January 23, 2011

Men’s Hockey Undefeated During Home-and-Home

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Feb. 29, 2008 — Cornell hockey players, coaches and fans alike proudly cheered in Lynah Rink during a 6-0 shutout of Ivy League rival Dartmouth, a game in which Colin Greening ’10 posted a hat trick. This was the first hat trick for the Red since the standout forward Matt Moulson ’06 tallied one three years prior.

Fast-forward another three years to present time, when another Cornell player was able to welcome the arrival of fans’ hats onto the ice. Senior left wing Tyler Roeszler posted a four-point night in the second game of a home-and-home series with upstate enemy Colgate.

After Friday’s 1-1 overtime tie in Hamilton, N.Y., the Red regrouped to try and take down the Raiders the next night when both teams faced off in Ithaca. And indeed, Roeszler led the way for Cornell with three goals and one assist.

The game on Saturday started off with a goal scored at 6:24 into the first period by Colgate’s Austin Smith, who sported the number nine on his jersey. Roeszler, also wearing nine, responded less than a minute and a half later with a goal of his own to tie up the game. He also netted a second goal, on the power play, with just under 30 seconds remaining in the first.

While the second period saw no goals scored by anyone on the Red and only an equalizer by the Raiders’ Smith, the period was especially memorable because of all the squabbles between players on the rival teams. When senior right wing Dan Nicholls appeared to skate into and crush Colgate’s senior center Brian Day, Day — a draftee of the New York Islanders and the scorer of the lone goal for the Raiders the night before — took an open hit back at Nicholls. From there, it was a series of attempted hits from both sides with some referee intervention, making for 10 called penalties on the two teams combined— eight two-minute roughing minors for players on both sides, and an additional 10-minute misconduct major for each Nicholls and Day.

Cornell’s junior center Jordan Kary also joined the two in exiting Lynah Rink just over a minute later, as he, too, received a 10-minute misconduct penalty. In total, the second period included 14 of the 25 total penalties called during the game. However, the Red’s penalty kill, coming in at 11th in the country, remained steadfast and prevented any goals from being scored on freshman goaltender Andy Iles whenever the Raiders held a man advantage.

“We took a couple of penalties there, obviously have a couple of big kills in the second period and we were able to calm down between periods and refocus and come out for the third, and we had a really good effort in the third,” Roeszler said.

At 6:10 into the period, Roeszler sent a shot at the cage and the puck rebounded to sophomore center Erik Axell, placed it in the back of Colgate’s net. This goal not only gave Cornell the lead, but it was also Axell’s first collegiate goal.

“The biggest thing for me is that I was focusing on moving my feet and getting physical,” Axell said of what allowed him to score, adding that his first goal could not have come at a better time.

Axell returned to the ice this season after undergoing hip surgery over the summer, and played a huge role for the Red on not just Saturday, but on both nights of the weekend, according to head coach Mike Schafer ’86.

“Our biggest surprise of the weekend: I thought that Erik played well at Colgate, I thought that he was one of our best players over there. I thought that he played very solid again here [Saturday] and I think that it’s been a tough year for him,” Schafer said, noting that recovering from the surgery prevented Axell from training as he normally.

Following Axell’s point, Roeszler drove in another insurance goal at 9:48 into the third, with assists from a pair of defensemen, senior Mike Devin and freshman Kirill Gotovets. Indeed, fans tossed their hats onto the ice as per hockey tradition before starting up a chant of Roeszler’s name.

As if a 4-2 lead wasn’t enough, junior center Sean Collins, who posted an assist on junior right wing Locke Jillson’s goal the night before, tallied another goal for the Red with the Raiders’ goalie pulled with 1:26 left in the game.

Moving forward, the Red wishes to climb up ECAC rankings, where it currently sits at the top of the bottom half, with the momentum from this weekend hopefully lasting.

“We’re growing and hopefully we’ll continue to get better,” Roeszler said.

Original Author: Reena Gilani