March 10, 2008

Senior Co-Captain Sawada Leads Red Past Dartmouth Into Second Round

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For Raymond Sawada, it’s easy beating Green. After only tallying four goals in the regular season, the senior co-captain erupted for five total goals in this weekend’s three-game ECAC Hockey first-round series against Dartmouth, including two last night at Lynah Rink. Sawada’s outburst last night helped lead the men’s hockey team off the brink of elimination and past the Green, 6-0. With the win, the Red won the three-game series, 2-1, and advanced to the ECAC Hockey quarterfinals next weekend at Union.
“I don’t think there was much difference [this weekend] other than me not trying to think about it,” Sawada said. “There were some great passes, and catching the goalie looking somewhere else.”
Perhaps Sawada’s biggest contribution came with one minute left in the first period. Cornell was trying to regain the series momentum after Saturday night’s 5-3 loss. With the score knotted at 0 near the end of the first period, and Cornell on the power play, fellow senior co-captain Topher Scott had the puck immediately to the left of Dartmouth senior netminder Mike Devine. Scott found Sawada in the slot, and Sawada put the puck past Devine to give the Red a lead it would not relinquish.
“[Sawada] came to play all weekend,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “You want to go into this weekend as a senior and play your best hockey, and really remember your last game at Lynah. It’s such a special place to play.”
Sawada’s first goal gave Cornell a push into the second period, where it broke the game open with three goals, including tallies by sophomore Brendon Nash, classmate Blake Gallagher and Sawada’s second goal of the night. The Red also received two insurance goals in the third period by freshmen Mike Devin and Patrick Kennedy. Junior Michael Kennedy and sophomore co-alternate captain Colin Greening each had two assists apiece.
With the game all but over at the end of the third period, Schafer put out his four seniors — Chris Fontas, co-alternate captain Doug Krantz, Sawada and Scott — for their last shift at Lynah Rink. Sawada also unsuccessfully attempted to net his first career hat trick late in the third.
“I actually was passing back and forth with Riley Nash, and I thought he just wanted a better lane, but he kept giving me the puck,” Sawada said. “I didn’t realize that we were trying to get the hat trick, but it’s not that big of a deal.”
On the other side of the ice, sophomore Ben Scrivens made 32 saves for Cornell to clinch the shutout. He also recorded his first career point, an assist on Sawada’s second goal.
“The first two games, there were a couple of deflections that caught me off guard,” Scrivens said. “I thought I saw the puck well the whole weekend. After [Saturday’s] game, I wanted to really focus on rebound control and where I was placing pucks.”
Cornell was able to kill off all six Dartmouth power plays, including two 5-on-3 opportunities. The Red checking line of Fontas, sophomore Joe Scali and junior Tyler Mugford was also able to hold the Green’s star duo of J.T. Wyman and Nick Johnson scoreless over the entire three-game series.
“Joe and Chris and Tyler just really relished that role,” Schafer said. “Not just them, but the defensemen did a good job on those guys. They are talented players and they are tough to handle … a tremendous job by those guys.”
The game was particularly rough, especially during the second period, when Dartmouth’s Joe Gaudet hit junior Taylor Davenport in the head, knocking him to the ice and out of the game. Cornell junior Evan Barlow then leveled Gaudet in retaliation, the culmination of the bad blood normally accrued over the course of the three-game set.