November 27, 2011

M. HOCKEY | Terriers Top Red in Overtime Battle at Garden

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NEW YORK — For the third time since the tradition started in 2007, Cornell departed Red Hot Hockey at Madison Square Garden without a win. A wild shot off the stick of junior forward John Esposito late in the third period was ultimately ruled no goal by the officials, sending the contest into overtime where the Terriers claimed victory on a game-winner off the skate of Ross Gaudet.

The No. 17 Red (6-3-0, 5-1-0 ECAC Hockey) fell to No. 15 Boston University (7-4-1, 5-3-1 Hockey East) in front of a sell-out crowd of 18,200 fans in a battle that head coach Mike Schafer ’86 called “the premier college showcase in the country.” The game was hotly contested, as were two calls by the officials that ultimately decided the outcome of the contest.

The Terriers out-shot the Red, 27-24, but Cornell only connected on one of those attempts — a score by senior forward Locke Jillson at 11:06 in the third period to tie the score, 1-1. Schafer attributed his team’s trouble putting the puck in the back of the net to “bad aim.”

“We needed to put more pucks on net,” he said.

“We blocked 21 shots. Special teams was obviously a big part of the game,” added Terriers head coach Jack Parker.

B.U.’s sophomore defenseman Adam Clendening scored the first goal of the game, ending sophomore goalie Andy Iles’ run at Cornell’s all-time shutout streak. The goal occurred on a 5-on-3 power play for B.U. after an interference penalty on junior defenseman Braden Birch just over halfway through the first period.

“I was really disappointed with the 5-on-3 call early in the game,” Schafer said of the additional penalty called on the Red that handed the Terriers a two-man advantage.

Cornell peppered Terriers senior goaltender Kieran Millan with 11 shots on net in the second — compared to six from the Terriers — but the Red again failed to convert on any of those opportunities.

“It seemed like they had 50 shots in the second period. They had all kinds of possession in the second period and some great opportunities,” Parker said.

The Red picked up its intensity in the second after Jillson tapped in a rebound on a shot by senior defenseman Sean Whitney early in the third.

“It was a great move by Sean Whitney to get it down low,” Schafer said.

Jillson’s forehand on a rebound at the bottom of the circle was his second point of the season, and marked the second consecutive time that No. 8 lit the torch at MSG against the Terriers.

With four minutes left to play, and an overtime already in order, an extraordinarily bizarre bounce nearly clinched a Red victory in the Big Apple. A slap-shot by Esposito went high, bounced off the glass, hitting Millan in the back and tumbling into the net. Upon video review, the referees concluded that a whistle signaled the end of the play before the puck entered the net.

“I am still at a loss for words why the goal wasn’t called,” Schafer said. “Officials said they went to the film box and heard the whistle [in the tape], but there was no whistle.”

Gaudet deflected a shot by linemate Max Nicastro into the Cornell net past Iles to secure the victory for B.U. at 2:48 in the extra session.

Iles recorded 25 saves over the course of nearly 63 minutes of action, and completed a stretch of 213:35 without allowing a goal — the second-longest shutout streak in program history.

“As a coach, I get to come down here again in another couple of years, but as a player that opportunity is gone,” Schafer said. “They are disappointed in the result, but I am very very proud of our hockey team. I was proud of the way our guys did react.”

The Red resumes ECAC play on Friday when it hosts St. Lawrence (5-7-0, 4-2-0) in a 7 p.m. contest at Lynah Rink, with another conference matchup against Clarkson (8-5-3, 2-3-1) slated for Saturday night at the same time.

Original Author: Rob Moore