January 26, 2004

No. 12 M. Hockey Beats Cats, Falls to Green

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No coach, no problem. Playing a game without head coach Mike Schafer ’86 for the first time in his nine-year tenure at Cornell, the No. 12 men’s hockey team returned to basics and had little trouble with Vermont Friday night, dispatching the Catamounts, 2-0.

With assistant coaches Brent Brekke and Scott Garrow assuming Schafer’s in-game responsibilities, the Red played a strong fundamental and defensive game to coast to the easy win.

“It’s a little different. Some new responsibilities on my end; Brent’s job stayed pretty much the same working with the defense,” said Garrow, who took over the management of the lines. “We talked all week about how Mike likes to run the game and what he tries to do as far as matchups and stuff like that.”

On the ice, the difference was almost imperceptible. Controlling the game throughout, the Red got all the offense it would need in the opening period. Sophomore forward Matt Moulson got the scoring going with perfect positioning 13 minutes into the game. Standing at the left circle, Moulson received a cross-ice pass from junior defenseman Charlie Cook and fired it past Vermont goaltender Matt Hanson. Junior Mike Knoepfli also assisted on the play.

Cornell added to the lead at 16:24 of the period, when freshman forward Byron Bitz stole the puck from Vermont in transition, brought it back into the offensive zone and found senior captain Ryan Vesce on the left side. From almost the exact spot that Moulson scored his goal three minutes earlier, Vesce went top shelf over Hanson’s left shoulder.

“I’ve been struggling to get some goals as of late, it was a nice feed from Bitzy. It was great,” said Vesce.

Early in the third period, the Red had an opportunity to extend its lead on one of hockey’s most exciting plays. At 12:10 in the period, Cook took the puck at center ice after leaving the penalty box and went on a breakaway towards the Vermont net. Before he was able to get a shot off, though, he was tripped from behind by the Catamounts’ Jaime Sifers and sent barreling into the goal.

Cook was awarded a penalty shot on the play, bringing a frenzied Lynah crowd to its feet. The junior skated in, faked left, then tried to elevate the puck over Hanson’s stick, but the Vermont goalie was able to bat it away from his prone position.

“He had him beat. We have Showdown every Thursday and Charlie scores a lot on that move,” said Garrow. “He had the goalie beat, he raised it, which we try to teach him to do — to get it upstairs, and the kid reached back with the paddle of the stick and knocked it down.”

“I don’t know how the shot didn’t go in,” Cook remarked. “I guess I’d rather have him bat it out of the air than on the ice.”

Freshman goalie David McKee recorded his fourth career shutout, making 17 saves on the evening. Much of his success was attributable to a strong team effort on defense, a return to the team’s customary style of play.

“We haven’t scored a lot of goals lately, so it was nice to get that early two-goal lead and play the way we wanted to play,” said Garrow. “And we had talked about that, whether we got the goals or not there was a certain kind of play that we wanted to get back to that had been identified as Cornell hockey.”

Archived article by Owen Bochner