October 22, 2007

Men's Hockey Scores Eight in Win

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The men’s hockey team was on a mission yesterday afternoon in its final exhibition game, dominating the University of Ottawa, 8-0. There was no personal vendetta against the visiting Gee Gees, but after a frustratingly scoreless outing against Trois Rivieres on Friday, the Red had unfinished business at Lynah Rink. Senior co-captain Topher Scott saw improvement in the team’s execution even between Friday’s and yesterday’s games.
“We worked hard both nights, but tonight I think we executed a little better,” Scott said. “I think they were a little more physical Friday, but it was because of us and what we did [against Ottawa that] was why we put up so many more goals tonight than Friday.”
Cornell’s 14-5 shot advantage for the first period alone, and 38-14 in total, highlighted the Red’s offensive state of mind from the opening faceoff at 4 p.m. Junior Evan Barlow scored the first goal of the game barely two minutes into the first period. After only five days of practice, head coach Mike Schafer ’86 was impressed with his team’s performance.
“I love the way we brought energy to both games both nights, and [I] didn’t sense any lulls in our intensity and our energy level,” Schafer said. “It’s been awhile since we’ve had that kind of focus over a two-game span.”
In Cornell’s second time on the power play, for example, Red players swarmed the Ottawa goal early in the second period. Sophomore Colin Greening soon put the puck in the back of the net. If there was any point when the Red broke the game open, Schafer thought it was the team’s reaction after that second goal.
“[Greening’s] power play goal kind of gave us some separation,” he said. “I thought we played very hard after we scored. As soon as we made it two-nothing, I really thought we came back with a lot of intensity and energy and didn’t back off.
Sophomore Blake Gallagher soon scored on a wraparound to the gloveside at 13:10. Three minutes later, sophomore defenseman Justin Krueger tapped it into the Ottawa net from the left side. The Red onslaught continued, as Joe Devin scored only 34 seconds into the third period. Scott assisted on both Gallagher’s and Krueger’s goals.
“We’re building a lot of chemistry,” Scott said. “I think that’s big. Our best line Friday night was [freshman] Dan Nicholls and [senior Chris] Fontas and [freshman] Joe Devin and Muggy [junior Tyler Mugford]. They come out and set the tone for us. What they do doesn’t show up on the score sheet, but in more ways than one they’re our most important line. They set the tone for the physical game. They get the other team on their heels and allow the offensive guys to really get some space out there. It’s a learning curve, and we’re just gaining some chemistry with each other.”
“We’re looking for a really good balance,” Schafer said. “I think we had scoring tonight from all four lines in the game. We’re going to have to strive to be not a one-line team but a team where any line can score a goal throughout the course of the night.”
One trio in particular has already got chemistry in spades and had repeated success yesterday. Freshman Patrick Kennedy had already assisted on Barlow’s game-opening goal. Barlow and the Kennedy brothers — junior Michael and freshman Patrick — had a perfect passing play in the third period which gave Barlow his second goal of the game.
[The Kennedys are] both great players, great shooters, great playmakers,” Barlow said. “They make a lot of saves for me out there … I didn’t think I’d get back into play [before that goal], but Patrick made a nice dish there with Mike picking it up through the neutral zone, and from there it’s a pretty wide open net thanks to those guys [the Kennedys].”
At 15:25, Senior Raymond Sawada regained possession in Cornell’s defensive zone and passed the puck to Greening. Streaking down the left side, he beat the defenders and deked Ottawa’s goalkeeper to bring the final score to 8-0.
The Red defense also shone in the exhibition match. Junior Troy Davenport recorded 14 saves on the day for his third career shutout.
“I thought [Davenport] made some huge saves in the third period,” Schafer said. “I thought he did a good job controlling offensive chances up until the third period, and then he made a couple real good saves, much like [sophomore goalie] Ben [Scrivens] did the night before.”
Davenport himself shared credit with his teammates, saying, “We’ve been keeping guys outside … For the most part we’ve got guys coming back hard, picking up guys, and our defense is pushing everyone outside so when they do get a shot it’s not at a very good angle. So it’s a little bit easier [for me] to cross, to control the saves and put the pucks either in the corners or swallow them up.”
Ottawa, on the other hand, was forced to swallow something much worse — defeat. In the final five minutes of the game, the visitors’ frustration showed, as the only full-out brawl of the day erupted in a line of fights behind the Ottawa goal. The Gee Gees were called for two roughing penalties and three ten-minute game misconduct penalties, while the Red had two roughing calls and a game misconduct of its own as a result of the incident.
“Our guys like that physical aspect,” Schafer said. “They engaged and finished our checks. I stated to our guys and made it a goal for our hockey team [that] we have to play physical this year, and if there’s not something happening then we’re not playing hard enough. For the most part, we need to be disciplined when scrums like that break out. We can’t initiate those kinds of scrums. It’s early, and the guys are really excited, but we’ve got to be a team that plays hard between the whistles, protects itself off the whistle and walks away. We did that, for the most part.”