November 27, 2006

Men’s Hockey Splits Weekend Series Against Wayne State

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It was a tale of two games for sophomore goaltender Troy Davenport.

On Saturday night, Davenport gave up three goals and made two saves before being benched with 12:22 remaining in the opening period as No. 12 Cornell was upset by Wayne State, 5-4, in Lynah Rink.

But in yesterday’s rematch, Davenport notched 21 stops and earned his first career shutout in a 2-0 victory.

The defense in front of Davenport was also night and day over the two games, as the Red (7-3-0, 4-2-0 ECACHL) gave up four power-play goals on Saturday — including two in 3-on-5 situations — then rebounded to hold the Warriors (3-10-0, 1-1-0 CHA) to 0-of-7 on the power play yesterday.

[img_assist|nid=20227|title=m hockey|desc=Senior captain Byron Bitz (29) battles Wayne State senior Mark Nebus (17) for possession of the puck during Cornell’s 5-4 loss in Lynah Rink on Saturday night.|link=popup|align=left|width=100|height=71]
“[Yesterday, Davenport] was much more solid and focused,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “And I thought the guys in front of him were better and didn’t give him the point-blank looks that they’d been giving him. [We’ve] been leaving our goalie out to dry with that recently, so it was just a much better effort.”

The home team had five different players find the back of the net over the weekend. In Saturday’s loss, freshman Colin Greening scored twice and classmate Justin Milo added his first career goal, while senior captain Byron Bitz also scored. Yesterday, seniors Raymond Sawada and Mark McCutcheon tallied for the Red.

For the Warriors, who have played just two home games this season, the taste of success offered hope for the upcoming season.

“Any time you come on the road and get a split, especially against a quality team like Cornell, you’ve got to be happy,” said Wayne State head coach Bill Wilkinson. “Certainly, the special teams power play for Cornell was a lot more effective [yesterday]. We just took way too many penalties.”We just took way too many penalties.”

The Warriors were on the attack from the first whistle on Saturday, as junior Jason Baclig put the visitors on the scoreboard first with 11:56 remaining in the first period. After Bitz and sophomore Tyler Mugford were sent to the penalty box for interference and hitting from behind, respectively, senior Nate Higgins took advantage of the 5-on-3 situation to strike again for the Warriors with 9:22 left on the clock. Wayne State exploited Cornell’s special teams’ play a third time at the 7:38 mark, when junior Derek Bachynski added another power-play goal after Greening was handed a two-minute penalty for roughing.

After this goal, Davenport was pulled and freshman goaltender Ben Scrivens stepped between the pipes for the Red. He finished the game with 16 saves.

The Warriors were anchored their rookie goaltender, Brett Bothwell, who had 27 saves on the night.

“It’s kind of frustrating when we keep digging ourselves a hole, taking bad penalties and just not executing on the penalty kill,” Schafer said.

The Red was handed an opportunity when Wayne State junior Stavros Paskaris was called for tripping, and Greening took advantage of the opening to get Cornell in the game with his second goal of the year with just under three minutes left in the period. Senior forward Mitch Carefoot and freshman forward Blake Gallagher assisted on the play.

Milo got the Red off to a strong start in the second period, scoring with just 1:33 elapsed in the frame, on assists from Carefoot and junior defender Doug Krantz. The momentum was short-lived, however, as the Warriors fought back with a goal from senior Dan Iliakis on the power play to take a 4-2 lead into the third period.

Greening added his second goal with 4:19 gone in the final stanza, gathering a pass from freshman forward Tony Romano and sending it home after Wayne State rookie Jeff Caister was sent to the box for tripping.

Scrivens came up with the biggest save of his young career a few minutes later, as junior Tyler Michael had a chance to put the Warriors up by three with a penalty shot. However, Scrivens saved the low shot with his left leg pad.

Wayne State senior Mark Nebus scored a power-play goal with 9:44 remaining in the game, and Bitz answered with a man-advantage tally of his own less than five minutes later, with assists going to junior assistant captain Topher Scott and junior forward Raymond Sawada. Although Cornell out-shot the visitors, 31-23, the Red’s offense was stymied down the stretch as the Warriors claimed an upset.

Cornell was called for 11 penalties on the night, while Wayne State was whistled 14 times.

The win snapped a three-game skid for the visitors, and the four power-play goals scored by Wayne State was a season high. The vitory was bittersweet, however, as the Warriors’ Iliakis suffered a shoulder injury and did not play in Saturday’s game.

In the other locker room, Cornell was looking forward to easing the pain of defeat with a strong follow-up performance the next night.

“We were kind of disappointed in ourselves [and] how we played. We wanted to come out tonight and play a complete, 60-minute game and force it at them all night,” Davenport said. “[We wanted to] remember what happened and come out a little extra hard and make sure it didn’t happen again.”

The two teams battled through the first period with no score.

The Red’s best chance came when Sawada’s shot from the right corner went by Wayne State senior goaltender Will Hooper but ricocheted off the inside left post.

Sawada was more fortunate in the second period, when he scored his third goal of the season with 5:54 gone in the frame. As time ran out on the Cornell power play, McCutcheon sent a pass from the point to Scott in the corner. Scott sent the puck in front of net, where Sawada was able to deflect it into the net.

“I think it was just a lucky goal — I was in the right place at the right time,” Sawada said. “[Scott] was trying to feed it to Bitz and I think it went off one of the defensemen’s skates and came right to me, and I was just lucky to put it in the back of the net.”

The unintentional misdirection did the trick against Hooper.

“It looked to me like [Scott] was going to shoot, so I was down,” Hooper said. “I don’t know if he hit a leg or passed it to the other guy, but he had an open net. I just kind of slid — I wasn’t even close.”

After Wayne State senior Jason Bloomingburg was whistled for tripping with 11:44 left in the second period, and Davenport broke up an attempt at a short-handed goal, McCutcheon added an insurance goal for Cornell. He found the back of the net with a slap shot from the left point at the 10:34 mark, with assists going to sophomore defender Jared Seminoff and Sawada.

Wayne State was able to create more chances than Cornell for the first time all night in the third period, out-shooting the Red, 9-7, but the home team held on for the win.

“A couple guys were blocking some shots in the third period, which helped a lot,” Davenport said. “[On Saturday] it seemed like we weren’t getting in the shot lanes a whole lot, and they were getting shots through. Tonight guys were sacrificing and taking it off the legs, off the body, helping me out a lot.”

The Red held off three power plays by the Warriors in the third period, including a brief 5-on-3 situation. In all, Cornell was called for eight penalities on the night, while Wayne State was given 12, including a 10-minute game misconduct for Caister in the final minutes of the game.

When all was said and done, the quick redemption for Davenport meant as much to the team as getting the win.

“That’s the thing most guys are happy about right now,” McCutcheon said. “That’s a big shutout and I think that will really help him and his confidence and really keep the momentum going for him.”