October 23, 2011

M. HOCKEY | Youthful Squad Returns to Ice for Exhibition Game

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When top-scorer Joe Devin ’11 and six teammates graduated in May and 10 freshman joined the men’s hockey program, it seemed inevitable that youth would be an important factor for the 2011-12 Red. With six newcomers in the starting lineup on Friday night, head coach Mike Schafer ’86 confirmed that Cornell’s success would rely heavily on its newest recruits. After a power-play goal by junior left wing John Esposito midway through the first period handed Cornell the early lead, 1-0, freshman center Cole Bardreau took advantage of the chance to play on the first line, knocking in his own rebound to extend the Red’s lead with 55 seconds remaining in the period.The Gryphons battled back, but were unable to overcome the early deficit, falling to the Red at Lynah Rink, 3-2.For Schafer, the exhibition game against Guelph (1-6-0, 1-4-0 Ontario University Athletics) was a chance to give younger players an opportunity to see ice time prior to the start of the regular season. “I thought we made some really good plays offensively … but then the youth kind of showed in the third where we didn’t take care of the puck,” Schafer said when asked about the performance of his young squad. “It’s just an early season thing. We’ve got to get in the mentality of … not [making] reckless plays in the neutral zone. It was a really good learning experience for us, and it will provide us with a lot of good video and a good opportunity to get better.” In fact, Schafer scratched sophomore defenseman Kirill Gotovets, who started all 34 games for the Red as a freshman, because he was unimpressed with his play in practice.“He hasn’t practiced very well,” Schafer explained. “He’s been hurt, came back with a muscle pull, but in the few days that we’ve had practice, he hasn’t done the job. He played in every game last year … but again, you have to perform in practice, and I don’t think in the few days … he played particularly well.”Following Bardreau’s goal late in the first period, the Gryphons emerged from the locker room with some extra steam, as center Zachary Lillie put the puck past sophomore goalie Andy Iles, scoring Guelph’s first goal of the night to cut the deficit in half, 2-1. The Red quickly responded just over two minutes later when junior defenseman and assistant captain Nick D’Agostino took a hard wrist shot from the point, putting what proved to be the game-winner in the back of the net, assisted by junior center Erik Axell and sophomore right wing Armand de Swardt.While Cornell was able to hold Guelph scoreless for the remainder of the second period and much of the third, the Gryphons finally responded at 7:55 when right wing Andrew Merrett put in a rebound on a shot by left wing Kris Belan to bring the visitor within one, 3-2. “[We just need to] be stronger on pucks,” D’Agostino said when asked about the Red’s difficulty playing with a lead. “I think we had a lot of chances to get pucks up to the forwards … to get pucks deep in behind the defense, and we didn’t do it and it ended up costing us. We played right into the game they wanted us to — we turned a lot of pucks over and made it hard on ourselves — and that’s why we spent a lot of time in the third period in our own end.”­­

Original Author: Dani Abada