Sometimes, it only takes a few moments of brilliance to turn a seemingly out of reach game into a wild one. But as the men’s hockey team learned Saturday night, those few moments don’t always make up for the rest of the night’s inadequacies.
Down 3-0 with a minute to go, the men’s hockey team mounted a ferocious comeback against Dartmouth, scoring two goals in only 20 seconds after having been stifled for over 59 minutes. Yet, in the end, the Red (4-1-0, 3-1-0 ECACHL) could only watch as the Green (6-2-0, 3-2-0) controlled the puck along the boards to close out the game and Cornell’s late rally.
“The challenge this afternoon was to see how hungry we were going to be after winning a game and being 4-0, and were we going to respond,” said men’s hockey coach Mike Schafer ’86. “We didn’t respond very well.”
Cornell started off well enough, with 16 shots on goal in the first period alone. Junior Topher Scott’s play caused trouble on the wing for the Green, and freshman Colin Greening and senior captain Byron Bitz both came close to scoring in the period, with Greening’s shot hitting side-netting and Bitz’s shot grazing the post.
Nonetheless, as it did until the very end of the game, the visitor’s defense held firm throughout. Dartmouth stifled Cornell’s opportunities on both special teams and even strength, blocking 17 of Cornell’s 66 shots attempted for the game.
“They did a great job of taking lanes away blocking shots, but we made it way too easy for them — we shot it right into them,” Bitz said. “There’s definitely no quit in the team, we just need to make sure we’re putting 60 minutes together.”
The stellar play of goaltender Mike Devine helped the Green take control as well. Devine stopped 34 shots on goal and saved a penalty shot at the end of the second period to preserve Dartmouth’s momentum in a hostile Lynah Rink.
“We’ve had great goaltending all season long and all weekend long from Mike Devine,” said Dartmouth head coach Bob Gaudet. “Give them a lot of credit — they were down in the game, and they just battled, and battled, and battled, and it went right down to the last second.”
“They let me see shots so Cornell didn’t really have too many great scoring chances on the power play,” Devine said of his defense. “They’ve been doing it all year. I just want to try to make the first stop and those guys concentrate on getting it out, and they’ve done a great job of doing that so far and definitely will continue to do that, hopefully.”
Dartmouth turned the tide of the game in the first, however, when senior Evan Salmela was called for elbowing. On the ensuing power play, Ben Lovejoy scored on a shot from the point (from Nick Johnson and J.T. Wyman) at the 7:55 mark. Later in the period, penalties on sophomores Tyler Mugford and Jared Seminoff gave the Green a 5-on-3 advantage. Just as Mugford raced out of the box at the start of the 5-on-4, T.J. Galiardi scored (assisted by Connor Shields) with an ice-grazing shot from sophomore goalie Troy Davenport’s left circle. With only a 21 seconds left in the period, the 2-0 lead seemed to deflate the game and the Red’s hopes for a win.
Dartmouth out-shot Cornell 34-20 overall and was 2-of-6 on the power play. But it was the Red’s penalties and inability to score on its seven power plays that had Schafer most annoyed.
“We took stupid penalties to put ourselves down [5-on-3]. We didn’t pay the price blocking shots ourselves. Those small things, they add up,” Schafer said. “It’s not the penalty kill that lost the game, it’s the power play. … We can’t come out on a 5-on-3 and just absolutely chop it up like we did there tonight. Those guys that’re on that 5-on-3, they’ve got to hold themselves accountable. That’s the turning point of the game.”
The game was back-and-forth afterwards until Cornell senior Mitch Carefoot stole the puck at the blue line in his own zone. Accelerating past Dartmouth defenders, he broke for goal and was tripped from behind as he skated past Devine without getting a shot off.
A penalty was given despite protests by Dartmouth’s players, and Carefoot stepped up to take it with only nine seconds remaining in the period. After weaving from center ice, the senior shot high, prompting elation of Dartmouth players and collective sighs in Lynah.
“He just shot, [it] hit my glove and went wide. So, it was big for momentum — the last 10 seconds of the period I think it was — so it was big to go into the period 2-0 instead of 2-1,” Devine said.
“To go into the third period 2-1, it would have been a much different story,” Gaudet said.
Down 2-0, the Red came out in the third with increasing recklessness toward goal. After being stifled for another 17 minutes, Cornell pulled the goaltender to try to gain an advantage. Despite losing the face-off inside its own zone and being down a skater, Dartmouth was able to intercept a Red pass and race down ice, with Tanner Glass netting the game-winning goal and giving the Green a 3-0 lead with 2:22 left in the contest.
Red shots began raining in from the point and both circles, and at 19:09 into the period, the Red’s comeback began. On a scramble in front of net, rookie Tony Romano reached the puck before a Dartmouth defender and put the puck past the near-flawless Devine. Only 20 seconds later, Corenll doubled its tally. This time, junior Raymond Sawada netted on a pass from senior Mark McCutcheon to the front of the net.
But the Red couldn’t tie the score and Dartmouth emergedvictorious, with the Green players celebrating and taunting the Lynah crowd as they left the ice.