November 21, 2010

Lynah Faithful Out in Full Force on Busy Night in C.U. Sports

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When the men’s basketball team reached the Sweet 16 and the wrestling program finished ranked No. 2 in the nation last season, it was questioned whether Cornell was still a hockey school. The Faithful responded on Friday night packing Lynah Rink to maximum capacity, while Cornell’s two other championship caliber teams played opening weekend games to significantly smaller crowds at nearby Bartels. The Red (2-5-0, 2-3-0 ECAC), however, came up short in its attempt to upset the nationally ranked No. 5 Yale Bulldogs (6-1-0, 3-0-0), falling to its Ivy foe, 4-2.

Despite entering the game as underdogs to a powerful and experienced Yale squad, the Red appeared to be the stronger team early on, drawing a penalty 34 seconds in on a boarding call assessed to Bulldog defenseman and captain Jimmy Martin. While the Red was unable to convert on the early power play, the unit showed marked improvement after struggling throughout most of the early season in such situations.

“Coach has done a great job in practice, we’ve been kind of focusing on getting our power play going and my brother [senior defenseman Mike Devin] and [senior co-captain Patrick Kennedy] are doing a great job of getting pucks to the net. When you get shots, they’ll go in eventually,” said senior co-captain Joe Devin.

Cornell was quickly awarded another one-man advantage at 3:06 when Yale defenseman Ken Trentowski was whistled on another boarding call. Disaster nearly struck on the delayed penalty when the Red offense narrowly missed putting the puck in its own net, while trying to regroup and begin an attack at the other end of the ice. The ensuing power play resulted in just one shot on target for the Red, however the unit was able to move the puck well enough for junior forward Locke Jillson to send off a hard slap shot that was denied by Yale goaltender Ryan Rondeau to end the scoring chance.

The first period went on with little fanfare until the Red drew its third power play of the game, this time on Yale forward Kenny Agostino at 16:07 for elbowing. Less than 30 seconds in Mike Devin put the puck past Rondeau for the Red’s fourth power-play goal of the season — slightly improving a power-play percentage that was hovering around 10 percent entering Friday’s action.

Just under three minutes into the second period, the Bulldogs managed to erase the 1-0 Cornell lead with a goal of their own when freshman center Jesse Root blew right past the defense, leaving junior goalie Mike Garman unprotected as the puck slid past his left blocker.

After Jillson drew another Yale penalty — one of five power-play chances Cornell earned on the night — the Red struck back and regained the lead, 2-1, on a shot by Kennedy from the blue line that hit Joe Devin in the leg and bounced into the Yale net.

“It hit me in the shin pad. I stood in front of the net on the power play there, and sometimes you get a lucky bounce,” Devin explained.

Yale soon responded at 11:32 when forward Denny Kearney brought the puck into the Cornell zone only to have his intended pass deflect off a defender right to teammate Broc Little, who finished off the play by putting the puck through Garman’s five-hole to tie things up, 2-2.

While the second period ended without any further scoring, there were a total of six penalties handed out between the two sides, as play became increasingly physical in the final 30 minutes of action. Back-to-back penalties called on senior forward Tyler Roeszler and junior defenseman Keir Ross forced the Red into a five-on-three disadvantage, leaving the penalty kill unit in a difficult situation in a tie game. The special teamers came up big once again for the Red, shutting out Yale for just under four minutes until junior center Sean Collins forced a break away chance, firing off a wrist shot that forced Rondeau’s momentum to carry him into the net. After an initial ruling of no goal the referees opted to review the play, only to confirm the original no call to the bewilderment of Schafer and the 4,236 on hand.

“Sean Collins beat [Rondeau] clearly between the legs and [the goalie] slid into the net with the puck all in one motion, and it’s classified as no goal,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86 when analyzing the play. “I thought that was just a common sense play to realize that as you’re going full speed and he’s sliding in, it’s the goalie’s responsibility to stay strong … so it was disappointing [that we didn’t get the call].”

After killing off another penalty to open the third period the Red finally succumbed to the powerful Yale power play unit when the Bulldogs broke the tie on a goal from forward Chad Ziegler, the result of a tripping call against Ross — his second penalty of the night. Yale defenseman Kevin Peel fired off a shot as he entered into Cornell’s defensive zone, clanking the puck off the pipe and leaving Ziegler an easy rebound opportunity to give the Bulldogs the lead, 3-2.

The remaining 17 minutes of the third period went by without much offensive action, as Garman and Rondeau continued to shine in net. Freshman defenseman Kirill Gotovets continued to impress deking past offensive players and showing the Faithful why the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning drafted him in 2009.

“They’re a very well coached team,” Schafer said of the Bulldogs ability to hold his team scoreless for the remainder of the game. “They have nine seniors on their team. They know how to shut you down and stay above you and capitalize, and they’re well committed to it. … It was a little bit what we did, but also give them credit — it was a lot about what they did.”

With Cornell’s net empty and under a minute remaining, Yale center Brendan Mason ended any hopes of a comeback when he put the puck in the back of the net to solidify the victory, 4-2.

Original Author: Evan Rich