SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — After outshooting opponents 42-11 in the first nine games of the season, the men’s hockey team had a nailbiting Winter Break, having its last five games decided by one goal. However, old habits were on display in Friday night’s game against Union (7-11-3, 3-5-2) as Cornell dismantled the Skating Dutchmen 6-0 in Achilles Rink.
“We’ve been at each other’s throats in practice and it’s finally nice to play somebody else and take out our frustration on someone else. It was a really nice start to finish, to play well, and to play hard,” said senior forward Sam Paolini.
With two weeks off before this weekend, head coach Mike Schafer ’86 tried to create an atmosphere of a playoff game, as if the team had come off of a bye in the ECAC tournament. That strategy worked for Cornell which outmuscled and outhustled Union for all 60 minutes of the meeting.
“It was a good game for us and we played very very well tonight. I thought that right from the start we were very hungry for loose pucks. I thought our guys had a lot of jump,” Schafer said. “They were ready to play hockey and I thought that was a good advantage for us.”
Throughout the game attendents at Achilles Rink were tending to the ice surface, but the poor conditions didn’t slow down the Red which fought and won most of the loose puck battles all night long.
“The ice was definitely a little choppy out there. The puck was bouncing around a lot, but that’s when you definitely have to bear down even more and make clean, hard passes,” sa.srcophomore goalie David LeNeveu.
Junior Ryan Vesce notched his ninth and 10th goals of the year and added an assist to lead the Red (13-3-0, 8-1-0 ECAC), but freshman Cam Abbott’s goal 1:59 into the first period was the gamewinner, putting a rebound from sophomore Jeremy Downs’s shot past Tim Roth. Junior Greg Hornby, who was coming back from injury, was credited with an assist.
Freshman Matt Moulson lit the lamp less than two minutes later off a pass from Vesce. Senior Shane Palahicky closed out the scoring in the period at 11:34. All three goals were from right outside the crease.
Cornell continued that pace into the second period, scoring another three goals. Vesce’s first was two seconds short of being a shorthanded goal at 1:06 into the second. His next, at 12:29, came on the power play. Vesce, skating toward the left post attempted to bring the puck to his forehand but slipped. The misstep played to his advantage as Roth anticipated Vesce’s deke and let the puck slide behind him.
The Red’s final goal might have been the prettiest of the night when Paolini picked the near corner on a wrister. It was his first even strength goal of the season.
“Finally I scored a goal. It’s been a while and I’ve been waiting for it to come and I’ve been working hard and things haven’t been going my way. Sometimes things go in and sometimes they don’t, but finally one went in for me,” he said.
Roth was pulled in the third after letting in six goals on 27 shots. Kris Mayotte saved all eight shots he faced in the final 20 minutes.
Also, starting in his first game since Dec. 7 was LeNeveu, back from the Canadian World Junior Hockey team.
“It’s nice to be back, the guys played great tonight, and it’s nice getting a shutout the first game back and I hope to carry us out throughout the remainder of the season,” LeNeveu said.
Although he only faced 17 shots, and wasn’t tested often, LeNeveu got his nation-leading fourth shoutout and lowered his goals against average to 1.08.
“Dave did a great job, he didn’t face many quality chances, when he did he was ready to go,” Schafer said.
Freshman center Chris Abbott got injured in the third and was pulled from the lineup as a precaution according to Schafer.
Cornell was pleased with the lopsided win, but the real victory was putting together a solid effort.
“Guys got excited to play again,” Vesce said. “They got their legs going and were real hungry to get loose pucks tonight, and it paid off tonight.”
Archived article by Amanda Angel