Fatigue had set in on every line of both Cornell and Dartmouth’s line-ups towards the end of double overtime in what was at the time the longest game in Lynah Rink history. That record lasted less than 24 hours, until the women’s team toppled Boston University Saturday afternoon in triple overtime. With two minutes and 20 seconds left in the fifth period of Friday’s men’s game, senior defenseman Sean Whitney scored his first goal of the season to clinch the victory.
Whitney’s snapshot ended a 65 minutes and eight second stretch without a goal and propelled the Red (17-7-7, 12-4-6 ECAC Hockey) over the Green (13-16-4, 8-11-3), 4-3, giving them an initial lead in the ECAC quarterfinal series.
“It was a weird game with how things started in the first period. Then, nobody could score. Both goalies played really well,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86.
Friday’s game began with a flurry of scoring in the first period. Though the Red’s freshman forward John McCarron had a chance down low within the first minute, it was the Green that drew first blood.
Junior defenseman Nick D’Agostino took a tripping penalty to prevent a breakaway shot on Iles, and Dartmouth’s Tyler Sikura took advantage of his team’s power play to tap in a rebound goal two minutes and 20 seconds into the game.
Through the first period, Dartmouth demonstrated more physical play than the Red, and seemingly good use of open ice. Upon further inspection, however, Dartmouth was finding open ice more easily because they were often expanding from a collapsed defensive position the Cornell offense was forcing them into.
Two goals by junior forward John Esposito demonstrated the Red’s early dominance. First, the puck was caught in the netting behind the Green’s plumbing. Sophomore Dustin Mowrey worked it loose and it bounced around the crease before Esposito hammered it home at the back post. Next, during a brief five-on-three situation for the Red, D’Agostino released a shot down low through heavy traffic and again it bounced to Esposito for a second back post goal at 10:20.
With a week off to heal his ankle injury, Esposito looked fresh, though he did have to be carried off the ice once in the second regulation frame.
“I tweak it sometimes,” Esposito said. The junior expressed confidence that his team could continue to win in the playoffs even in drawn-out games like Friday’s. “I’ve been practicing the last week really hard,” Esposito said about his own preparedness.
The Green came back to tie the game twice, but could never pull in front. Dartmouth senior defenseman Connor Goggin evened the score at two at 14:18 in the first with assists from Sikura and sophomore winger Matt Limdblad. His goal was one of two successful power play conversions for the Green. Shortly thereafter, Mowrey went top shelf on Dartmouth’s senior goaltender Jody O’Neill on a pass from junior Greg Miller to regain the lead.
Sophomore goaltender Andy Iles made more than one save on Dartmouth breakaways to hold the Green at bay. He denied senior center Doug Jones in the first with a sliding butterfly save and repeated the move again with five seconds left in the third. The confident net minder also made a few dangerous plays that payed off for the Red, but could have ended in Dartmouth’s favor. “He caused some of his own problems. It got pretty harry there a few times,” Schafer said. Iles made 46 saves on the night.
Halfway through the second, Dartmouth’s junior winger Jason Bourgea sent the puck across Iles to his senior line mate Schussler and the Green tied it up, 3-3. After that goal, 65:08 would pass without another score for either opponent.
At one point in the first overtime period, senior forward Sean Collins accidentally stopped the puck from crossing the goal line.
However, with just over two minutes left in the second overtime, a puck finally landed on someone’s stick in a scoring lane. Whitney let a snapshot fly from near the blue line and it sailed over the shoulder of O’neil.
“It’s just huge to get the win,” Whitney said.
“It was a long night. There was a lot of hockey tonight,” Schafer said, his voice almost disappearing after the battle. The team appeared exhausted and eager to begin its recovery before Saturday’s second win of the series.
Original Author: Rob Moore