December 1, 2003

No. 13 M. Icers Lose Late Lead, Tie Mercyhurst

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With a little over a minute left and with the men’s hockey team clinging to a precarious 3-2 lead, a smattering of fans in the students’ section began the Lynah tradition of jiggling their keys, feeling that the game was well in hand. Unfortunately for the Lynah Faithful, the players on opposing Mercyhurst disagreed. The Lakers’ Scott Reynolds tallied the equalizer with just 5.5 seconds showing on the scoreboard, sending the game to overtime and an eventual 3-3 tie.

For the second time in two weeks, Cornell (3-2-4, 3-0-1 ECAC) allowed a goal in the game’s closing minute. Last weekend against Ohio State, the Buckeyes’ Dave Steckel scored with 53 ticks remaining to give his team a 4-3 win. On Saturday, it was Reynolds who victimized the Red, banging home a rebound past Cornell freshman goaltender David McKee.

“It’s tough. We’ve done that the last couple of games at home. We’ve dominated teams and end up tying or losing the game in the last minute,” freshman forward Byron Bitz said. “It’s tough on us mentally but we’ve got to bounce back and learn how to close games off.”

“Our guys have got to make the plays,” Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86 said. “Our guys had a chance to get the puck out and we didn’t.”

Just moments before Reynolds’ goal, Cornell appeared to have cleared the puck and secured the win. However, one of the linesmen called the Red for icing although the puck appeared to have deflected off a Mercyhurst stick, bringing the faceoff back into the Cornell end of the ice.

“I didn’t think the puck should’ve been there in the first place. I thought it was a bad call by the linesman. The puck should’ve never been an icing call,” Schafer said. “You just can’t have that happen, especially in a non-conference game at our own rink. You can’t miss calls like that. Those calls are calls that can’t be missed. And then you turn around in overtime and they dump it in, and he waives the call off on the icing. I just don’t know where our officiating is coming from in our own league.

“It’s just inexcusable for them to miss that type of call tonight,” Schafer continued.

For much of the evening, Cornell dominated the action, peppering Mercyhurst’s Andy Franck with 47 shots on net. By comparison, McKee faced just 20.

The Red opened the game firing, outshooting the Lakers 13-5 in the first period. Yet, it wasn’t until the second period that Cornell found the back of the net, when sophomore defenseman Jon Gleed scored his first collegiate goal to give the Red a 1-0 advantage at 1:22. On the play, Franck turned aside attempts from sophomore Matt Moulson and senior co-captain Ryan Vesce. However, the rebound trickled to the slot, where Gleed fought off a defender, wheeled, and fired the puck past Franck’s outstretched left skate.

“I thought Jon Gleed played one of his best games in this uniform,” Schafer said of his defenseman, who also hit a crossbar and had several other scoring chances. “Jon’s been getting more and more confidence. The more confidence he gets, he’s just playing the game instead of thinking about it.”

Mercyhurst would answer before the second intermission, however, tying the game at 1-1 with a power play goal at 17:02 of the second period. After working the puck behind the Cornell net, Adam Tackaberry fired a cross-ice pass to Rich Hansen at the left point. Hansen skated to the left faceoff dot before firing a wrister, which deflected off of T.J. Kemp and into the Cornell goal.

The break between periods didn’t slow down the Lakers, however, as Mercyhurst took its first lead of the game when Peter Rynshoven scored just 1:49 into the third period.

Bitz knotted the score just five minutes later, though. As it did all game long, the line of Vesce, Moulson, and Bitz cycled the puck effectively. After gaining possession of the puck along the boards, Bitz skated to just outside the crease before flipping a backhand, which eluded Franck.

“I just walked out of the corner, threw a backhand, didn’t even look, and I guess it just went through his five-hole,” Bitz said. “I was pretty lucky.”

The score would remain tied until sophomore forward Cam Abbott squeezed the puck between Franck’s pads to give the Red a 3-2 lead with 7:43 remaining. The goal was Abbott’s fourth of the year, and assists were awarded to seniors Greg Hornby and Ben Wallace.

“I just came out looking to get it on net. The goaltender was cheating a little bit, I squeezed it between his pads, and it trickled over the line,” Abbott described of his goal.

Unfortunately for Cornell, the lead wouldn’t stand, with the Red settling for a 3-3 draw.

“I think we dominated the team five-on-five. I think we can play teams five-on-five against any team in the country, but we’ve got to be able to put them away,” Abbott said.

The tie was the latest in a line of disappointing results for the Red at home, where it is still winless after five games. Last season, Cornell finished its home slate with a perfect 15-0-0 record.

“Obviously coming into Lynah Rink, if you asked me if we’d be 0-2-3 in our own rink, I’d have thought you were crazy. At the same time, if we don’t capitalize on our scoring chances, it doesn’t matter where we’re playing, it’s going to be a long night,” Schafer said. “When you get 47 shots and you can only put three goals in, we’ve got to do one of two things. We’ve either got to really concentrate on stop giving any chances at all, or start to capitalize. I think it’s got to be a combination of both going into next weekend.”

For the most part, the Red has been physically superior to any of its opponents thus far. However, mistakes at inopportune times have led to the team’s slow start.

“Mental errors are costing us right now, big time,” Bitz said.

“It’s really frustrating. The frustration continues to build. We’re disappointed with the fact that every mistake that seems to happen, the puck ends up in the back of our net. It’s tough to have the puck a lot, get a lot of scoring chances, and miss the net a lot and not capitalize. And then make a mistake, it’s in the back of your net,” Schafer said. “There’s no question in anybody’s mind that this hockey team is a frustrated one right now.”

Archived article by Alex Ip