February 26, 2007

Men’s Hockey Swept, Earns ECACHL Playoff Bye

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HANOVER, N.H. — The last weekend of the season is typically the time when the Red shines brightest, as it readies for the ECACHL playoffs. When it comes to playing Dartmouth, however, Cornell just can’t seem to find its groove.

The Green (15-10-3, 11-7-3 ECACHL) steamrolled to a 5-1 victory with three third-period goals Friday night, sweeping the season-series and earning a share of the Ivy League title. No. 16 Cornell (14-10-4, 10-7-4) fell into a tie for fourth place with No. 19 Quinnipiac, putting its first-round ECACHL playoff bye in jeopardy.
[img_assist|nid=21666|title=Make the kill.|desc=Junior assistant captain Topher Scott (26) attempts to desposit the loose puck into the back of the Harvard net during the Red’s 3-1 loss to the Crimson on Saturday. Despite the loss, Cornell secured fourth place in the ECACHL and a first-round playoff by|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=69]
“It feels amazing. That’s a really good team we played, and it seems like every year we have this game where we can get a share of the Ivy League,” said Dartmouth senior captain Tanner Glass, who scored the empty-net, game-winning goal in the last clash between the teams on Nov. 11, handing the Red its first ECACHL loss of the season. “Last year, [the Ivy-clinching game] was at Cornell and they beat us there, so it’s pretty sweet to beat them at home.”

Green junior assistant captain David Jones had three assists, including two on the power play, and Glass picked up a goal and an assist to lead the rout. Special teams was a major difference in the game, as Cornell allowed three power-play goals for the second consecutive game, with Dartmouth going 3-for-9on the advantage, while the Green held the Red to a meager 0-for-10.

“We’ve been good the last couple weekends, but when you practice all week and things look like they did out there, the switch doesn’t magically turn on and all of a sudden your power play’s going to go 3-for-10,” said senior captain Byron Bitz, who scored Cornell’s lone goal in the third period. “We were awful all week and it showed tonight — we were awful out there.”

Despite its special-teams woes, the Red outshot the Green, 35-21, including 17-8 on the power play, forcing Dartmouth junior goaltender Mike Devine made 34 saves. Troy Davenport made 16 saves for the Red, but the second-year goalie allowed four or more goals for the second straight game.

“That’s been the name of our game this season. We come out, where we get a lot of offensive chances like we did tonight, and if we don’t find the back of the net — just like any other team — you’re going to lose a lot of hockey games,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “The way the shots were early on, you’ve got to score. You’ve got to score on the road. That was a disappointing aspect about tonight.”

Both teams came into the contest having won five of their last seven games, and the game was back-and-forth early. Dartmouth had a goal disallowed on a kick-in midway through the opening period, while the Red outshot the Green 10-3 in the opening period. It was typical of the entire contest, with Dartmouth generating far more dangerous chances despite being outshot.

“We had some chances to score, but [Devine] was good positionally and their defense was pretty strong in front of the net as well, taking sticks away,” Bitz said. “Some of the shots weren’t that good a quality, but it’s just one of those nights where the puck wasn’t going in, and we didn’t persevere through it.”

Penalties from both sides, with nine from Cornell and 12 from Dartmouth, turned the contest ugly at times, but also served as its catalyst. Dartmouth killed five penalties in the first period, including a 5-on-3 with less than four minutes until the first intermission, to keep the score tied at 0.

The Green came out firing in the second period, and by the time the second intermission arrived, the score was 2-0, identical to the second intermission scoreline when the teams last met. At 6:16 into the second period, rookie T.J. Galiardi snapped a wrist shot just in front of the blue line, midway between the circles, that found its way into the corner for Dartmouth’s first goal.

Junior J.T. Wyman’s shot from the point with just over two minutes left gave the Green its second power-play goal, and a major boost going into the third period.

“The 5-on-3 in the first was a big turning point for us, and then, getting the two-goal lead going into the third was huge for us because then we could just kind of get the puck deep and play hard,” said Dartmouth head coach Bob Gaudet.

With the Red opening up the game even more to push for a goal, and already showing an inability to stop the Green from creating scoring chances, Dartmouth piled on goals in the third period. Jones scored the Green’s third goal when he broke out of his defensive zone unmarked. Skating in with a defender coming at him from the left, he fired a wrist shot that deflect loudly off the post. The rebound fell right in front for the streaking Glass to convert and push the lead to 3-0.

Soon afterwards, Devine was forced to make a number of saves on the power play. Devine allowed only one shot despite facing 19 in third, thanks to a combination of poor shooting and quality goaltending.

“He’s been really working on his rebound control lately, and thought that was his high point of his game tonight,” Glass said. “I think a lot of goalies might have put up some rebounds there and Cornell might have buried some rebounds because they were going to the net hard all night, but Devine seemed to be swallowing everything up and not giving them second opportunities.”

Glass helped make it 4-0 when he received a pass from Jones, wide-open in the slot, during a Red defensive breakdown on the power play. Although Davenport saved Glass’ initial shot, Johnson put back the rebound with 11:34 remaining in the contest.

Bitz scored on deflected shot from the blue line by senior Kevin McLeod soon after, but the muted celebrations would turn to sighs only a few moments later.

Dartmouth Sophomore Rob Pritchard scored the Green’s fifth and final goal on a wrist shot from the circle, top-shelf on Davenport, effectively killing any chance of a Cornell rally.

“We wanted to get better, and we didn’t. We didn’t play as well as the game went on, and the score reflected it,” Bitz said. “We’ve got to forget about this.”