January 18, 2012

M. HOCKEY | Road Trip Marked by Inconsistency

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After wrapping up the final week of classes with its last two home games of 2011, the men’s hockey team hit the trails over winter break, kicking off a six game road campaign. Cornell (10-4-3, 7-1-2 ECAC) traveled to Estero, Fla., for the Florida College Classic on Dec. 29-30, trekked across the country to Colorado Springs, Colo., on Jan. 6-7 to face Colorado College in a two-game series and then finally returned to the East Coast to face two huge rivals. In its past six road games, the team met mixed results, notching three wins, one loss and two ties.After a few weeks of rest, Cornell took to the road, travelling to the Florida College Classic where it played against UMass and Clarkson. Although sophomore goalie Andy Iles blocking 25 shots on goal, the Red ended its two game shutout streak in a 5-2 loss to the UMass Minutemen (8-8-5, 4-6-4 HEA). Junior defenseman Nick D’Agostino started the night off by scoring his eighth season goal on a power play, giving the Red a 1-0 lead with 2:21 to go in the first period. Working hard to equalize, UMass tied the game in the second before surging ahead of the Red with a goal just 32 seconds into the third period. Hoping to make up for lost ground, the Red responded with a second goal of its own from the stick of junior forward Greg Miller. The Minutemen notched three more goals before the game ended, including one empty-netter with under 30 seconds left in the game. This game marked the fifth consecutive loss that the Red has posted at the Florida College Classic after winning the championship in 2008. Despite the loss, the Red was still able to maintain an offensive edge, notching a few goals in the contest.“I think that [the offense] is a work in progress,” said senior forward Sean Collins. “I think we have four really good lines that can score. So the goals will come.”Cornell rebounded the next night in a 5-3 victory over Clarkson, with five players registering multiple points including Iles who made 19 saves in addition to his first collegiate assist. Four Red forwards — juniors Greg Miller and John Esposito, freshman Brian Ferlin and Collins — each recorded a goal and an assist on the night, with junior defenseman Braden Birch earning his first two points of the season with a pair of assists. Esposito started the game off with a goal at just 8:06 in the first period. This ignited a chain of goals by the Red, including one by senior captain and defenseman Kier Ross, before the final game winner by Miller with an empty netter at 19:39 in the final frame.“We’ve really been working on perfecting a lot of our systems,” D’Agostino said, indicating the team’s need to improve in a few different areas on the ice. “Working on our forecheck a lot, something that we really struggled with this past weekend, [and] working on our defenses on plays… You know picking up sticks and good positioning on your guys, another thing that showed this weekend.”Boarding a plane traveling westward to the Mountain Time Zone, Cornell took on the Colorado Tigers at World Arena in a two-game series on Jan. 6-7. The Red split the weekend away, earning a huge 3-1 win on the first night before heading home witha disappointing 3-3 tie the next day. On Friday, Iles made 39 saves as a trio of forwards put points on the scoreboard. Senior Locke Jillson and freshman John McCarron gave the Red a 2-0 advantage in the first period, which Cornell maintained until Colorado (13-8-1, 9-6-0 WCHA) found a hole in the defense’s wall and earned its only point of the night at 2:34 in the third period. Miller earned the Red’s final point of the night on an empty netter with just 7.6 seconds remaining in play. The following night, the Red came back from a two goal deficit when freshman forward Joel Lowry, Collins and Miller scored three points for Cornell. However, the Red was unable to hold onto the lead, as Colorado answered with its own third goal for the night, thus ending the game in a tie, 3-3.“We knew that these were two huge games up at [Colorado College] that we would have to play” D’Agostino said. “On Friday night we, I guess still getting a little adjusted to the altitude, and were really fatigued in the second and third period, but I think Andy [Iles] has played his best game that he has played in a Cornell uniform and he won [the first] game for us. I think anyone in our locker room will tell you that.”Finishing up its six game road trip, Cornell returned to the East Coast to face the Quinnipiac Bobcats and Princeton Tigers. Jillson put the Red on the board in the first period against the Bobcats; however, Quinnipiac rallied with two goals of its own, gaining the lead in the second period. Unwilling to accept defeat, Collins and Lowry each scored shorthand goals in the third period for Cornell, lifting the Red to a 3-2 win.  The following night proved less successful for the Red as it traveled to New Jersey to face Ivy rival Princeton. Initially the game looked like it was in the bag for Cornell, as sophomore forward Dustin Mowrey, sophomore defenseman Mathieu Brisson and freshman forward Cole Bardeau scored in the first and second periods. The momentum shifted by the beginning of the third period, moving the power into the hands of the Tigers. Princeton scored three goals, tying the score at 12:14 in the period. The score would remain unchanged as neither team was able to score the game winner.

Original Author: Lauren Ritter