January 24, 2005

Red capitalizes on special teams, stays perfect at home

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Heading into Friday night’s game against Dartmouth, the No. 8/9 men’s hockey team had made its bread and butter on the performance of its special teams. With a penalty kill ranked third in the nation (89 percent), the Red (12-4-2, 8-2-1 ECACHL) has also been highly effective on the power play, particularly in recent weeks.

With special teams playing such a pivotal role in the Red’s success, it is little wonder that it was again the power play that shone in the team’s 3-1 victory over the Green (8-8-2, 5-6-0 ECACHL).

Cornell drew first blood at 12:55 in the first period, capitalizing almost immediately on its first power play opportunity of the evening. With the Green’s Tanner Glass serving a tripping minor, freshman defenseman Sasha Pokulok capitalized on a scrum in front of the Dartmouth goal. As he and sophomore forward Bryon Bitz crashed the net on a loose puck in front of the crease, Pokulok was able to capitalize, elevating the puck above Dartmouth goalie Sean Samuel’s leg on the right side.

“The coaches have been telling me that when the puck moves down below, I just have to crash the net, I’m a big guy so I have to be a presence there,” Pokulok said. “Bitzy took a few whacks at it, and I saw it lying there, so I took a few whacks at it and it went in.”

Freshman Topher Scott also assisted on the goal.

Cornell scored again in the early seconds of a power play less than two minutes later. With Chris Snizek in the box, junior assistant captain Matt Moulson received a pass from Scott at the left faceoff circle. He fired a laser, going top shelf on Samuel’s glove side. The Red’s second power play goal of the game came at 14:46 of the period, with senior assistant captain Charlie Cook also assisting on the play.

Meanwhile, the Red penalty kill maintained its customary level of efficiency, killing off each of the Green’s first three power play chances.

Cornell extended its lead to 3-0 at 10:33 in the second period, when a puck shot by freshman Doug Krantz deflected off Samuel’s stick and into the net as he fell down in the crease. The goal resulted in Samuel being replaced by Dan Yacey, who shut the Red down for the remaining 27:53.

“It was a good game, I thought we played well and I thought they did too,” said Dartmouth head coach Bob Gaudet. “They capitalized on those first two power plays, and that was the game. A 3-0 lead is a pretty big lead in hockey. We worked hard, but when you spot them that lead, it’s difficult.”

Cornell’s dominating power play lost some of its bite in the third period, when Dartmouth was able to kill off a five-minute major spearing penalty, which Jarrett Sampson committed at 3:09 in the period.

“The biggest thing that the special teams did in the first period that they didn’t do in the third period was they didn’t hold on to it and they caught Dartmouth in some rotations,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “In the third period, when we had that five minute major [on the power play], we did the exact opposite. Each guy took a turn holding on to it, which allowed guys to rotate and get back in position.”

With the win, the Red leapfrogged No. 14 Vermont and into sole possession of second place in the ECACHL, one point behind travel-partner Colgate.

Archived article by Owen Bochner
Sun Sports Editor