November 5, 2007

Late Tally Lifts Tigers Over Red

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The men’s hockey team’s loss to Ivy rival Princeton Friday night, 3-2, was an exercise in frustration for the home team. The last time the Tigers won at Lynah Rink was the 1994-95 season, and the Red had swept Princeton last year. The question was who wanted it more.
“We knew [the Tigers] were going to come out hard,” said senior co-captain Topher Scott. “From when I was a freshman to now they’ve improved unbelievably. We didn’t play our game. We had a lot of mental lapses, and we let them take momentum when we should have.”
“We got into their kind of game,” agreed head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “[It was] up and down hockey, probably very exciting for the fans, [but we] just gave up to many odd-numbered rushes. I was very happy with the amount of offense we created … but the offensive chances that we gave up throughout the course of the game was just not typical of our team.”
Though the Red outshot the Tigers, 28-22, Cornell struggled to finish and went 0-for-4 on the power play. Princeton, on the other hand, was on the power play from the beginning. Just 24 seconds in, freshman Dan Nicholls was called for roughing. Overall, Princeton had a 15:27 to eight minute edge on the power play, with eight opportunities to Cornell’s (0-2-0, 0-1 ECAC Hockey League) four.
“They’re a very good transitional team,” Schafer said. “You need time to get used to them. You’re not going to win games by taking eight penalties, and if you don’t score on the number of scoring chances that we had. … I can count at least five, six, seven guys who had two great scoring chances, and you’ve got to bury those. I’ve got to say we had at least five or six [scoring chances] where we’re looking at the goalie all by ourselves. And to give [the Princeton goalie] credit, he obviously played well, but we’ve got to take that responsibility and relax and finish those chances.”
Princeton goaltender Zane Kalemba had 26 saves to Cornell junior Troy Davenport’s 19. The Tigers’ first goal, however was a defensive breakdown by the team, according to Schafer.
About six and a half minutes into the game, junior Lee Jubinville’s shot went into the right corner of the net. Cam MacIntyre and Brett Wilson recorded assists on the play. In fact, the line of Jubinville, MacIntyre and Wilson was responsible for all three of the Tigers’ tallies.
In the second period, the Red’s offense began to settle down and create chances. Cornell got its third turn on the power play after a Princeton holding call about five minutes into the period. During that time, the Red maintained possession, with junior Evan Barlow getting several close shots. Two slap shots from freshman Mike Devin came one after the other, each just missing.
This offensive flurry, while ultimately unsuccessful during the power play, set the stage for Cornell’s first goal of the game. Scott was left all alone and got the puck back on a defensive miscue by Princeton.
“Christmas came early for me,” Scott said. “The kid just kind of put it right on my stick. I was clear right in on the goal. I don’t really know what goes through my head on a breakaway like that, but I just thought I’d make a move. [The Princeton goalie] was playing deep in his net, and I knew I had to get it high.”
With a show-stopping deke, Scott put it past Kalemba at the 12:55 mark for an unassisted score. The tally was Scott’s first of the season.
“We were tied,” Scott said. “We were back in the game. We were down a couple times last game, and we weren’t able to come back, so it was a good feeling to get the game tied and get some momentum on our side. That and I hadn’t scored in forever.”
The goal gave some fire to the Cornell players. Though Princeton was on the power play within a couple minutes, the Red was solid on the penalty kill. From the squashing of the first Tigers’ offensive drive to an interception by sophomore defenseman Justin Krueger, the Red was beginning to roll.
The intensity of the action, however, resulted in another tally for the visitors. With Princeton on the power play and a lot of traffic around the Cornell crease, Jubinville was able to slip the puck in with 12 minutes and 37 seconds remaining in the period. Again, the Princeton forward was assisted by line mates Wilson and MacIntyre.
“They’re a good line,” Scott said. “They’re very skilled. Macintyre’s a big guy and he’s got a pretty good shot and the other two are pretty skilled. But we knew that coming in. We’ve got to execute. That’s the basic theme of why we’re not winning games now. We’ve got to execute.”
The lack of execution was evident in the third period. Cornell was working hard but couldn’t seem to follow through.
About eight and a half minutes into the final frame, however, the Red tied it up at 2-2. After freshman Riley Nash passed to sophomore Colin Greening in the middle, Greening’s shot was deflected by Kalemba but got the sophomore netminder out of position. Barlow then finished for the Red by lofting the puck over the Princeton goalie.
“We’ve got to score garbage goals,” Scott said. “We’ve got to get the puck to the net and just score gray goals that aren’t going to make the highlight tapes.”
Joe Scali stole the puck and had it right in front of Kalemba with less than seven minutes left but wasn’t quite successful. But with the pressure on the Red to get the gamewinner, Princeton’s dominant line again snuck through the Cornell defenses. Streaking through an unguarded slot on a pass from Jubinville, MacIntyre’s slow shot got by Davenport with 3:42 remaining in the game.
“We found ourselves out of position quite a bit tonight as far as not being disciplined with what we do,” Schafer said, “and with a team like that you’ll pay the price. They’ll move the puck quickly.”
Though Davenport struggled throughout the match, especially with loose pucks, Schafer never considered switching goalies, not even after the junior floundered in the face of Princeton’s gamewinner.
“Troy obviously wishes he had that one back,” Schafer said. “It’s a good chance to go back, watch it on video, make a decision and learn from it.”