October 17, 2010

Men’s Hockey Begins Season With Red/White Scrimmage

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Perhaps the tone was set before the puck was even dropped or the opening faceoff decided, when members of the Red and White began vehemently exchanging insults back and forth across the rink. Of course, we’re talking about the team bands, clad in their respective team colors and trading intermittent snippets of galvanizing songs and good-natured slander as they prepared for the annual Red and White Scrimmage, an intrasquad match that marks the start of the men’s hockey season.As the squads were presented before the match, there was a loud cheer from the crowd as freshman goaltender Andy Iles was announced as the starting goaltender for the White team. Iles, an Ithaca native, is considered a top goaltending prospect in the country and should be an integral part of Cornell’s hockey team for the next few years.The audience also warmly welcomed 12 members of the Ithaca Youth Hockey Association as they took to the ice, albeit with a few missteps here and there, to join the players as the national anthems played.  Proceeds from the night went to the IYHA, and many hockey parents could be seen enthusiastically cheering their kids on throughout the game. These miniature versions of their Cornellian counterparts would go on to share ice time with the men’s squads as the night progressed, competing in their game within a game with admirable intensity, highlighted by Olympic gold medal game-esque victory celebrations often spanning the length of the ice.The Red/White Scrimmage itself was an evenly-matched, well-played game highlighted by great speed and puck movement by both teams. The game’s intensity was present from the very start as the goalie for the Red, junior Michael Garman, was forced to make a great pad save less than 30 seconds into the match. His team soon took the lead on a shot from the blueline by sophomore defenseman Jarred Seymour, deflected into the net by sophomore forward Erik Axell.Physical play, which had not been a huge factor towards the start of the game, picked up mid-first period as sophomore Vince Mihalek crushed a Red player with a hard hit along the back boards. The White would go on to score the next three goals, two from close range and another by sophomore John Esposito, a beauty of a wrister into the top right of the net. The Red, however, would go on to tie the game at 3-3 before both teams headed to a full team shootout.Throughout the game, Red players Jarred Seymour and sophomore Braden Birch were particularly solid on defence, with Birch impressively breaking up a White 2-on-1 with great composure. White forward Esposito also stood out, consistently dangerous on the attack. And though neither goalie was particularly sharp, understandably in their first game of the season, they both got off to a great start in the shootout.After the first eight shooters failed to get the puck past the goalie, it was the Red who struck first as sophomore Chris Moulson slid the puck in through the five-hole and past Andy Iles. A few consecutive goals by the White gave them a 4-2 edge late in the shootout, until Jarred Seymour, with the Red’s last two attempts, scored two consecutive times to lift the Red to a tie with the White in the shootout.And the neutral result seemed appropriate on a night when most of the excitement hinged less so on the score of the game and more on the experience of the game itself. Aside from the battle between the Red and White from the men’s hockey team, there was the constant battle between the two teams’ bands, and the game played by the young ones from the Ithaca Junior Hockey Association. The crowd was loving the electric pace of hockey, but also warm atmosphere of the crowd, the enthusiastic hostility of the bands and the great sense of unity and community which, despite the multiple dimensions of competition present that night, characterized the scrimmage.This is what the event is known for, and as the night concluded and the Cornell men’s team united to salute the crowd, all present at the Red and White Scrimmage were reminded why a Cornell hockey game remains one of the best events in town; even in an intrasquad match, there was an undeniable sense of unity as Cornell hockey fans, and even as members of the Ithaca community, all coming together at Lynah Rink to welcome the start of another great season of Cornell men’s hockey.

Original Author: Minnia Feng