Jumping for joy, his arms raised, rookie Justin Milo suddenly found himself mobbed by teammates. After witnessing so many breaks in favor of the opposition, the men’s hockey team finally got a favorable one on Saturday night. Actually, it got two.
Milo scored the game-winner off a rebound for his second career goal and senior Mitch Carefoot scored the game-tying goal off of rookie Brendon Nash’s wide shot to snap Cornell’s (10-8-3, 6-5-3 ECACHL) streak of seven games without a victory and defeat rival Colgate (11-13-4, 5-6-3), 2-1, at Lynah Rink.
“We had a bad break down around our net, otherwise, we’d probably still be out there playing in overtime right now,” said Colgate coach Don Vaughan. “So, it’s a bad break of the puck — it didn’t bounce for us tonight.”
The win was also Cornell head coach Mike Schafer’s 231st, making him the all-time winningest coach in the men’s hockey team’s illustrious history.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to move forward here and start to string some wins along together,” Schafer said. “We give up a soft goal and then we come all the way back and, obviously, tie it up and get the game-winner.”
The “soft goal” came from junior assistant captain Tyler Burton. Burton put Colgate ahead at 4:46 in the second period with a wraparound shot that fooled freshman goalie Ben Scrivens. Goaltending has been a point of concern for the Red this season, with neither Scrivens nor sophomore Troy Davenport having asserted himself as the clear starter. But on this night, Scrivens came through for the Red.
“I was a little late going down, so it went under my first pad and hit my second pad and went in,” said Scrivens, who made 24 saves on the night. “He just caught me off. That goal doesn’t happen too often. I just tried to rebound after that.”
Both Scrivens and his Colgate counterpart, junior Mark Dekanich — the reigning co-ECACHL Goaltender of the Week — had plenty of help from their defenses. The Raiders blocked 11 shots while the Red blocked 10, and the two teams combined to go 0-for-9 on the power play. Cornell allowed only two shots on the penalty kill while managing 10 against Colgate’s penalty killing unit. But on Burton’s goal, the forward was able to skate around behind net and get an open look on net.
“You could sense on the bench that, when the first one went in on us, it was like, ‘not again,’” Schafer said. “But as I said, character-wise, they never let down they didn’t question. They plowed ahead and kept plugging.”
The Red’s efforts to tie the score were rewarded just over five minutes later. Sophomore Jared Seminoff passed across the top of the offensive zone to Nash, who one-timed a slap shot wide to Dekanich’s left. The shot was low and ricocheted to the goaltender’s right, where senior Mitch Carefoot was able to backhand it in for a goal.
“Nash just shot it off the end boards, and I just planted myself [on] net,” Carefoot said. “It’s something we practiced … I got a lucky bounce.”
From there, the Red seemed to push even harder for the second goal, dominating possession and out-working the Raiders along the boards. Cornell out-shot Colgate 23-16 in the second and third periods combined, and 36-25 for the game.
The Red finally got the breakthrough it had been waiting all year for at 14:38 in the third period. Senior defenseman Dan Glover skated along the left wing all the way down behind goal and then worked his way to the opposite side behind the net. Glover threw the puck in front where Milo was waiting, and the rookie did the rest.
“I just stayed in front because I thought he was going to hit me with it, and he did, and I got my own rebound and banged it home,” Milo said. “It was just a huge goal for us, and then it was only my second goal of my career, so it just felt great. … We were all pumped up and it felt good.”
“It’s a pass off from the corner. I make a big save off the one-timer in front, and the guy picks up the rebound and puts it in,” Dekanich said. “I thought we played better tonight than we did on Thursday [night’s victory over Cornell]. … Just lucky bounces.”
Special teams proved to be a major part of the contest late when, with 4:37 remaining, junior Doug Krantz received a five-minute major for hitting from behind, and a game misconduct. But the Red cleared the puck 10 times, endured 36 seconds of 6-on-4 hockey, and allowed only two shots on net during that span to get its first win of the not-so-new year.
“It was a great character moment for us — that last four and a half minutes — to kill off to win the hockey game,” Schafer said.
“We had a five-minute major at the end of the game, and I don’t know if we even mustered a shot,” Vaughan said. “I thought we forced things. I don’t know if the crowd had something to do with that or the urgency of the moment. But I didn’t think we played with as much composure as we did the other night.”
After having so many opportunities slip away in the final period this season, the Cornell players were glad to finally play well enough to earn a win with their play in the game’s final frame.
“This is kind of a turning point for us, we have to build off this now,” Scrivens said. “I thought we’ve played well the last six or seven games; we just weren’t getting the outcomes we wanted. But we weren’t changing our work ethic.”