November 20, 2011

M. HOCKEY | Iles Earns First Shutout at Cornell In ECAC Victory Over Princeton

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Goals by three of four lines vaulted the men’s hockey team to a 4-0 victory over visiting Princeton (2-5-1, 2-4-0 ECAC Hockey) Friday night. The game, the first of two in a perfect weekend for Cornell (4-2-0, 4-1-0), marked sophomore goaltender Andy Iles’ first career shutout.

Though Iles has played for over a year with the Red without a shutout on his record, the 180-pound net minder notched two in a period of just 24 hours — his second coming on Saturday night.

“It’s one of those things as a goalie you want to get out of the way and then you can go on and play your game every other night,” Iles said on Friday night. “As a goalie [a shutout] is one of those things you always want to have.”

Though all players earned at least a plus-one rating with the exception of the line centered by junior Erik Axell, head coach Mike Schafer ’86 said that he was most proud of that group for how it controlled the puck and kept the pressure on throughout the contest.

At 3:37 into the first period, Iles made a huge glove safe on a Tiger shot from the top of the circle, and then another just seconds later when Princeton regained the puck in the Red’s zone. The Tigers continued to push forward, utilizing a face-off set-up with three men on the inside within their own zone to charge through the Red’s points and breakout. Cornell’s challengers took 28-of-39 face-offs on Friday with sophomore center Andrew Calof accounting for 10 of the Tigers’ 28 wins.

The orange and black was awarded all three power-play opportunities in the first frame, which was evened-out by the Red earning three man-up chances in the second. The first exhilarating play of the game occurred on the second Princeton power play, when senior center and assistant captain Sean Collins broke away with an uncontested shot that went wide.

“I thought we worked hard defensively in the first period, but I don’t think we worked very hard offensively,” Schafer said.

A behind the back pass from junior forward Greg Miller through two unsuspecting Princeton back-checkers, to freshman winger Brian Ferlin put the Red on the scoreboard first. Miller would go on to win 18-of-25 face-offs, helping Cornell maintain puck possession through much of the game.

The second period was relatively uneventful for both teams’ attack units in comparison with the the third, but it was the middle period in which Iles really earned the bulk of his shutout. Princeton put seven powerful shots on target — three from right outside the crease — and with 12:37 left in the second, Iles denied Andrew Ammon at point blank range. Five minutes later, Princeton center Andrew Calof burned two Red defenders, forcing Iles to maintain his team’s lead with a near-side butterfly save. The Princeton forecheck put significant pressure on the Red’s back end for the remainder of the period.

The Red offense dominated the third period, with goals by freshman defenseman Joakim Ryan, sophomore winger Dustin Mowrey and Collins putting the game on ice in front of a sold-out Lynah Rink crowd. Cornell’s dominant final period put Princeton in a four-goal hole within the first 11 minutes of the third frame.

Two minutes in, Cornell got things going with an unassisted wrister from Ryan at the point to extend the lead, 2-0. Mowrey stuffed one past Princeton goalie Sean Bonar at the 9:26 mark on a rebound off an unsual play involving a flying stick. Collins put the final nail in the coffin on a pass from freshman winger Joel Lowry and junior defenseman and assistant captain Nick D’Agostino, sniping the top-left corner of the Tiger net.

“I went backhand to forehand and then a quick release which beat him upstairs,” Collins said of the goal. “I thought in the first two periods we didn’t have that intensity we had last weekend. We really turned it on in the third period.

Though the Red’s offense found success late in the game, the team struggled to convert on the power play — as did Princeton. The two squads combined to go 0-for-9 with the man advantage.

“I’m disappointed in our power play tonight. They were sluggish,” Schafer said.

In a uncommon distribution of talent, no Cornell player earned more than one point of the nine earned by the Red. With no clear top performer on offense, the focus was squarely on Iles after his first collegiate shutout.

“There is no better feeling as a goalie, and no better feeling as a team when you come out of there with a goose egg on the table,” Iles said.

Original Author: Rob Moore