The 500th Red victory in the 54-year-old Lynah Rink came in ho-hum fashion on Tuesday Nov. 22. Sophomore goalie Andy Iles extended his shutout streak to 202:28, moving him to third place on the Red’s all-time list, as a third period goal from junior defenseman and assistant captain Nick D’Agostino lifted Cornell to a 1-0 win over Niagara.
The Red (6-2-0, 6-1-0 ECAC Hockey) defeated the Purple Eagles (2-5-3, 1-2-2 Atlantic Hockey) in its final tune up for Saturday’s Red Hot Hockey at Madison Square Garden in a matchup with rival Boston University (6-4-1, 5-3-1 Hockey East).
“We played hard, but we didn’t play with the passion that is needed in these kind of games,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “There is no sense of urgency in what we are doing in terms of being crisp and being on top of things and being physical.”
A scoreless first 40 minutes resulted from both teams failing to capitalize on an evenly distributed six penalties in the first two frames, highlighted by a bench minor on Niagara for too many men on the ice.
After a few awkwardly timed changes, the Red experienced one of its best chances late in the first on a backhand by senior center and assistant captain Sean Collins in front of the net with 2:58 left to play. Niagara answered seconds later with a hard slapper from the Cornell blue line, which was saved by Iles.
“The past couple weeks I’ve been seeing the puck really well,” Iles said. “The defense is doing a great job of clearing out the rebounds.”
The period ended with a slap shot by junior center Greg Miller that bounced off the far post.
Iles fought off several shots in the middle period — including a few that bounced off the net minder’s face mask. The defending ECAC Goalie of the Week made a huge sliding save at 5:32, keeping the shutout streak intact. Iles trails only Ben Scrivens ’10, whose 267:11 scoreless streak is the longest in the Red’s history and third-longest in NCAA history.
“Andy played awesome. He had a couple saves in the second that really clinched it, but [our offense] couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn door,” Schafer said.
Niagara goalie Colby Drost nearly matched Iles in the battle between the pipes, denying junior winger John Esposito twice with glove saves during a second period Cornell power play. Schafer has stressed throughout the season that his team’s formula for power-play success requires player movement, puck movement and playing off one another.
Halfway through the third period a puck finally found its way past one of the two net minders, as Cornell took advantage of a power-play opportunity at 9:03. D’Agostino knocked in the rebound on a shot with a backhand to the far middle of the net by freshman winger Brian Ferlin, with a secondary assist awarded to Miller.
“As good as Andy played, I thought [Millan] played equally as well,” Schafer said. “The kid made an unbelievable save on Johnny Esposito.”
Tuesday marked the seventh time in Niagara’s last eight games in which the Purple Eagles were involved in a contest decided by a goal or less. Head coach Dave Burkholder’s squad gutted out ties with RIT and Canisius, while losing in overtime to Air Force and Colgate. The game was the first of an 11-game series away from Niagara’s home at Dwyer Arena.
The Red travels to New York City for the third installment of Red Hot Hockey to take on Boston University at Madison Square Garden. The Terriers won the first Thanksgiving contest in 2007, 6-3, and came back from a 3-1 third period deficit to tie the Red in 2009, 3-3; however, Cornell leads the all-time series, 23-17-2. Puck drop is scheduled for 8pm and the game is already sold out.
“You can’t get complacent and you can’t get tired of winning,” Schafer said of the upcoming bout with the rival Terriers.
Original Author: Rob Moore