February 28, 2010

Men’s Hockey Skates to Second-Place in ECAC Standings

Print More

On a weekend when the sports world was focused on the hockey greats playing in the Canada-USA gold medal game, the focus at Lynah Rink was on honoring the legends of Cornell hockey. With a 4-1 win over Union on Friday and a 1-1 tie with RPI on Saturday, this year’s edition of the Red finished the season in second place in the ECAC and will have a bye in the first round of the playoffs as it seeks to cement its own spot in the Cornell hockey traditions.

Prior to Friday’s game, Cornell legends Ken Dryden ’69 and Joe Nieuwendyk had their numbers retired and jerseys raised to the rafters in an emotional and crowd-pleasing ceremony. As the jerseys were being hoisted up to the ceiling, the Lynah Faithful erupted in a deafening “Let’s Go Red!” chant that filled the arena.

When the puck was dropped, Cornell wasted no time in setting the tone for the evening. Cornell converted on its first and only power play of the game, just 2:42 into the first period. The power-play unit was working it around at the point, when senior defenseman Brendon Nash fed the puck to his brother Riley Nash, who then hammered a hard slap-shot waist-high on the short-side that beat Union’s freshman goalie Keith Kinkaid.

However, when senior co-captain Colin Greening was whistled for a hooking penalty at 13:30, Union capitalized on its own first power-play opportunity. Senior forward Mario Valery-Trabucco came bursting through the Cornell zone, fell to his knees and sent the puck to the front of the net as he was sliding along the ice. The puck hit off of a Cornell defender and got by senior goaltender Ben Scrivens. In tying the game at 1-1, Trabucco scored his 20th goal of the season.

“It just bounced off someone,” Scrivens said. “Those things happen all the time. It’s one of those things that happens in games, so that one goes in, but we got lucky when it went off the post and didn’t go in at the end of the second.”

In the second frame, sophomore forward Locke Jillson escaped on a rush just after a Cornell penalty expired. Jillson collected the puck in the neutral zone and then skated by a couple of Union defenders in on goal. Jillson appeared to whiff on his shot attempt, but still managed to send the puck low glove-side and Kinkaid was unable to react on time. Jillson’s goal put the Red up, 2-1, at 5:32 of the second period.

“Big play by Locke Jillson coming off of the short-hand, coming down, I honestly think he was probably going shelf and he fanned on it and it went underneath,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86.

Jillson’s goal would prove to be the game-winner, but not before Cornell would add to its lead. At 12:41 of the second, junior forward Tyler Roeszler made a beautiful pass across the crease to find classmate Joe Devin wide open for a one-timer that Devin easily sent by Kinkaid. Cornell carried its 3-1 lead into the third period, and Sean Collins added an empty-net goal to cement his squad’s 4-1 victory. Despite being outshot 30-16, Cornell cruised to victory.

“I thought our guys did a good job managing the game,” Schafer said. “Getting outshot 30-16 can be misleading in the course of the game.

Scrivens made 29 saves to earn the win.

“Our defensemen always do a good job of clearing out the front and if there is traffic they always do a good job of blocking the hard shots that are coming in,” Scrivens said. “So the ones that got through I felt I had a good look at.”

On Saturday, the blast from the Red’s illustrious past continued as members of the 1970 NCAA National Championship team were honored on the ice during the first intermission. This year marks the 40th anniversary of that team’s unbeaten, untied, National Championship season. Saturday was also Senior Night, as fans paid tribute to the Red’s six seniors: Greening, Blake Gallagher, Joe Scali, Brendon Nash, Krueger and Scrivens. Saturday night marked the last regular-season home game for the class of 2010.

“Everything has gone by way too fast for me,” Gallagher said. “I wish I could rewind time or slow it down a little bit, so I could enjoy it more … it has been really special for me, ever since I’ve stepped on campus… something I will never forget, for sure.”

Cornell opened the scoring just seven minutes into the game when freshman defenseman Nick D’Agostino sent a shot towards the net. Standing by the crease on the short-side, sophomore forward Sean Collins managed to redirect the puck amidst a crowd in front of RPI goalie Allen York. After the referees reviewed the play for several minutes, Cornell was awarded the goal.

During a Cornell power play, Gallagher was sent to the penalty box for high sticking. Just 20 seconds later, junior Mike Devin was whistled for a four minute double-minor for slashing and cross-checking. With Devin joining Gallagher in the box, RPI went on a 4-on-3 power play. After the ensuing faceoff, Jerry D’Amigo passed the puck back to junior forward Chase Polacek, who then sent the puck on net. Polacek’s shot deflected off of a Cornell player’s skate and made its way by Scrivens, knotting the game at 1-1.

Neither team was able to score for the remainder of the game, despite RPI pulling its goalie with 10 seconds left. Brendon Nash sent the puck the length of the ice to try to score, but the puck slid just inches by the net.

“We almost scored,” Schafer said. “That would have been really interesting. We fired the length of the ice and it just missed going into the net.”

The game was marked by an extraordinary number of stoppages of play. In addition to the reviewed goal and the referees stopping the game to make Greening zipper up his pants, 17 penalties were given for a total of 45 penalty minutes. Scrivens made 24 saves and York steered away 28 shots for the tie.

“It was an absolutely wacky game,” Schafer said.

Original Author: Mitchell Drucker