March 3, 2013

M. HOCKEY | After Weekend Split, Icers Just Shy of Playoff Home Ice

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A season of near misses continued this weekend for the Cornell men’s icers, as the Red moved up in the ECAC standings, but came up just shy of claiming home ice for the opening round of the conference tournament.

The Red (12-14-3, 8-11-3 ECAC) finished out the regular season with a big 4-1 victory over Brown (11-12-6, 7-9-6) on Friday and a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat at No. 14/15 Yale (16-10-3, 12-9-1) on Saturday. Entering the weekend 10th in the ECAC standings, the Red jumped past Clarkson, but will still be on the road when the conference playoffs begin this weekend. Princeton (10-14-5, 8-10-4) will host Cornell in a best-of-three series beginning Friday.

What had been a five-game unbeaten streak ended for the Red in Providence, R.I. on Friday. Led by senior forward Greg Miller — ECAC Player of the Week — and junior goaltender Andy Iles — ECAC Goaltender of the Week — the Red battled on both sides of the ice for a complete game effort. The squad took an early lead midway through the first, as Miller assisted freshman forward Christian Hilbrich for Hilbrich’s first collegiate goal. Not long after, sophomore defenseman Joakim Ryan showcased his ability to generate pressure on the other end by moving the puck in transition and passing to junior forward Dustin Mowrey, who scored to extend the lead to 2-0.

Brown outshot the Red in the second period by a 12-6 margin, but the scoreboard didn’t indicate it as senior forward and tri-captain Braden Birch added to the Cornell lead. After trading goals in the final period, the Red left the ice of Meehan Auditorium with a 4-1 creaming of the Bears — highlighted by Andy Iles’ 31 saves while going head-to-head against his former Salisbury School hockey teammate Anthony Borelli.

Excitement turned to disappointment for the Red in New Haven. Having jumped into the top seven of the ECAC standings and poised to claim home ice after beating Brown, Cornell was subdued by the Bulldogs and more third-period misfortune in a frustrating 2-1 defeat on Saturday evening.

Junior forward Kenny Agostino gave Yale an early 1-0 lead to excite the crowd on the Bulldogs’ Senior Night. The Red responded with a goal by sophomore forward Joel Lowry — giving Miller his third assist of the weekend — but Yale struck back in the third during a power play opportunity. The Red had several near misses from close range and outshot the Bulldogs 14-7 in the third period, but three pucks hit the post and Cornell eventually fell 2-1 in what became the exclamation mark for a season of close defeats.

With Brown and Princeton pulling out wins on Saturday, the Red dropped to ninth position and will be the top-seeded team playing on the road this weekend. Boasting a 4-1-1 record over the final six games of the year, the Red will look to make a splash in the ECAC Tournament and avenge two earlier losses to the eighth-seeded Tigers when traveling to Princeton this weekend.

Original Author: Chris Mills