November 19, 2007

Cornell tops Dartmouth for first time since 2004

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HANOVER, N.H. — With a vocal Red crowd in hostile Green territory, the men’s hockey team’s 4-1 road win against Dartmouth Saturday night was an even, uneventful game in person and on paper — with no spectacular, game-defining play and a one-shot advantage going to Dartmouth, 23-22.
Christmas came early for Cornell this weekend, however, as the Red left town with a 4-1 victory behind the solid performance of sophomore netminder Ben Scrivens and a two-goal outburst from freshman Dan Nicholls.
“After the loss [to Harvard Friday night] we definitely didn’t want to go home with zero [points],” Scrivens said. “To get two points out of tonight coming into Dartmouth, which is a tough rink to play in, it was big for us. For some reason Cornell teams in the past few years have found [Thompson Arena] tough to play in, so we were kind of fighting our heads at the start, but we settled down after the first couple of minutes. A rink’s a rink in the end.”
There was no sense of urgency in the opening minutes of the game. Cornell was playing back, and Dartmouth’s first few shots on goal went straight to Scrivens’s chest. At 6:49 into the match, however, the Red offense suddenly generated some excitement when freshman Patrick Kennedy’s shot was blocked by Dartmouth senior goalie Mike Devine, but senior co-captain Raymond Sawada cleaned up the rebound to give Cornell an early lead.
“It wasn’t quite as consistent as we would have liked at the beginning there, but it seemed to work out in our favor at the end,” Nicholls said.
Getting on the board first was the key play of the game, according to Scrivens.
“[Sawada] stepped up [and] scored the first goal,” he said. “We had the lead, and it really started to build from there. Guys loosened their grips on their sticks a little. They were a lot more relaxed, making better plays out there [and] better reads. That’s a testament to our leadership [when] a guy like that [a captain] steps up in the sort of situation that we’re in and delivers.”
The Red’s penalty kill was best represented in its first outing of the game. A roughing penalty was called on Cornell a minute after Sawada’s goal, but the Green’s first attack ended quickly when senior Chris Fontas iced the puck. Though Dartmouth was swarming the Cornell defensive zone almost the entire two minutes, the Red rode it out, with no Dartmouth attempts even coming close. Overall, the home team had no shots on three power play opportunities.
With Dartmouth on the power play, the Green’s Nick Johnson was trying to set up shot at the Cornell blue line, but lost the puck to junior Michael Kennedy, who immediately took off for the Dartmouth goal on a breakaway. Though Johnson stopped Kennedy’s run, the Dartmouth senior was called for hooking. With 2:51 left in the period, both teams were now down a man.
The Red took advantage of the lucky break. Junior Jared Seminoff had a shot on goal off a pass from freshman Riley Nash. The Dartmouth goalkeeper stopped it, but junior Evan Barlow got the rebound and, 1-on-1 with Devine, gave Cornell a 2-0 lead.
Though the home team was short-handed, the Green managed to give the home fans something to cheer about in the final minute of the period. Dartmouth’s Johnson skated down the left side and got Scrivens to move towards him. Johnson passed to Green sophomore Joe Gaudet, who put it into the wide-open right side of the net with 36 seconds remaining.
Leading 2-1 at the end of the first period, the Red had already reached the final score of Friday’s game against Harvard, this time in Cornell’s favor.
Technical difficulties at the beginning of the second period didn’t bode well for the home team. The lights in the arena didn’t work, and the teams were sent back to the locker room for a 13-minute delay. The game clock also didn’t register the continuation of the penalty on Dartmouth’s Rob Pritchard.
Once play resumed in earnest, however, the Red showed some offensive spark. Midway through the period, Cornell had a 7-1 shot on goal advantage.
“I thought we were very patient, created a lot of chances in the second period,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “I thought we had some great opportunities, especially in the first five or six minutes in the power play. [It was] a good play by Joe Scali there to feed it to Dan Nicholls to make it 3-1, and we just played solid defense for the rest of the way.”
Sophomore Joe Scali had been instrumental throughout the game, doing the dirty work mid-ice and creating scoring opportunities. Scali came through for the Red near the end of the period to set up the third goal.
The forward skated down the left side, evaded a defender and passed to the middle. Dan Nicholls was there waiting and rammed the puck into the net at full speed. It crossed the goal line before the net came crashing down, according to the official.
“Joe Scali made a good play off the faceoff,” Nicholls said. “The puck went up to a d-man and [Scali] managed to chip it by him and get by the guy. He just followed up, and Scali beat his man and put it right on my stick. [Scali] did all the work. I just had to tap it in.”
In the third period, Dartmouth’s frustration grew. Dartmouth outshot Cornell, 8-4, in the final period, but Scrivens came up big in goal, recording eight saves to Devine’s three. The Green seemed to run out of luck completely. With a little more than 10 minutes left, for example, the puck went straight behind Scrivens but didn’t cross the goal line.
Nicholls got his second tally of the night at the 11:34 mark. The freshman forward from Ontario got the senior goaltender flat on his stomach by faking a low shot. Nicholls then whiffed the puck into the open net.
“It seemed like [the Dartmouth goalie] was out of his net quite a bit, which is how we got some of our goals,” Nicholls said. “[For] Barlow’s goal, he deked around on a rebound. The goalie was kind of down and out, and [it was] the same with the fourth goal. The goalie kind of went down and you just have to be patient and go around him.”
Cornell was the clear victor, 4-1, as time was winding down, but the game didn’t end when the buzzer sounded. Two Dartmouth players and two Cornell players clashed near the wall in the Cornell defensive zone. Dartmouth’s Rob Smith and Joe Gaudet and Cornell sophomores Joe Scali and Justin Krueger were each assessed with fighting majors and game disqualifications, which would mandate an automatic suspension for the team’s next game.
As of last night, it was reported that both Scali and Krueger will not be allowed to play in the Cornell-B.U. matchup at Madison Square Garden next weekend.