The reigning ECAC champion men’s hockey team does not settle for any performance that displays less than its complete and total effort. Thus, after the team defeated Quebec at Trois-Rivieres last Thursday night in its first exhibition game, 6-3, the players focused on what they needed to improve upon rather than just being content with the victory. The work the decorated Cornell squad put in during the short turnover to the next game really shined through on Saturday night, when the Red took on the U.S. National U-18 team. This time, the Red not only scored six goals once again, but it also managed to shut out the visiting team with an improved defensive line on the debut night of freshman goalie Andy lles.
With just 43 seconds into the game, junior center Sean Collins scored on U-18 goalie Matt McNeely with assists from senior right wing Joe Devin and junior defenseman Keir Ross.
This goal was followed by another puck sent flying past McNeely by freshman left defenseman Kirill Gotovets, who accepted a pass from classmate Rodger Craig within six minutes later. Later in the game, Craig was marked down with a goal of his own, coming from an assist by Gotovets. The goals scored by the duo were the respective firsts scored at Lynah for each player.
“The young guys played well [Saturday] and they played better [Saturday] than they did on Thursday, so it was a good start,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86.
Going into period two with a 2-0 lead, the Red held a much different attitude than it did against QATR. On Thursday, Cornell led, 5-0, going into the second, at which point it was scored on three times in a row without immediate response. Saturday, instead, saw another two notched by Cornell during the second period, and a similar two goals scored during the final period.
“It was pretty easy to learn from Thursday’s game,” Devin said. “And coach kept harping on us to stay on them and [not] sit back.”
Devin was a huge contributor to the game, responsible for two of the last four goals and another assist in this span, making for four points in the entire game.
Other contributors on the night were senior forwards Tyler Roeszler and Patrick Kennedy along with freshman center Dustin Mowrey, who recorded one point apiece. Collins added another two assists for the night while Ross managed a second of his own.
But one of the highlights of the game was undoubtedly the performance that Ithaca native Iles was able to show for his first time in net on Cornell’s side.
“I could feel all sorts of butterflies for him,” Devin said. “He did an unbelievable job. He rose to the challenge.”
Iles is a former member of the U-18 team, who played against the Red in this very rink a year ago and won. Now, with Iles in the Red zone, there was no stopping the freshman from playing exceptionally.
Iles posted 30 saves on the night and helped keep the visitors from managing any goals past him, even on the power play. Throughout all 60 minutes of play he kept a strong stance without letting his guard down.
“[He made] a big save with six seconds left in the game and we took the penalty, and I’m like ‘dang’, you know? ‘Now they’re going to be in our zone on a power play’. But he deserved a shutout … it was good to see for him,” Schafer said.
And he managed just that, earning chants of his name by the Lynah Faithful in attendance.
“Getting your name chanted at the end really shows how good the team played,” Iles said. “We all had fun out there and it was good to get the season going with a good start in two exhibition games and I can’t wait to get the regular season going and keep rolling through.”
The team is excited to take on its first season game on Friday night at 7 p.m. when it hosts the University of New Hampshire.
“They’re a good program, a good team. We’re disappointed with how things worked out last year; it left a bitter place in everybody’s mouth. They’re ranked high right now and we’re ready for them,” Schafer said.
Original Author: Reena Gilani