January 19, 2009

Men’s Hockey Tops RPI, RPI Rankings With Wins

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­Cornell, ranked fifth in the nation, earned a pair of road victories this weekend at Union and Rensselaer to surge past Princeton into sole possession of first place atop the ECAC ledger. Televised nationally on Friday evening, Cornell snapped Union’s three-game winning streak, downing the Dutchmen, 4-1. The Red completed its third four-point weekend against ECAC competition with a 3-0 shutout over the Engineers Saturday night.[img_assist|nid=34188|title=Knuckle puck|desc=Sophomore Riley Nash has two goals and two assists to lead the Red’s offense over the weekend.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Sophomore defenseman Mike Devin broke the scoreless tie against Union 4:40 into the contest on the power play. Senior forward Evan Barlow registered the Red’s (13-1-3, 8-0-2 ECAC Hockey) second power play goal less than five minutes later to stake Cornell to an early 2-0 advantage. Although the goal was Barlow’s second of the season, it was his defensive prowess that earned a spot on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10 plays. The Strathmore, Alberta native saved a goal with 11:56 remaining in the first period on a delayed penalty call. Barlow deftly dove headfirst to sweep away an errant pass prior to its entering the vacated Cornell cage as Scrivens had left for the extra attacker.
After the Dutchmen (12-9-1, 5-5-0 ECAC Hockey) sliced the lead to 2-1 in the second stanza, the Red responded at the 12:14 mark of the third period on freshman forward Sean Collins’ first goal of his career. Collins pushed in his own rebound underneath the pads of sophomore netminder Corey Milan to regain the two-goal advantage.
Sophomore forward Riley Nash closed the scoring at 4-1 as he recorded his third point of the evening with 2:08 remaining in regulation on an empty net goal when Union pulled Milan in favor of an extra skater.
Junior goaltender Ben Scrivens notched 28 saves, earning his 12th victory of the season, while Milan deflected 14 shots. Cornell finished the game two-for-four on the power play, while holding Union to one goal in seven man-advantage opportunities.
Against Rensselaer (5-16-2, 4-6-1 ECAC Hockey), junior co-captain Colin Greening lit the lamp a mere 37 seconds into the tilt with his team-leading eighth goal of the season. Riley Nash and sophomore forward Patrick Kennedy each tacked on insurance goals as the Red cruised to its fifth straight victory. Scrivens posted his fifth shutout of the season as he lowered his league leading goals against average to 1.25 per game.
Nash recorded his second goal of the weekend at the 11:59 mark of the second stanza as Barlow whistled a shot from the point that deflected off of Nash before crossing the goal line.
Kennedy buried his third goal of the season with 7:02 remaining in regulation on a wrister from the high slot.
Scrivens gloved and paddled away all 22 shots while Rensselaer goaltender Mathias Lange stopped 16 shots. Cornell finished the night 1-for-4 on the power play with nine shots. The Red’s penalty kill remained sterling Saturday evening, denying the Engineers on all five power play opportunities while permitting a mere five shots on goal.
The contribution of the Cornell defense must be highlighted as the penalty killers denied 11-of-12 extra man opportunities this weekend. The Red raised its penalty kill success rate to a robust 90.1 percent.
Cornell stands alone as the only unbeaten team in the ECAC, moving two points ahead in the standings over Princeton, as the Tigers were idle this weekend.