, Alabama-Huntsville gave Cornell another opportunity when Gerald Overton was assessed a hooking penalty. Wieckowski found himself just left of the net on the ensuing power play — the same vicinity where he was earlier — and tipped freshman defenseman Charlie Cook’s pass by goaltender Mark Byrne to take the lead.
“Two defensemen got two shots on net, and I just got lucky and tipped the ball,” Weickowski said, undoubtedly pleased to contribute during his first appearance of the regular season.
Krahn rounded out the Cornell scoring in the second period. Senior Brian McMeekin fired a shot from high in the zone that went wide left the goal, but glanced off the boards directly to Krahn, who sent it past Byrne to give the Red a 3-1 advantage.
Wieckowski credited the unlikely hero: “Some guys really stepped up tonight, like Scott Krahn. He did really well — he has more moves than a U-Haul truck.”
The Red was unable to leave the ice for the second break with a comfortable two-goal lead, though. The defense had done a formidable job shutting down the Chargers’ attack, giving up only 12 shots on goal, until a rookie error from Jeremy Downs left Tyler Butler open in the high slot. Enjoying the open ice due to coincidental penalties to UAB’s Joel Bresciani (roughing) and Cornell’s senior David Francis (holding), Butler sent a slapshot straight through Underhill’s legs with one second left in the period.
“[In] the last minute all you want to do is get it out, get it in. That’s learning experience, it’s not going to happen again, that’s for sure. Lucky it didn’t end up hurting us,” Underhill confessed.
The score put wind in Alabama’s sails, but it was not enough to propel it through the final 20 minutes. The Chargers were assessed two penalties and the Cornell power play unit came through both times, 32 seconds and 11 minutes into the stanza. Murray notched the first goal, on a four-on-three with assists from Vesce and B