November 20, 2011

M. HOCKEY | Iles Shuts Out Bobcats to Secure Four-Point Weekend

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Sophomore goaltender Andy Iles entered the weekend with 22 starts in net for Cornell, but no shutouts to show for it. The net minder provided a final salute to appease the Lynah Faithful, which spent much of the contest chanting Iles’ name, before departing the ice on Saturday night with a pair of 4-0 ECAC Hockey victories.

A wicked wrist shot from the right point by junior defenseman and assistant captain Nick D’Agostino in the second period proved more than enough offense for Iles — though the Red added three more scores for good measure — in his 32-save shutout of Quinnipiac.

“Here at Lynah Rink we play in front of the best fans in the country,” Iles said. “College hockey in an environment like this is something that really gets you going, and all of us feed off of that. [The fans are] there for us, and they’re some of the most supportive fans in the country.”

A night after defeating Princeton, 4-0, the Red (5-2-0, 5-1-0 ECAC Hockey) maintained its two-point edge in the conference standings with a victory over the Bobcats (7-6-2, 1-4-2) by the same final score.

After playing to a scoreless tie through a first period that head coach Mike Schafer ’86 termed “an embarrassment,” the Red rebounded to net three goals in the second frame.

“We didn’t come ready to play and they did,” Schafer said after seeing his team out-shot by Quinnipiac in the first, 13-3. “They took it to us pretty good in the first 20 minutes. We couldn’t get out of our own way, and didn’t win any puck battles … I said to [the team] after the game that it’s not too often you can turn it around [like we did].”

The Red came roaring out of the gates in the second period, when D’Agostino corralled a pass from freshman linemate Joakim Ryan, and fired the puck past Bobcats goalie Dan Clarke on a wrist shot from the right point, with a secondary assist awarded to sophomore right wing Dustin Mowrey. D’Agostino’s fifth score of the season and assist later in the period extended his point streak to four consecutive games after netting four goals on the road last weekend at Harvard and Dartmouth.

Cornell continued its second period success when senior center and assistant captain Sean Collins capitalized on a rebounded shot by freshman linemate John McCarron, tapping the puck in to extend the Red’s lead, 2-0.

For Schafer, Collins’ goal evidenced the importance of doing the little things when the team is struggling, as was the case through much of the first period.

“Being strong over the top of the puck is going to pay dividends for us later on down the road,” he explained. “You stay strong, you stay on your feet and you end up getting goals like the one with Sean Collins in front of the net.”

With Quinnipiac winless in its last six contests, and already trailing the Red by two, play between the ECAC squads became increasingly chippy with the second frame winding down. The intensity grew when Bobcats junior defenseman Mike Dalhuisen committed a cross-checking penalty after Iles covered up the puck. Mowrey took it upon himself to retaliate, ultimately winding up on the ground in a tussle with a Quinnipiac player in front of the Cornell net. Mowrey and freshman center Cole Bardreau were both assessed two-minute minors for roughing as was Dalhuisen and teammate Clay Harvey; however, the play resulted in a 5-on-4 power play for the Red as a result of the cross-checking call on Daluisen.

“It was just a high intensity game. Maybe it’s not the biggest rivalry in the league, but they came out hard, they had us on our heels off the bat and we responded,” said senior defenseman and captain Keir Ross when asked about the animosity on the ice. “[The three-goal lead] definitely is part of it. I know when I’m in that position, it’s hard not to get frustrated. I thought they played a pretty good game overall. The stuff after the whistle kind of just got a little out of hand, but that’s part of the game.”

Freshman right wing Brian Ferlin capitalized on the one-man advantage, recording his fifth goal of the season, assisted by junior center Greg Miller and D’Agostino. Ferlin’s score at 18:35 marked the third consecutive game in which the defending ECAC Rookie of the Week registered a goal, while extending his point streak to six straight. Miller has recorded a point in each of the Red’s seven games this season, and now leads the team with seven assists after notching a team-best 24 helpers in 2010-11.

Ferlin’s goal would not be the only fireworks in the final minutes of the period. In response to an apparent cross check by Ryan, Quinnipiac senior defenseman Mike Glaicar retaliated with a blindside hit on the Cornell freshman. Sophomore forward Armand de Swardt pinned Glaicar up against the glass near the visitor’s exit, and was eventually pried away from the Bobcats defenseman by the referee; however, only Ryan was penalized for his actions.

“The way they called [the penalty], it was basically the reciprocal of the power play that we had,” Ross said, referring to the series of five penalties called only minutes prior. “[The officials] called the cross check that Joakim had on the Quinnipiac player, and I guess that they didn’t see the other player come in and knock him over.”

The third period was all Iles, as the sophomore net minder stopped 11 Quinnipiac shots, while the Red could only muster three. Only 24 hours removed from his first collegiate shutout — a 15-save effort against Quinnipiac — Iles blanked the Bobcats on all six of their power-play opportunities, guiding the Red to its second consecutive four-point weekend.

“The more you play, the more comfortable you are in the games, and the easier the games come to you, Iles said when asked about transitioning from a part-time role last season. “For me it’s just been a process so far … I’m trying not to worry too much about the end results, but more so the process overall. I think we’re happy with where we are as a team right now — and we need to keep making improvements — but the sky is the limit for us.”

Junior forward Vince Mihalek put the game on ice with a short-handed empty netter in the final minute — the result of a Cornell penalty and Quinnipiac opting to pull Clarke to create a 6-on-4 advantage — securing the Red’s fourth consecutive win.

After three straight weeks of ECAC competition, Cornell hosts Niagara (2-4-3, 1-2-2 Atlantic Hockey) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. for its first non-conference matchup since an opening night loss to Mercyhurst on Oct. 29. The bout with the Purple Eagles serves as a final tune-up for Cornell’s bi-annual Red Hot Hockey contest at Madison Square Garden against Boston University (6-4-1, 5-3-1 Hockey East) on Nov. 26 at 8 p.m.

Original Author: Evan Rich