March 3, 2008

Weekend Brings Highs and Lows for M. Hockey

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Though the men’s hockey team endured a heartbreaking loss to Harvard the next day during an emotional Senior Night, the hallowed halls of Lynah gained some new legends Friday night in the Red’s 6-0 shutout against Dartmouth.
After Friday’s game, the Faithful wasn’t able to focus its cheers on one game hero. Senior co-captain Topher Scott became the 44th Cornellian to hit 100 career points, and sophomore co-alternate captain Colin Greening recorded the first Cornell hat trick since Matt Moulson’s ’06 on Feb. 19, 2005.
SLIDESHOW: Click to view a slideshow of the Harvard game!
“It feels good, but I don’t really think it’s that big of a deal,” Scott said. “We got the win, and that’s all that really matters. I think it was pretty special to have a shutout and another guy have a hat trick on the same night, because that’s what we’re about. We’re a team, and individual honors don’t mean anything. So it’s good to have some other guys step up and have their names cheered in the crowd as well.”
[img_assist|nid=28475|title=Green thumb|desc=In Friday’s win over Dartmouth, sophomore co-alternate captain Colin Greening netted the first Cornell hat trick since 2005.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Scott got the game puck, but there were several other standout individual performances. Sophomore goaltender Ben Scrivens recorded his third shutout of the season, and sophomore defenseman Brendon Nash posted career highs in assists and points, in addition to the intangible benefits of his physical role on the ice.
Cornell also got goals from sophomore defenseman Justin Krueger, freshman forward Riley Nash and senior co-captain Raymond Sawada.
“I think tonight is probably one of the better games we played all year,” Scott said. “We had everybody going, from the goaltender on out.”
The Red left any opening jitters behind by around the midway point of the first period. Greening got his first tally of the night at the 8:05 mark on a power play.
Cornell (14-12-3, 12-9-1 ECAC Hockey) went 3-for-4 for power plays on the night, while Dartmouth (11-14-4, 6-13-3) was scoreless on two opportunities. The home team’s first three goals came with the man advantage.
From the beginning of the second period, Cornell came out with the intent of sending a message even away from the puck. Krueger had a monster hit by the Dartmouth bench around four minutes in, one of the first of many by home team.
“We played physical, but we played disciplined,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “We knew that they had a very, very solid power play. I think they were seventh in the nation or something like that. … I wanted to play physical and we couldn’t take penalties against them, so I thought the guys did a good job of being aggressive but not being overaggressive.”
There was a particularly standout clash between the two team’s No. 24s early in the second period. As Dartmouth’s Evan Stephens was skating straight down the middle toward the Cornell goal, Brendon Nash laid down one of the hardest hits of the night — knocking Stephens backwards into the air.
“I saw him coming down, and he wasn’t expecting it at all,” Nash said, “so I just kind of stepped up and made sure he couldn’t get a shot through.”
From his position at the right faceoff circle a few minutes past the period halfway mark, junior Michael Kennedy caught sight of Krueger open near the left post. Though Krueger’s quick, perfectly-timed shot put the Red ahead 2-0, most of the ensuing crowd attention was not on the goal itself; it was on the second assist.
Scott’s pass to Michael Kennedy gave the senior co-captain his 100th point. It was fitting for Scott to pass the milestone at that moment — hustling in the corner to get the puck out to Kennedy was a representation of Scott’s scrappy playing style.
The goal and century club celebration seemed to break the Green. With almost six minutes remaining in the period, Riley Nash had a shot straight-on that seemed to have been saved but slipped through the Green goaltender’s glove.
Brendon Nash set the tone for the Red with his aggressive attitude, keying the defensive effort. When he got the puck at the right faceoff circle in the Dartmouth zone soon after his brother’s goal, for example, Brendon Nash skated in and almost created the fourth goal on his own. As it happened, it was an omen for the very next play.
With less than three minutes left in the period, Greening had Dartmouth netminder Mike Devine out of position, crumpled in the right corner, as the Red forward skated toward the left post and put the puck past Devine. Brendon Nash’s second assist gave him a new career high in assists and points.
After a sloppy start in the third, the supercharged Red was running on all cylinders. The Green got two opportunities on the power play in the period, but the Red team defense held.
“I think everyone [on defense] played solid together,” Brendon Nash said. “Krueger and [junior Taylor Davenport] play well together, and [junior Jared Seminoff] and [senior co-alternate captain Doug] Krantz, they shut down the other team’s top-5 and didn’t really give them anything tonight.”
Scrivens was also was a big part of the defensive effort, finishing with 31 saves and his third shutout of the season.
“Ben played solid in the course of the game,” Schafer said, “especially in the third period when we gave up a couple chances, he was very good responding for the shutout. … Especially in tight around the net, he was solid. On plays that came from the goal line to the front of the net, he did a good solid job of taking away the lower part of the net.”
Even after Joe Grossman took Mike Devine’s place between the posts for Dartmouth, the Red machine could not be stopped. 5:49 into the period, Sawada sent the puck into the right corner off another excellent pass by Michael Kennedy.
And after a Dartmouth turnover, as the crowd was still cheering for Sawada’s tally, Greening sent home a slapshot from the left circle 17 seconds after the last goal for a 6-0 lead that would be the final score for the night.
“[The last time I got a hat trick was] maybe in Pee Wees,” Greening said. “It’s been quite a while, so it’s pretty special, I have to say.”
From then on, it was smooth sailing for the Red.
“In the locker room after the second before we were talking about how we wanted to build off the third period and for [Harvard Saturday],” Scrivens said. “I think we played really well. We played a full 60. Every line was contributing, on the defensive side of the puck and the offensive side, so it’s a huge confidence booster I guess, but we had the confidence before. We know how we can play if we really want to.”