POTSDAM, N.Y. – For just the second time in his illustrious career, junior goaltender David McKee was pulled from a game.
In what ended up a 3-1 loss for the No. 3 men’s hockey team on Friday night at Clarkson’s Cheel Arena, head coach Mike Schafer ’86 decided to sit the Irving, Tex., native after one period because he had lingering flu-like symptoms after battling the virus for most of the week.
Senior Louis Chabot replaced McKee in the Cornell net for the final 40 minutes of the game, allowing just one goal.
Yet, the night belonged to the opposing goalie, Clarkson sophomore David Leggio, who made 23 saves, and was just 6:18 away from recording his first career shutout.
“Any time you play Cornell it’s special,” Leggio said. “I thought both teams played very well. We laid it on the line tonight, and it’s just great to come out with a win.”
The win was the Golden Knights’ first regular season win over the Red since the 2000-01 season, and gave Clarkson (14-13-3, 7-9-2 ECACHL) two crucial points, as the team moved into eighth place in the conference – which is the last seed in the conference to host a first-round playoff series. It also improved the Golden Knights’ home record to 10-2-2 on the season.
“We’ve been awfully good in this building, and that helps our confidence,” said Clarkson head coach George Roll. “That’s even more reason why we’ve got to try to get one of those top-8 spots.”
One might think that the loss for the Red (16-5-4, 11-4-3) was a little easier to swallow knowing that Colgate’s loss to St. Lawrence allowed the team to keep its first-place standing going into Saturday night’s game against the Saints. This, however, was not the case, as the team went 0-for-6 on its power-play chances on the evening.
“[The game] was a pretty weak effort,” said senior assistant captain Jon Gleed. “We really didn’t come ready to match their intensity. They seemed to be more ready to play than we did.”
As Gleed noted, Clarkson came out strong right from the get-go, as the squad opened the scoring on Friday night just under four minutes into the contest, when freshman defender Tyrell Mason netted his first career goal on his classmate Shea Guthrie’s 16th assist of the season. On the play, Mason corralled a rebound and slid the puck just inside the left post past McKee.
“I just threw the puck on net and was fortunate enough to go in,” Mason said. “The goalie didn’t see it, I’m sure, because it wasn’t that hard of a shot. It feels great, against Cornell especially.”
The Golden Knights capitalized on another solid scoring chance just under 10 minutes later on a power play, when Guthrie skated down McKee’s left side, sidestepped freshman defender Jared Seminoff, and ripped a shot from the right circle that rang off the post. Despite the miss, Clarkson senior assistant captain Jeff Genovy, who was trailing the play, was able to knock the rebound into a wide-open net. The score came while sophomore Raymond Sawada was serving an obstruction-interference infraction.
The goal, which was assisted by Guthrie and defender Michael Grenzy, was Genovy’s eighth of the season and proved to be the game-winner.
The lead was almost extended to three about nine minutes into the second period, when senior captain Matt Moulson’s attempted pass to the point was picked off by Clarkson center Steve Zalewski, who skated down against junior defender Evan Salmela, and wristed a shot in the direction of Chabot. But the goaltender was up to task, recording a slick glove save – one of his career-high 14 stops on the evening.
Throughout the second period, Leggio stole the show, making numerous highlight-reel saves to keep the Red off the scoreboard.
Leggio and the Golden Knights, however, lucked out on Cornell’s next scoring chance, as junior Ryan O’Byrne, who was playing in his first contest after a two-game absence due to injury, rang a shot off the post from the just inside the center of the blue line.
Yet, the nail in Cornell’s coffin came when Clarkson netted its third goal of the game, a wrister from the right faceoff circle that came off the stick of assistant captain Nick Dodge and flew past Chabot’s right shoulder for his 15th goal of the season on an assist from David Cayer.
According to Mason, this stretch of play typified the game.
“The bounces were going our way tonight,” he said. “They [hit] a few posts out there tonight. It could have been a whole different game.”
While the Red got on the board with junior Byron Bitz’s fifth tally of the season on an assist from Moulson with 6:18 left in the game, the squad had plenty of chances late in the game to draw closer.
At the 7:19 mark in the third, an apparent goal by Moulson was waved off because a Cornell player was in the crease, and then, with just 1:25 left in the game another Moulson shot rang off the post.
Despite the end of the game, Roll believed that the contest was one of his team’s most solid outings thus far this season.
“I thought for 60 minutes, even though they hemmed us in in the third, we competed for every loose puck and didn’t take any shifts off,” he said. “That’s playoff hockey, what you saw tonight. It was a solid 60 minutes for us.”
Archived article by Chris Mascaro
Sun Sports Editor