March 24, 2008

Red finishes season with win over Raiders, third place ECAC finish

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ALBANY, N.Y — The scoreboard might have said it was just a consolation game, but to the players and coaching staff of the men’s hockey team, it meant much more — a chance to officially say good-bye to the squad’s four seniors. Cornell was up to the task Saturday and showed it by beating Colgate, 4-2, giving the Red a third-place finish in ECAC Hockey.
“I was really proud of our guys,” said head coach Mike Schafer ‘86. “I talked to them earlier tonight about going out and playing, every time they pull on the jersey on over the shoulders, to play with pride. Even more important, I wanted them to play for the four seniors we have on our team. … They have had a tremendous career. They have been everything a coach can ask for, as far as commitment. … to being a better person, a better player.”
[img_assist|nid=28975|title=No consolation|desc=Sophomore Blake Gallagher (left) controls the puck. The Red controlled play in a 4-2 win over Colgate Saturday.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The team’s four seniors — Chris Fontas, co-alternate captain Doug Krantz, co-captain Raymond Sawada and co-captain Topher Scott — were able to win their final game in Cornell uniforms. Unless Clarkson or Princeton wins the NCAA Tournament, none of the other teams in ECAC Hockey will go out on a victory. Fontas had to leave the game before it was over, but after the final whistle, Krantz, Sawada and Scott huddled for a few minutes before leaving the ice for the final time.
“Ever since freshmen year, we have been so close a group and it has just grown over the four years to the point where we are like brothers,” Krantz said. “We know what buttons to push with each other. We cook dinners at home together. We live together. Those are friendships that we are going to carry with us long beyond our time here at Cornell. Obviously, it is something we are going to cherish. You can’t put into words how much these guys mean.”
Krantz and Sawada were each also able to score goals during the game. Krantz tallied Cornell’s first score in the first period, and Sawada’s goal gave the Red a 2-1 lead in the second. Scott recorded an assist on a goal by sophomore Justin Krueger.
Aside from Krantz, Sawada and Krueger, sophomore co-alternate captain Colin Greening scored Cornell’s fourth goal. Junior Michael Kennedy tallied three assists to lead the Red.
“Obviously, [a goal] is something you like to go out with,” Krantz said. “It will be a fond memory for me, something I will take with me. It was not the prettiest one, but they go in. They don’t ask how, they ask how many.”
Sophomore netminder Ben Scrivens made 22 saves to preserve the victory. Cornell’s penalty kill, which struggled in the ECAC semifinal loss to Harvard on Friday night, clamped down and killed off all six of Colgate’s power-play attempts.
“I thought we did a good job,” Kennedy said. “We definitely wanted to take away [Harvard’s Tyler] Burton. He is their main threat out there. It is just about getting up in guys’ faces and coming back and taking away the seam, pretty much the basic fundamentals of penalty killing.”
Late in the third period, with Cornell ahead comfortably, 4-1, Schafer replaced Scrivens with junior Dan DiLeo, who had never seen any action in his three years with the Red. Although DiLeo did give up a goal to senior Tyler Burton, he made three saves, including one on Burton in the slot.
“Dan is a great kid,” Schafer said. “He is a 4.0 student. … A lot of guys on our team that play a lot could take a lesson on how hard he works on the rink day-in and day-out. … We wanted to get him in just as a reward. … The games have been so tight all year long. We had opportunities that Ben had either had a shutout going, and you didn’t want to take that away from Ben in those situations. We haven’t had many blowouts, in the sense that we have had a comfortable lead. It was a great opportunity to get a very deserving kid an opportunity.”
In addition to DiLeo, three other players who had not yet played in the playoffs — freshmen Jordan Berk, Tyler Roeszler and Dan Nicholls — each were in the lineup against Colgate. The Raiders also had an abnormal lineup, as two regulars, senior Jesse Winchester and junior Tom Riley, were both scratched.