November 14, 2010

Men’s Hockey Falls to Princeton After Dramatic Play to Overtime

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For Cornell’s hockey team, a number of things seemed to go wrong at Lynah Rink on Saturday night. As it hosted the Princeton Tigers (3-3, 3-1 ECAC Hockey) the squad was privy to a variety of happenings that are otherwise uncommon –– the Red (2-4, 2-2 ECAC Hockey) did not generate strong enough play during the first period, a rogue puck sent a girl in the stands out with the EMS (this occurring the night after head coach Mike Schafer ’86 left the game due to an injury from a stick) and the scoreboard stopped working during a Red penalty kill at the end of the third. Whether or not any of these factors influenced the results of the night is up for debate, but the statistics are not. Cornell eventually fell to Princeton, 2-1, in an overtime that came after a dramatic last-minute regulation goal by senior defenseman Mike Devin.

The lineup on Saturday night proved to be slightly different than the one present on Friday. Because of the tremendous effort demonstrated by both goalies, senior Mike Garman and freshman Andy Iles, Schafer has continued to alternate the two as starters in net, so Iles was the one between the pipes against Princeton contrasting Garman’s presence the night before. Additionally, the regular starting lineup saw the absence of the power defenseman from Friday –– sophomore Nick D’Agostino –– as the 2008 seventh round NHL draft pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins was out sick. Classmate Jarred Seymour took D’Agostino’s spot for the first Ivy League game of the season.

During the first period, neither team was really able to keep control of the puck as possession fluctuated between both sides and a lot of action was seen at the center of the rink. Still, the Tigers’ offense contributed one and a half as many attempts as did the Red’s with the overall shot count coming to 27-18, 15-9 on target. Of the nine on goal shots that Princeton made, Iles was able to stop all but one that came late in the period. Princeton’s Eric Meland capitalized on a power-play chance at 17:50, which came just four seconds after a boarding penalty was called on sophomore forward Vince Mihalek, with some coordinated puck work with teammate Michael Sdao right off of the face-off. The period concluded in the Tigers’ favor, 1-0, as the two teams headed to the locker rooms.

“[An opposing team’s first goal] in our rink is unacceptable … [Princeton] set up the rest of the game,” Schafer said. “We didn’t set the tempo, didn’t set the way we wanted to play in the first period –– something that we talked about an awful lot but we’ve got to get through our guys’ heads.”

The coaches must have gotten it through the players’ heads during the break before the second, as Cornell came out like the winning team it was the night before for the last 40 minutes of the regulation game. The Red generated more shots on goal this period than the Tigers did, 11-10, and took one fewer penalty than the Tigers’ three. Both goalkeepers remained highly alert, however, preventing any score-changing plays. This was especially seen with less than two minutes left in the period, when back-to-back Princeton attempts were stopped by Iles; the first including a shot and then a rebound stopped by a then stickless Cornell netminder, followed by a stop of an attempted shot from Princeton’s Taylor Fedun breakaway.

“Andy’s been playing great,” Mike Devin said. “Both Andy and Garman playing great, that’s why they’ve been switching that out.”

Iles top performance continued into the third, another period in which he would not let up a goal despite the Tigers’ lead in shot attempts in it, 29-16. The seemingly dominating Princeton offense in this part of the game could somewhat be attributed to the five minor penalties that Cornell took, sending the Tigers to as many extra-man opportunities including a 3-on-4 during one of the three penalties they took.

“It was difficult for both teams. The five power plays … we had to kill in the third period, you can’t come back in that sort of situation. For the penalty killing it’s a lot of credit to what they did,” Schafer said.

Indeed, the penalty kill unit lived up to its reputation of being effective, especially when senior forward and co-captain Patrick Kennedy sent in what could have been conceived as a short-handed goal. When senior forward Tyler Roeszler was called out for a two minute roughing penalty at 10:34, Kennedy drove the puck into the Tigers’ defensive zone and sent it slightly above the Princeton goalie’s head within the cage, but whether it actually was in or bounced off of the other crossbar remains a mystery. Ultimately, with no official by the goal, the shot was marked as no goal, much to the Red’s dismay.

“Our guys thought it was middle bar,” Schafer said. “The disappointing part about that call is the icing with the new hybrid rule … we were under a breakaway and the linesmen call it out … that was the kind of night it was, it was inexcusable that we screw up that kind of rule in a critical time of game.”

Still, the Red chugged on in hopes of the equalizer. Even in the last five minutes, when the scoreboard went awry and the countdowns to the end of the period and the last Cornell penalty kill were spoken aloud by the announcer, and a situation of chaos could have been created, the team powered through. Then, all of its efforts paid off when Mike Devin, receiving a puck from freshman forward Dustin Mowrey and junior forward Sean Collins off of a face-off, sent it into Princeton’s net, blind to whether he actually scored or not.

“I knew [time] was running low, I had no idea if [the puck went in on time],” Devin said.

Sure enough, he had flicked it in successfully with only 8.2 seconds to go, propelling the games into overtime and preventing a shutout game for the Tigers.

Unfortunately, offensive momentum by Princeton got a puck past Iles at 2:35 into the post regulation, and ended the game, 2-1.

Still, Cornell was able to prove that it could fight hard and make a comeback, and that is exactly what it did during the dramatic end of the normal 60 game minutes. Looking forward, the team will try to make sure it doesn’t have another blimp of a first period that got it off to a slow start.

“We didn’t show up for the first period, that’s pretty evident. We didn’t come ready to play, we didn’t come ready to battle, and they took it to us in the first 20 minutes and then we kind of realized what was going on … we didn’t play the full 60 minutes and that’s what you need to play in this league, in hockey,” Kennedy said.

Original Author: Reena Gilani