POTSDAM, N.Y. — Prior to the opening faceoff of Friday’s Cornell-Clarkson showdown at Cheel Arena, the blaring foghorn in the students’ section sounded to the excitement of the home crowd. Apparently, it wasn’t loud enough to wake the No. 11 Red (2-1-2, 2-0-1 ECAC), as the icers struggled for the first 30 minutes before salvaging a 2-2 tie against the Golden Knights (4-2-3, 1-1-1).
After nearly half a period of sloppy play from both sides, it was Clarkson’s Tristan Lush who dealt the first blow, scoring at 9:53 of the first to give the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead. On the strength of a strong forecheck that bothered the Red all evening, the Golden Knights’ Jean Desrochers and Max Kolu worked the puck to Lush. Lusch then skated to just above the left faceoff circle, wheeled, and fired a wrister through the pads of freshman goalie David McKee for an early 1-0 lead.
Despite animated instructions from Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86 during television timeouts, the Red remained lethargic throughout the period, allowing Clarkson to carry the action. The Golden Knights outshot Cornell, 8-7, during the period, but of those eight shots, most were from point-blank range, while the majority of the Red’s seven were taken from the perimeter.
“We just didn’t come 100 percent ready to play tonight,” senior forward Greg Hornby said. “We didn’t get after them right away like we usually like to do.”
“We weren’t mentally prepared for the game. We weren’t into it from the start and we can’t have that opening again,” sophomore forward Cam Abbott reiterated. “It’s getting yourself into a hole, and it’s just not what we’re about.”
In hopes of infusing some life into his team, Schafer turned to his line of Hornby and the Abbott twins — Cam and Chris. They didn’t disappoint, as Cam Abbott notched the equalizer at 8:44 of the second period. After losing the puck to Clarkson freshman defender Michael Grenzy along the boards, Hornby re-stole the puck between the circles before floating a pass to junior defenseman Charlie Cook at the right point. Cook then sent a wrister towards the goal, which was redirected into the back of the net by Cam Abbott.
“It was just Greg Hornby really working hard down low, fed Charlie Cook, and I just stood in front for a screen, and got my stick on it,” Abbott described.
The Red rode the momentum, generating a couple of good scoring opportunities over the next several minutes. Once again, however, it was the Knights who came up golden, recapturing the lead, 2-1, on John Sullivan’s goal at 11:33 of the second period. As was the case on Clarkson’s first goal of the evening, Cornell’s failure to clear its defensive end led to the tally. After cycling the zone, Clarkson’s Lyon Porter slid a shot towards the Cornell net that ricocheted off a defenseman’s skate. While McKee was able to get a pad on the initial shot, he failed to cover the rebound, allowing Sullivan to skate in and ram it home.
Trailing 2-1, Schafer began to shuffle his lines, mixing and matching his forwards in an attempt to spark his offense, which had scored 13 goals the weekend prior against Yale and Princeton.
“It was a necessity to find nine or 10 guys that wanted to actually work hard consistently,” Schafer said. “That’s what happens on a given night. When you don’t have four lines that are willing to go and someone’s luggage is on the line, you’ve got to shuffle things up in order for people to produce.”
However, it was Schafer’s reliable energy line of Hornby and the Abbotts which delivered once again, this time at 8:04 of the third period. Once again, the Red victimized Clarkson defender Grenzy, who turned the puck over to Chris Abbott at his own blue line. Chris quickly fed the puck to brother Cam, who one-timed a knuckler towards Clarkson goalie Dustin Traylen. Traylen stopped the initial shot, but could not control the rebound, allowing Hornby to swoop in and bury the puck in the open net.
“Cam threw the puck to the net, a big rebound came out, and I was lucky to put it into the open net,” Hornby said.
Cornell had several chances during the remainder of regulation and in the overtime session. However, Traylen came up big each time, robbing sophomore Matt Moulson and senior captain Ryan Vesce of potential gamewinners on several occasions.
The story of the game, though, wasn’t the goaltending battle, which saw McKee make 26 saves, and Traylen with 28 stops. It wasn’t even Clarkson’s physical defense, which held a Cornell team which had averaged five goals per game to just two. The decisive factor in Friday’s 2-2 outcome was the Red’s sluggish start.
“Awful,” Schafer said of his team’s slow start. “There was no sluggish to it — we slept walk. I can’t be any more disappointed in a Cornell hockey team than I have in quite some time.
“We prepare the same way every week,” he continued. “There are 29 games during the course of the year, and they come out and they weren’t ready to lay it out on the line tonight.”
Despite one of its poorer performances in recent memories, Cornell did show resiliency, coming back from two deficits to eke out a tie.
“I liked the fact that they somehow managed to scrape out a point on the road,” Schafer said. “[But] when you don’t have the work ethic, it doesn’t matter what else happens. If you don’t come out ready to lay it out on the line, it doesn’t make a difference what anybody else does. It’s not acceptable.”
Archived article by Alex Ip