October 27, 2006

M. Hockey Wins First Game

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With the men’s hockey team holding onto a tenuous 2-1 lead over upstart Robert Morris (1-3, 0-0 CHA) late in the third period, the No. 13/15 Red (1-0-0, 0-0-0 ECACHL) gained possession in the offensive zone. Freshman Brendan Nash unleashed a slap shot from the point and senior Mitch Carefoot buried the rebound with 46 seconds remaining to give the Red a two-goal lead en route to a 4-1 victory in the Red’s season opener last night at Lynah Rink.

[img_assist|nid=19247|title=Thats one|desc=Sophomore Michael Kennedy finds the back of the net with 10:40 left in the second period for the first goal of the game during the Red’s 4-1 victory over Robert Morris last night in Lynah Rink. (Ryan Dunn / Sun Senior Photographer)|link=popup|align=left|width=100|height=71]

Sophomore goaltender Troy Davenport stopped 16 shots and picked up the win in his first career start at Cornell. Cornell got goals from four different players, and freshman defenseman Brendan Nash added two assists in the win. Robert Morris, while being out-shot, 46-17, had numerous chances to tie the game but couldn’t muster an equalizer.

“We had a ton of chances, but couldn’t convert, and not converting on our opportunities is our Achilles’ heel,” said Colonials head coach Derek Schooley, “I give Cornell a lot of credit. They are very good down low, they play tough and they are very strong. They just kind of grind you down.”

The Red came out of the gates a little flat, and appeared sloppy, tentative and disorganized on the defensive end. Despite these early struggles, strong physical play led by senior captain Byron Bitz and Nash allowed the Red to contain the Colonials. Indeed, the Red out-shot Robert Morris, 16-5.

“I think it was a bit of a slow start for us, and that showed that we were nervous,” Bitz said. “We were coughing the puck up a lot and moving it before we had to, but as the game went on we got a little more confident out there.”

After a tripping penalty by Colonials junior Ryan Cuthers with just under eight minutes to go in the first, the Red seemed to spring to life. Cornell produced several good chances on the power play, and dominated the play for the rest of the period.

Just 2:15 into the second frame, sophomore Taylor Davenport almost gave the Red the lead on a hard slap shot from just inside the blue line, but the Colonials goalie, junior Christian Boucher, made a brilliant glove save. Boucher was busy all night long, making 42 saves in a losing effort.

“He’s probably one of the best goalies in the nation that no one has heard of, but our league has taken notice, and you saw that tonight,” Schooley said. “All you can ask of your goalies is to give you a chance to win, and they did that tonight.”

Boucher, however, could not keep the Red down forever. With just over nine minutes remaining in the second period, sophomore Evan Barlow broke in on the right side and hit streaking sophomore Mike Kennedy with a crisp pass right in front of the net. Kennedy moved the puck to his backhand before lifting it over a diving Boucher to give the Red a 1-0 lead.

“All week in practice, coach has been preaching to us, on rushes, to get to the net and put your stick on the ice,” Kennedy said. “I saw the guy was flat-footed, I went to the net hard, and Barlow made a great pass, really threaded the needle, and I just tried to put it on net.”

Just over five minutes later, the Red would strike again, this time on the power play. Junior Doug Krantz was controlling the puck at the point and fed freshman Blake Gallagher on the left side. Gallagher moved in and buried a low wrist shot glove-side to give Cornell a 2-0 lead. Nash also assisted on the play, which would end up as the game-winner.

With a two goal lead heading into the third period, a victory for Cornell was almost a sure thing; the Red has lost only twice since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season when leading after two periods.

However, the Colonials would not back down, and cut the deficit in half just under 3:30 into the final stanza. After Cornell failed to clear the puck from its defensive end, junior Joel Gasper collected the loose puck and beat Davenport between the legs.

While Robert Morris would have a few good chances to tie the game, the Red kept the pressure up on offense, and Davenport was able to preserve the lead.

“Going into the season everybody had questions about goaltending, and I think Troy Davenport clearly answered that question here tonight,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “I thought he made some great saves. They didn’t have a lot of shots, but they had some quality chances, and Troy did an unbelievable job.”

Cornell would put the game out of reach on Carefoot’s goal with 46 seconds to go and sophomore Tyler Mugford added an empty-netter with under a second left to give the Red a 4-1 victory.

Despite picking up the win, the Red knows it will need to play better next time around, specifically on the power play. Cornell went a dismal 1-for-10, and Schafer took note, saying his power play looked tentative, but asserting that his special teams will only get better with more practice.

Tonight’s game was also a reunion of sorts, as Schooley is a former player of Schafer’s, having played under the Cornell coach at Western Michigan. At WMI, Schooley was a teammate of Red assistant coaches Brent Brekke and Scott Garrow.

The Red is back in action tomorrow night, when RIT rolls into Lynah.

“We’ll have an opportunity to correct some things up tomorrow and get ready for and RIT team that has a great goaltender and plays with a lot of heart and passion,” Schafer said.