November 24, 2008

Nash’s Two Goals Lead Red Past Crimson

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Riley Nash could not have picked a better time to break his scoring drought. The sophomore center buried his first two goals of the early 2008-09 campaign — helping Cornell edge Harvard, 2-1, in front of 4,267 raucous Cornell supporters Friday night at Lynah Rink. The victory snapped the Crimson’s four-game winning streak in the bitter Ithaca-Cambridge rivalry.
“It’s nice to see Riley score a couple of goals and relieve some of the pressure on him,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “There’s no question he was pressing. I think any offensive player takes a lot of pride in wanting to score goals. He’s had his chances and tonight it was nice for him to get us a couple [goals].”
[img_assist|nid=33828|title=Two heads are better than one|desc=Junior co-captain Colin Greening (center) and classmate Blake Gallagher (27) power the puck into Harvard’s zone Friday night.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The No. 18 Crimson (4-3-2, 4-3-2 ECAC Hockey) captured an early 1-0 advantage 5:41 into the contest, as sophomore left winger Michael Biega pilfered the puck away from junior netminder Ben Scrivens behind the net and deposited it inside the right post. Scrivens initially left the crease to make a play on the puck, which was dumped into the Cornell zone by freshman defenseman Peter Starrett, but he was unable to recover before Biega lit the lamp. It was Biega’s second tally of the season.
“It was kind of a flukey goal,” said senior co-alternate captain Jared Seminoff. “I don’t really know what happened behind the net. There was a little confusion to what happened, but everyone held their composure quite well. There was a lot of game left, so we didn’t really get too stressed by the situation.”
The No. 14 Red (4-0-2, 4-0-2) responded less than four minutes later, when junior co-captain Colin Greening and freshman right winger Locke Jillson scuffled to earn possession of the puck in the right corner before it jarred loose to Nash, who ripped a wrist shot from the slot to erase the 1-0 deficit.
“You’re always gripping the stick a little tight, especially when you haven’t scored in a couple of games,” Nash said. “Me and Greening finally had a good game where we were reading each other better.”
In the second stanza, Cornell proved why a good offense is perhaps the best defense, applying constant pressure on freshman goaltender Matt Hoyle, who was named ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week before the contest. Cornell outshot Harvard, 15-4, in the period and finally cracked the Crimson’s defense — Nash registered the game-winner with 3:09 remaining in the second period.
The sophomore capitalized on the Red’s fifth power play opportunity of the game as a flurry of shots from the left side of the crease were initially denied by Hoyle before Nash deposited the loose puck off a skate and into the back of the net.
“I got the rebound and [Harvard defenseman Alex] Biega was hacking and whacking down there, so I just spun around and tried to jam it home,” Nash said. “Maybe it went off [goalie Matt Hoyle’s] pad and off Greening’s skate and in. I think it went off Greening’s skate and a little bouncy ball in there.”
There was also some controversy in the second period, as Greening proved lighting the lamp does not always necessarily equate to scoring a goal. The goal light came on in the 12th minute of play when Greening tucked in his own rebound off of the left crossbar. The puck landed on the goal line and bounced back into the crease.
Although the goal judge initially signified that it was a goal, Greening’s apparent tally was immediately waved off by referee Tim Kotyra, who was positioned to the left of the goal. After a 10 minute conference amongst the officiating crew, the referee signaled no goal.
In the third period, the Red remained on the offensive, outshooting the opposition by a 12-3 margin. With eight minutes remaining, Greening captured a loose puck resulting from a defensive-zone faceoff and streaked down the ice on a breakaway. However, Greening’s attempt for an insurance goal was thwarted by Hoyle as he used his right pad to deflect the puck.
“We generated a lot of good scoring chances,” Schafer said. “The power play got it going for us tonight to go up 2-1. Penalty killing did a solid job with the exception in the second period getting run around a little bit. … That’s the kind of hockey I love to play — aggressive hockey and get up and down the ice, but at the same time being very, very accountable and responsible, and I thought we did that tonight.”
After the game, Seminoff shed some light on his thoughts as a fish was tossed onto the ice in the final minutes of regulation. In such instances, the referee can choose to assess a penalty to the home team. With the slimmest of leads, Cornell would have faced a tough task in killing a sixth power play, especially since the Crimson had elected to pull its goalie in favor of an extra attacker.
Displaying the wily leadership skills that earned Seminoff the “A” on his sweater, the defenseman decided to take matters into his own hands, literally. He scooped up the rotting carcass and clandestinely sequestered the evidence.
“I figured the crowd [definitely saw me holding the fish],” Seminoff said. “I didn’t know what to do really. I was going to go get it and then I wasn’t because it was disgusting. Then, I realized it was in a bag, so I was like ‘Okay, I’ll try to do that,’ but I didn’t know if the ref saw me carrying it. … It was all over my jersey and kind of gross, but I figured it was the right thing to do at the time.”
While Harvard has circled Feb. 14, 2009 on its schedule as the next chapter in the revival of The Game, Cornell and Seminoff will long remember this battle as the one that almost got away.