February 19, 2007

M. Icers Earn Four Points, Home Playoff Series

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When the men’s hockey team traveled to No. 18 Quinnipiac last November, everything went wrong. Sophomore goaltender Troy Davenport gave up five goals, the penalty killing unit suffered and the game was played in a community ice rink with few spectators.

On Friday night at Lynah Rink, everything changed.

Davenport made 27 saves for the second shutout of his career as No. 20 Cornell upended the visiting Bobcats, 2-0, in front of a sold-out home crowd. Sophomore Evan Barlow’s first-period goal proved to be the game-winner in a contest that vaulted the Red (13-9-4, 9-6-4 ECACHL) into a tie for third place in the ECACHL with Quinnipiac (15-11-5, 9-6-4) and positioned Cornell for a potential bye into the league quarterfinals.

“It was a good game tonight,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “From now to last November, it seems like a year and a half ago.”

Freshman winger Colin Greening tallied his ninth goal of the season late in the third period to seal the victory for Cornell, which remained unbeaten in its previous three games. Davenport recorded 11 saves in the third period as the Bobcats outshot the Red, 27-20.

“Fortunately for me, my teammates played really well in front of me,” Davenport said. “The most important thing is the win for the team.”

Sophomore Bud Fisher made 18 saves for Quinnipiac in a game marred by scrums and penalties after the whistle. The Bobcats received 26 total minutes of penalties and the Red was called for 22 total penalty minutes. Quinnipiac’s power play unit — ranked second in the league with a 21.8 percent conversion rate — was 0-3 for the evening.

“I thought we played a mediocre game,” said Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold. “Cornell deserved to win — they played well tonight.”

Barlow opened the scoring for Cornell with 10:28 remaining in the first period while Quinnipiac freshman Josh Duncan was in the penalty box for hooking. Barlow took a cross-ice pass from junior assistant captain Topher Scott through the slot and blasted a one-timer past a diving Fisher.

It was a rare goal for the beleaguered Cornell power play unit, still ranked last in the ECACHL with only a 13.5 percent conversion rate.

“[Cornell] capitalized on the power play and we didn’t capitalize on ours,” said Quinnipiac senior Reid Cashman. “They came out and they took care of this place.”

The second period resulted in 36 of the game’s 48 penalty minutes as four misconduct penalties were assessed — including matching 10-minute misconducts for Cornell’s Mark McCutcheon and Quinnipiac’s Dan Henningson.

With just under 10 minutes remaining in the second frame, the Cornell bench received a scare when sophomore Michael Kennedy was hit hard into the boards by Quinnipiac junior Jamie Bates. Kennedy was slow to get up and Bates was called for contact-to-the-head roughing.

Quinnipiac pressed the Cornell defense for much of the third period until Greening gave Davenport and the Red a two-goal cushion at the 16:50 mark of the final frame. Greening received a pass from senior captain Byron Bitz in the Bobcats’ zone and snapped a shot through traffic and past Fisher’s outstretched glove.

Avenging its November loss to Quinnipiac was crucial for Cornell’s momentum heading into the final few games of the season.

“[The win] is a big stepping stone for us,” Barlow said. “Every point in the stretch drive is going to help.”