Two goals by junior forward Greg Miller boosted the Red to victory Friday night, paving the way for Cornell to take home the Ivy League championship title in Saturday night’s contest against Yale. Two quick scores sandwiching the end of the second period gave Brown an early 2-0 lead, but the Cornell squad remained poised and dominated the remainder of play, earning a 5-2 victory over the Providence team.
The Bears (8-14-3, 5-11-2 ECAC Hockey) are known as the league chameleon, often taking on the properties of their surroundings. This season they have downed top teams like Union (17-6-7, 11-3-4) , but have also lost to the some of the lowest ranking contenders such as Rensselaer (8-19-3, 5-10-3). The Red (13-6-6, 10-3-5) defeated the Bears earlier this season in a close 5-4 win in Providence, R.I., on Nov. 5.
“I’m sure we’ll get their best effort,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86 before the game.
Brown freshman forward Matt Lorito lit up the board first with a roofed glove-side shot with 2.6 seconds left in the first. The buzzer beater resulted from a loose puck and meant that the Bears would win the period despite being out-shot 9-to-3 in the frame.
“Coming out of the first, I was happy with the amount of scoring chances that we generated and the amount we didn’t give up,” Schafer said.
Less than a minute after the second period began, the Bears scored again putting the Red in a two-goal hole. This time, Brown freshman forward Ryan Jacobson displayed a textbook deflection on a low point shot from sophomore defender Dennis Robertson, which soared past sophomore goaltender Andy Iles.
By the 4:29 mark in the middle frame, Cornell’s Miller was heating up. Wide open in the zone, he accepted a pass from freshman forward Brian Ferlin and beat senior net minder Michael Clemente bottom left from just inside the circle.
“I have to give a lot of credit to my line mates,” Miller said. “All these goals don’t come if my line mates don’t do the little things and chip pucks to me.”
He would go on to score the go-ahead goal in the third and assist in the final blow with 45 seconds left on the game clock. Miller led the team in goals by two, until senior center and alternate captain Sean Collins took a page from the junior’s book and scored twice to tie the statistic on Saturday.
“We’re starting to believe in ourselves and that we can hold third period leads,” Miller said. “Our guys showed a lot of courage tonight.”
For his second goal, Miller walked through the crease, paused just long enough not to get a crease violation and turned for a one-timer again from Ferlin.
During the game, the Red’s junior winger John Esposito was added back into the arsenal for the first time in a month. Esposito, once the Red’s leading scorer, has been recovering from a high ankle sprain, which was tweaked during Friday’s game and resulted in him taking himself out in the third period. Despite recovering from an injury, Esposito tied up the game at 2-2 before the third with a pass from Jilson.
“You see why we missed him so much,” Schafer said.
The Red scored three goals in the final period, gave up none and tied the Bears with 14 shots. Since much of the conversation about the team has been focused on its third period performance, the Red was glad to turn a weakness into a strength, according to Schafer.
“Hopefully we’ll put that story behind us and make it a new one,” he said. “When you face adversity you learn a lot about yourself. Losing leads and tight games says a lot about how [we have] been able to grow as a hockey team.”
A loose puck in front was knocked in by junior winger Vince Mihalek, upping the score to 4-2 in favor of the Red before freshman forward Cole Bardreau sent one into the corner of Brown’s empty net to secure the win. With under a minute left, however, the game was far from over.
A monstrous hit on Mihalek initiated several wrestling matches on the ice in a display of physicality that would continue into Saturday’s championship game versus Yale.
“With 30 seconds left in the game, there’s no need for a big hit and that’s what we’re telling our guys — it’s what college hockey is,” Schafer said. “[The final penalties] are acceptable in that our guys were pissed off and went after a guy they thought took liberties. They stood up for their team mates.”
Over half the penalties handed out in the game were given at the 19:32 mark by head referee Kevin Gaber including four penalties for roughing, one for facemasking, three 10-minute misconducts and four game misconducts. A similar situation would evolve near the end of the 4-2 victory over Yale, as frustrations by competitive teams were settled on the ice. However, true to the game’s expected sportsmanlike behavior, everyone shook hands after the game.
Original Author: Rob Moore