February 2, 2009

Defensive Revival for M. Hockey Results in Tie

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After relinquishing a season-high eight goals Friday night to St. Lawrence, the Cornell defense put the rest of ECAC Hockey on notice that this defensive debacle was just a fluke with the Red’s sixth shutout of the year on Saturday night. Unfortunately for the Red, leading the nation in this category does not guarantee a victory when the offense takes the weekend off. This is exactly what transpired Saturday evening at Cheel Arena as Cornell and Clarkson skated to a lackluster 0-0 overtime tie.
Saturday night marks the first time this year that the Red was unable to rebound with a victory following a loss in its previous outing.
“We wanted the two points [from Clarkson],” said senior co-captain Michael Kennedy, “but our effort and physical play, discipline and work ethic was definitely a problem [this weekend]. It was a complete turnaround from Friday.”
The game was relatively penalty-free as Cornell (14-3-4, 9-2-3 ECAC Hockey) only managed three shots on three power plays. Clarkson (7-14-5, 5-7-2) was likewise short-circuited and failed to capitalize on two power plays while launching a mere four shots on goal.
“We did a good job keeping our penalties down [against Clarkson],” Kennedy said. “We wanted to place a big emphasis on physical play [at Clarkson]. We didn’t have a lot of hits at St. Lawrence, and … that’s a big part of our game and how we’re successful. … Tonight we were a lot more physical … and that’s how we wear teams down.”
The Golden Knights’ freshman goaltender Paul Karpowich was stellar between the pipes. The netminder posted his first career shutout, picking up a pair of key saves on the Red’s first extra man advantage at the 15:00 mark of the first period. Karpowich was able to glove a quick wrist shot by Kennedy, stonewalling Cornell on one of the best scoring opportunities the Red would see all night.
Kennedy was denied once again on the Red’s second power play opportunity 5:27 into the second stanza. His shot from the top of the faceoff circle to Karpowich’s left was deflected into the netting behind the goal.
“Both teams were really tight defensively,” said sophomore center Riley Nash. “Both teams were really well-disciplined on the defensive end. Even in the neutral zone, both teams were not giving up odd-man rushes. There were not many chances. And when we did get a shot off, [the defenders] were there [to stop it and were there] cleaning up the rebounds.”
Midway through the second period Clarkson went on its first power play of the night as junior goalie Ben Scrivens was able to deny senior forward Shea Guthrie from close range, maintaining the scoreless tie.
However, perhaps the Golden Knights’ best scoring opportunity presented itself five minutes into the third period as freshman forward Louke Oakley was denied twice by Scrivens. Scrivens blocked Oakley’s initial shot off of his left leg and gobbled up the second shot with his outstretched glove arm.
It was just the fourth time, and coincidentally the second time this season, in Cornell history that a game ended in a 0-0 tie. Scrivens rebounded with a spotless performance against Clarkson after having been pulled Friday night for permitting four goals midway through the second period at St. Lawrence. The Cornell goaltender was credited with 34 saves en route to his 11th career shutout while Karpowich denied 27 shots.
“I don’t think my class has ever won up here,” Kennedy said. “I don’t know why, to be honest. They’re two tough rinks. I don’t really have something to pinpoint it on. … Hopefully, the next classes after us can get a few wins [here] down the road.”
Cornell’s disappointing upstate road trip permitted Yale to catch the Red in the ECAC standings. The Bulldogs’ victories this weekend against Princeton and Quinnipiac fueled their rise to the top of the conference standings alongside Cornell.