February 2, 2009

M. Hockey Falls to St. Lawrence in Rout

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At one point in the movie The Replacements, quarterback Shane Falco tries to explain why his team crumbled in a disastrous 1996 Sugar Bowl game, taking Falco’s fictional football career down with it: “You’re playing and you think everything is going fine, but then one thing goes wrong and another and another, and you try to fight back, but the harder you fight, the deeper you sink. ’Til you can’t move, can’t breathe, cause you’re in over your head. Like quicksand.”
Though a regular season matchup with North Country rival St. Lawrence isn’t quite up to the pressure level of the Sugar Bowl, the men’s hockey team found itself in a similar predicament Friday night in Canton, N.Y. — ultimately falling to the Saints, 8-1.
When Brandon Bollig scored for St. Lawrence just 1:12 into the contest, however, it was all right for No. 4 Cornell to call it a slow start and move on. The Red (14-3-4, 9-2-3 ECAC Hockey) still had plenty of time for adjustment, for a burst of offense, for something to turn the tide against St. Lawrence (14-10-2, 6-6-2).
[img_assist|nid=34640|title=Just one goal|desc=Sophomore forward Riley Nash (14) scored the Red’s lone goal in the 8-1 loss to St. Lawrence on Friday.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The bad luck kept on building for the visitors, however, and before the Red knew it, the squad was on its way to suffering the program’s worst loss in over a decade.
“We were completely flat,” said senior co-captain Michael Kennedy. “St. Lawrence really dictated the play and took it to us.”
“[We didn’t] show up,” added sophomore forward Riley Nash.
Nash got the Red on the board in the third period — his ninth goal of the season — but not before Cornell had fallen into a tough 4-0 hole. In the second period alone, St. Lawrence outshot Cornell, 17-3.
Even measures of last resort didn’t work — 9:21 into second period, head coach Mike Schafer ’86 substituted freshman goaltender Mike Garman for junior starter Ben Scrivens, who had been nearly untouchable this season before the team came to Appleton Arena.
At first, the change seemed to help. Garman stopped all six shots that came at him before the end of the period.
Down four goals and entering the final stanza, the Red quickly went to work. Junior co-captain Colin Greening got the puck away from his opponent in the corner and passed to Riley Nash, who was able to solve Saints netminder Alex Petizian for Cornell’s first score of the night 27 seconds into the period.
Less than five minutes later, however, the Saints’ Travis Vermeulen crushed the rising hopes of the visiting team with a quickly executed tally of his own. St. Lawrence’s Derek Keller notched an empty-netter at the 7:35 mark after another last-ditch effort at sparking the Red offense.
“They came right back, that kind of deflated our enthusiasm,” Nash said. “It was uphill from there. When it was 4-1, we had a lot of momentum, but they came right back and scored.”
With four more goals scored by the Saints in the third, the rest of the period became an exercise in frustration for the Red. Of the 67 penalty minutes the two combined teams collected Friday night, 39 of them came in the third period.
About eight minutes in, Kennedy was assessed with a five-minute major for charging along with simultaneous roughing calls on his sophomore brother Patrick and the Saints’ Jeff Caister.
“We got a little undisciplined,” the elder Kennedy said, “myself included. There’s a fine line between controlling your emotions and not controlling your emotions, and as a team we crossed that line [on Friday].”
And as the emotion piled up, so did the penalties. The Red’s penalty-kill unit had its work cut out for it, as the Saints had 11 power play opportunities in all. St. Lawrence converted on three of those man advantages, two of them in the decisive second period.
“We were killing penalties for the majority of the game and couldn’t really get our game going,” Nash said.