February 18, 2008

Cornell surrenders two-goal cushion in

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What started as one bad weekend against Clarkson and St. Lawrence turned into a three-game losing streak Friday night, when Union (13-10-5, 8-5-4 ECAC) pulled off a come-from-behind 3-2 win against the Red (11-10-3, 9-7-1 ECAC Hockey) at Lynah Rink.
“It’s just one of those things where it’s been happening all year and we’ve talked about and talked about it,” said senior co-captain Topher Scott. “We talk about it all the time but it’s a fact of doing it. It’s time we start walking the walk and become a top-tier team in this league because we are. We’re just not playing like it. It’s not the whole game. It’s just for some reason or another we are letting up. It’s got to stop.”
[img_assist|nid=27903|title=Trading Places|desc=After sophomore Blake Gallagher (27) put the Red on the scoreboard first in a loss to Union, Cornell returned to fourth place with a win over Rensselaer.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]In spite of the loss, the first period got off to a promising start. Although both teams battled hard from the moment the puck dropped, the Red seemed to be in control of play, forcing Union to give up a five-on-three power play less than six minutes into the game. However, the Red seemed to subtly set the tone for the game by failing to capitalize on the two-man advantage, an opportunity that did not present itself to the squad for the remainder of the evening. Still reeling from their third penalty, the Dutchmen couldn’t stop sophomore Blake Gallagher from notching the first tally off a pass from sophomore alternate captain Colin Greening, with just under two minutes to go in the period. Then, with just three seconds left in the first, Union received a bench minor for too many men, setting up the Red for a power play to start off the second period.
“We tried to have a light week this week and pulled way back on the reigns as far as practice and maybe that’s a mistake with this young team,” said head coach Mike Shafer ’86. “Maybe they need to be hit between the eyes all week. This time of year you try to give your guys fresh legs and keep them ready for the weekend, but obviously that didn’t work for us this week.”
Scott scored the second goal of the game with help from his linemate, senior co-captain Raymond Sawada and senior alternate captain Doug Krantz, giving Scott his 94th career point. With a dangerous two-goal lead, the Red began to succumb to a problem that has been plaguing it all season: losing focus. As the defense struggled to clear the puck out of the zone, the offense was limited to just nine shots in the second period, while the Dutchmen managed to fire off 13 shots at sophomore goalie Ben Scrivens. With three minutes left in the second, Union senior captain Matt Cook put the Dutchmen on the board off a pass from teammates Josh Coyle and Jason Walters.
“It’s a devastating loss. … Give Union credit. They raised their level and they got after it and worked extremely hard and competed really hard,” Shafer said. “We didn’t match their competitiveness at all from the second half of the game on. I’m very disappointed in the play of our team. … They had a lot of scoring chances in our offensive zone and our defensemen and down low forwards didn’t compete hard enough to control them and handle them. That’s a trademark of our team so its pretty disappointing to get beat that way.”
A sloppy start to the third period gave Union’s Cook an opportunity to score the tying goal. With the game on the line and time running out, frustration was mounting on the Red bench. Taking just six shots on the opposing goal, the Red appeared trapped in its defensive zone with anxious Dutchmen swarming the net. Union’s Andrew Buote capitalized on a defensive collapse, scoring the winning goal, which, at least temporarily, cost the Red its fourth-place spot in the ECAC standings.
“We have to have a short term memory,” Krantz said. “We have to put this behind us, but we have to learn our lesson sometime. It has to happen soon. We have five games left and right now we’re not in a first round bye and that’s not where we want to be. Union played well and came in and took it to us and now they are ahead of us. We need help so we have to win our five games and we have to stress the importance of the rest of these games.”