March 13, 2006

Cornell Sweeps Clarkson, Advances to Albany

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The third time proved to be the charm for the men’s hockey team on Friday night.

After seeing a pair of goals disallowed, sophomore Raymond Sawada notched his seventh goal of the season in the second overtime, lifting Cornell past Clarkson, 4-3, in Game 1 of the best-of-three ECACHL quarterfinal series.

On the game-winner, senior Chris Abbott won the draw in Clarkson’s left faceoff circle and an on-rushing Sawada snapped it top-shelf past netminder David Leggio.

“We had some great opportunities and had disallowed goals, but our guys did good job in responding to it,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “After the first overtime, they came back into the locker room and realized there was nothing they could do to control it and they just moved on. I thought we did a good job of getting ourselves opportunities.”

Cornell (19-7-4) could have had the game won during the first overtime session on two occasions. First, just 17 seconds into the interval, freshman Tyler Mugford crashed the net and appeared to get his shot past Leggio, but referee Dave Hansen ruled it off because the Cornell player hit the goaltender before the puck crossed the line.

Then, senior Matt Moulson ripped a shot from the point right at the buzzer which went in the net’s top left corner. However, Hansen waved it off again to the ire of Cornell fans and players, saying time had expired. Replays showed that Moulson’s shot crossed the line in time with 0.1 seconds remaining.

“I’d love to have instant replay,” Schafer said. “Right now, we don’t have that ability and hopefully in our league, especially for the playoffs, we do.”

Cornell took the lead at the 9:26 mark in the first period. After an unsuccessful Cornell power play, freshman Evan Barlow took a pass from classmate Michael Kennedy and went streaking down the right wing unopposed. His initial wrist shot from the right faceoff circle was saved by Clarkson goaltender, David Leggio, but he picked up the rebound and slotted it in for his second goal of the season.

Clarkson (18-16-3) would tie the game up just a minute into the second. Steve Zalewski took the puck along the right boards and took a shot that Cornell junior David McKee blocked. The rebound went to a streaking Shea Guthrie, who knocked it in from close range.

However, just 30 seconds later, Cornell regained its advantage. After receiving a pass from senior Daniel Pegoraro, junior Mark McCutcheon hit a slap shot through a swarm of players that went past Leggio.

“That next shift, whether you score or get scored against is such a big shift,” said Clarkson head coach George Roll. “[McCutcheon] had traffic in front, he threw one at the net from just inside the blue line. David never saw it, he was trying to get around their guy to find it.”

Less than six minutes later, Cornell would double its lead. After a scrum down low, the puck went out to junior defenseman Dan Glover, who had enough time to turn and rip a shot which found a hole between Leggio’s pads. It was Glover’s third goal of the year.

“The fact that anyone can score on any given night really helps our team,” Barlow said. “I think for the most part, when we can not look to Moulson or [junior Byron] Bitz every night, it really helps us not just to rely on our guns, but knowing that we can all contribute.”

Cornell controlled much of the second period, keeping the puck in the Golden Knights’ zone and having several good opportunities. With 2:35 left in the period, Leggio left his net to retrieve the puck, only to see it being taken away from him by junior Byron Bitz. Bitz tried to pass it to an incoming Moulson, but he was unable to get a clean shot on the empty net.

The Red looked to be in the driver’s seat heading into the third period with the lead, however, Clarkson clawed its way back into the game. With 9:26 remaining, Nick Dodge dispossessed a Cornell player behind the net and slotted the puck past junior goaltender David McKee, who made 27 saves on Friday.

More than five minutes later, the Golden Knights tied up the contest. Shawn Weller skated down the ice along the right boards and wristed a shot towards goal. McKee made the save, but the rebound came to an on-rushing Steve Zalewski in the slot, who poked it home. To make matters worse, Glover was knocked out of the game with a little more than three minutes left in the contest after a hit from Mike Willemsen.

“We talked to our guys about putting pucks on net and driving wide and using our speed,” Roll said. “There were two plays when our guys put the puck on net and there were rebounds laying there and we drove the net and able to chip them in.”

Sandwiched between the two disallowed goals was frantic play on both ends of the ice during the first overtime. Cornell, which has only lost once since the beginning of the 2000-01 when having a lead after the first two periods, looked to be in danger of falling behind in the series as Clarkson had several opportunities. Right after Mugford’s disallowed goal, McKee dove out to his left and made the save of the night off a Clarkson shot, tipping the puck with his glove just past the goal.

The Red, which forced Leggio to make 50 saves on Friday, also had numerous opportunities to win the game. Looking fresh in the first overtime after a bye week, Barlow and sophomore Topher Scott fooled the Golden Knights with nifty passing in the slot, but Scott was unable to put his shot on net. The Red outshot Clarkson, 10-4, during that frame.

“I actually thought in the first overtime, they had more legs than we did and I thought in the second, we kind of established a little bit of forecheck, had some chances,” Roll said. “They’re going to be a puck-possession team, they’re going to have the puck for a lot of the game, you’ve got to stay patient and I think our guys did a good job with that.”

The second overtime period was played at a similarly frantic pace, partially also due to the fact that the officials did not call a penalty for the final 38:03 of the game. Eventually, something had to give and at the 11:30 mark, Sawada became the hero at 10:39 p.m. on Friday night.

“I think that is pretty much the biggest goal I’ve ever scored,” Sawada said.

Archived article by Brian Tsao
Sun Senior Writer