January 22, 2007

M. Hockey Takes One Point in Homestand

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Just when the men’s hockey team appeared poised for its first win in the last five games, a bizarre bounce sent the Red limping back to mediocrity.

Clutching a 2-1 lead with 1:22 remaining in the final period against Yale on Friday night, Cornell allowed a power play goal on an awkward play that resulted in 2-2 overtime tie at Lynah Rink. Freshman goaltender Troy Davenport had gone behind the net to play the puck when he slipped and the puck caromed into the vacated crease. The loose puck bounced off of back-checking sophomore Jared Seminoff’s shin and into the empty net for the game-tying goal.

Yale rookie Thomas Dignard received credit for the score as the last Bulldog to touch the puck.

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“It’s frustrating to lose a point with a bad bounce at the end,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “But things happen like that through the course of the year. What’s important is how you respond.”

Freshman Tony Romano and senior captain Byron Bitz scored for Cornell (9-6-3, 5-3-3 ECACHL), which remained unbeaten against Yale in the previous 14 meetings. Bulldogs’ captain Matt Cohen added the first goal for Yale.

“It was a terrific college hockey game,” said Yale head coach Keith Allain. “It’s nice to come up here and get a point. It’s not easy to get a point [at Lynah].”

Davenport finished with 15 saves for the Red, which out-shot the Bulldogs, 25-17. Yale sophomore goaltender Alec Richards stopped 23 shots. Romano opened the game’s scoring with highlight-worthy goal at the 9:04 mark of the first period. The rookie winger received a pass from sophomore Tyler Mugford and carried the puck deep into the Yale zone on the left side. Romano then drove towards Richards and flipped a back-handed shot over the goaltender’s blocker to give Cornell a 1-0 lead. It was the seventh goal of the season for Romano.

“I scored a ton of goals like that in juniors,” Romano said. “It’s a good spot for me.”

Yale evened the score with 11:45 remaining in the second period on Cohen’s blast from the top of the right circle. Cohen took a pass from senior Robert Burns and beat Davenport’s glove on a shot through traffic. Defenseman Bill LeClerc recorded the second assist. With just over five minutes remaining in the second period, an unusual series of events led to Cornell’s second goal.

At the 14:20 mark of the frame, back-to-back Yale penalties gave the Red a 5-on-3 power play opportunity. Seconds later, Cornell freshman Blake Gallagher was penalized for tripping to trim the Red’s advantage to a 4-on-3. On the ensuing play, a loose puck in front of the Yale goal appeared to cross the goal line as Bulldogs’ sophomore Matt Nelson covered the puck with his glove.The resulting confusion was solved by referee Peter Feola by giving Cornell the option of a penalty shot or another power play.

The Red opted for the penalty shot and sent Romano to center ice for a chance at his second goal of the game. Richards, however, foiled Romano’s attempt and kept the score knotted at 1-1. Still on the power play, Cornell worked the puck back into the Yale zone as Seminoff and senior Mark McCutcheon traded passes before McCutcheon launched a shot on goal. Richards made the initial save yet could not control the rebound, which was corralled by Bitz and lifted into the net for his fourth goal of the season.

“We thought the first [goal] was in,” Bitz said. “And then [Romano’s shot] almost went over the line. It was important to get that one and go up 2-1.”

Cornell and Yale traded penalties in the third period before Cornell junior Ray Sawada was called for charging at the 17:19 mark of the final frame. The Yale power play led to the game-tying goal.

“It was a tough break but we thought we played hard,” Romano said. “Overall we thought we played well.”

The tie extended Cornell’s winless streak to five games heading into Saturday night’s match-up against Brown.