On a Halloween-themed occasion at Lynah Rink Saturday night, the orange-and-black clad RIT tried every trick in an effort to upend the men’s hockey team. Fortunately for the Red, the Tigers’ tricks were nothing to fear.
Cheered on by costumed fans and the Big Red Band’s rendition of the theme from The Munsters, No. 13 Cornell (2-0-0) dispatched RIT (3-3-1) by a score of 5-3 for its second victory of the season. The win guaranteed the Red’s first four-point weekend of the year and ended the Tigers’ four-game unbeaten streak in front of a sellout Lynah crowd.
“I’m happy to develop the habits of getting the win early in the season,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “Some things were good, and others we need to work on as a team.”
Junior assistant captain Topher Scott led the offense for the Red, scoring a goal and adding two assists for his first official points of the season. Freshman Blake Gallagher, junior Doug Krantz and seniors Mitch Carefoot and Mark McCutcheon also tallied goals for Cornell while sophomore Troy Davenport stopped 20 shots for his second victory. Junior Brent Patry and sophomores Justin Hofstetter and Steve Pinizzotto scored for the Tigers, who were out-shot by the Red, 35-23.
“I thought we played much better this year than last year in this building,” said RIT head coach Wayne Wilson, in reference to Cornell’s 3-1 win in January. “Cornell is smaller but quicker this season, and some of their smaller guys really generate some speed.”
The contest was marred by an onslaught of penalties. Special teams time accounted for 42 minutes of the game, with many of the calls reflecting the new NCAA standards concerning interference and obstruction. Of the 21 penalties called, 14 were for either hooking or interference.
Three of the Red’s five goals and one of the Tigers’ goals occurred on the power play.
“With the new rules, that’s the way things are going,” McCutcheon said. “Special teams have to do well, and that’s what we are going to be working on in practice.”
Carefoot opened the scoring for the Red just under five minutes into the game. With RIT’s Steven Matic in the penalty box for hooking, senior captain Byron Bitz streaked around the left circle and fired a low shot at Tigers’ goaltender Louis Menard. Menard made the initial save, but the rebound bounced fortuitously to the waiting Carefoot, who put the puck into the open net for a 1-0 Cornell lead. It was Carefoot’s second goal of the season and Bitz’s second assist.
Gallagher gave the Red a two-goal lead at the 10:49 mark of the first period when his centering pass deflected off of an RIT defensemen and through Menard’s pads.
Hofstetter cut the Red’s lead to one when he beat Davenport with a shot from outside the top right circle with eight and a half minutes remaining in the first frame. However, Scott returned Cornell’s two-goal advantage a minute and a half later with a low shot from the RIT slot that beat Menard to his blocker side. Sophomore Evan Barlow and freshman Tony Romano recorded assists on the goal.
“Our line is clicking right now,” Scott said. “I feel like we have a lot of chemistry.”
Krantz gave the Red a 4-1 lead in the second period when he banged a loose puck into the net after a scrum in front of Menard. Scott, who passed the puck to the front of the goal crease, collected an assist along with Romano.
RIT’s Brent Patry responded at the 11:02 mark of the second with a blistering slap shot from the top of the right circle in Cornell’s zone that beat Davenport high to his glove side. The Red was unable to clear its defensive zone for roughly a minute before Patry’s blast trimmed Cornell’s lead to 4-2.
McCutcheon returned the favor under two minutes later, however, when he unloaded a slap shot from the point past Menard to give the Red a 5-2 advantage. Scott and sophomore Jared Seminoff were credited with assists on the goal.
Cornell controlled play for the majority of the final period, due in large part to the four penalties taken by the Tigers. With 15 second left in the game, RIT added its third goal when Pinizzotto roofed a shot past Davenport from the low right post. The final tally was RIT’s first power-play goal of the game.
The Red opens ECACHL play next weekend when it travels to Brown and Yale for its first road games of the season. For Schafer and his squad, the two non-conference victories against Robert Morris and RIT were crucial to the development of the young team.
“You have to take your licks a little bit in learning lessons in games,” Schafer said. “It’s still a relatively young part of the year — we have everything to work on.”
[img_assist|nid=19318|title=Step ahead|desc=Junior defender Doug Krantz (17) scored a goal for the Red in a 5-3 win over RIT on Saturday night.(Ryan Dunn / Sun Senior Photographer)|link=popup|align=right|width=91|height=100]