October 16, 2006

Bitz and White Squad Edge Red Team in Scrimmage

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After a month and a half of nothing but captain’s practices, the men’s hockey team took to the ice at Lynah Rink in front of a crowd for the first time this season on Friday night. The annual Red and White scrimmage, an intra-squad game, gives the Red a chance to showcase its talents and allows the coaching staff an opportunity to see where the team stands.

The White team, led by senior captain Byron Bitz, was able to take home a 5-4 victory in the scrimmage. The game was divided into two 20-minute halves, wherein each squad was given power plays in addition to 5-on-5 and 4-on-4 play. The night ended with a shootout, in which each player was given a chance to shoot.

“It’s a lot of fun to get out here in front of the fans, and in front of everyone, to be in game mode,” said junior assistant captain Topher Scott. “We’ve just been playing against each other for the month and a half, and we’re kind of sick of it, so it’s good to get out here and be in a game situation.”

In front of a less than capacity but still enthusiastic crowd, the Red team was able to jump out to a 1-0 lead just under four minutes into the first half. After a loose puck bounced out between the circles, senior Evan Salmela was able to bury a shot past freshman Ben Scrivens, with assists going to freshman Tony Romano and junior Chris Fontas.

[img_assist|nid=18948|title=Line of sight|desc=Junior defenseman Doug Krantz (17) works the puck past sophomore forward Evan Barlow (20) during the hockey team’s annual Red vs. White scrimmage this past Friday.|link=popup|align=left|width=100|height=70]

Junior Joe MacDonald, one of two members of the Cornell club team playing in the game, made it 2-0 for the Red after he took a pass from Fontas and buried a shot from the top of the circle.

The White team was able to get a goal back before the end of the first half, when freshman Brendan Nash buried a rebound passed Scrivens, with assists going to sophomore Tyler Mugford and senior Matt Hedge.

With a youthful roster that features just nine upperclassmen, the large freshmen class showed it can be counted on to make an impact.

“All of them can step in right away, and we’re really impressed with how they’ve been handling themselves on and off the ice,” Scott said.

Both squads failed to score in the second half, as the Cornell defenses proved too much for often sloppy offensive units. Head coach Mike Schafer ’86, however, noted that the season is still very young, and the Red will certainly improve.

“A lot of the young guys, they really have no idea what our systems are, and a lot of the older guys are trying to get rid of habits,” Schafer said. “So, we are what we are. That was our first practice, and we’re prepared to get to work.”

The shootout gave Schafer a chance to see all three of his goalies in action, and with no final decision made on who will start, every shot is important. Sophomore Dan DiLeo, who saw no playing time last season, was impressive, stopping 7-of-8 shots. Sophomore Troy Davenport stopped 7-of-10, and freshman Ben Scrivens stopped 5-of-7.

“Troy played pretty well, and did a good job, especially in the first period when the White team had some chances,” Schafer said. “But, it’s the first practice, and there is still a long way to go. The talent is fairly equal, so we could see a couple of them get an opportunity to play and prove themselves.”

It is expected that Scrivens and Davenport will split time to start the season.

After the White team picked up goals from freshman Joe Scali and club team member Chris Axtell, the Red side responded on sophomore Taylor Davenport’s hard wrist shot to even the score at 3-3. Sophomore Jared Seminoff scored for the White team to retake the lead, only to have senior Kevin McLeod even it up at four on the Red’s last shot.

Byron Bitz would be the last shooter, and the captain did not squander the chance. Bitz beat DiLeo with a hard wrist shot to win the game for the White squad. After the game, Schafer praised his captains for their hard work and leadership.

“Byron played physical, and it can be frustrating for a captain when you know how things should be,” Schafer said. “Him and Topher have done a great job at making things competitive, but also keeping it fun, and keeping everyone in great shape.”

Senior defenseman Dan Glover, who is out until January after hip surgery, did not play. The Red will be back in action next Saturday when York comes into town for an exhibition game.