After vowing to come out fighting against Princeton, the Red icers continued to stay in a groove this weekend, advancing to the ECAC Hockey Championship tournament’s second round.
The ninth-seeded Red (14-14-3) took down the eighth-seeded Tigers (10-16-5), 4-0 on Friday and followed up with a 4-2 victory on Saturday evening to sweep the best-of-three series. The Red will advance to the quarterfinals, where it will face either the one-seed Quinnipiac or two-seed Rensselaer, depending on the outcome of Sunday’s games.
During the series opener at Hobey Baker Rink, the Red and the Tigers battled back-and-forth, searching for scoring opportunities deep into the second period. About midway through, sophomore forward Joel Lowry passed from behind the net to fellow sophomore forward Brian Ferlin, who was able to assist sophomore defenseman Joakim Ryan to get on the board, 1-0. Then, to cap the second period, senior forward John Esposito beat Princeton goaltender Mike Condon on a quick shot to break the game open at 2-0.
After scoring his first collegiate goal last weekend at Brown, freshman forward Christian Hilbrich followed through on a breakaway to extend Cornell’s lead to 3-0 in the third period. Sophomore forward John McCarron added an empty net goal to cement the final at 4-0.
In game two, the Red needed to overcome some early adversity when Princeton scored a power play goal midway through the first period to take a 1-0 lead. Ferlin got the Red on the board in the second off assists from freshman defenseman Reece Willcox and senior forward Greg Miller. The assist was Miller’s first of three on the night, and the red-hot forward now has 13 points — six goals, seven assists — in the past eight games which boosts his career total to 97.The upperclassmen continued to step up as senior defenseman Nick D’Agostino struck early in the third period with a shot that went over Condon’s blocker. After seeing fewer than two minutes on the power play last weekend, the Red welcomed a Princeton slashing penalty and took advantage, with D’Agostino scoring again to extend the lead to 3-1.Princeton junior forward Andrew Calof — who the Red had identified as a player to contain — frustrated his opponent one final time this season by getting the puck in open space and dishing to teammate Will MacDonald, who scored and cut the lead to 3-2 with less than a minute remaining. The Tiger push was too little, too late, however, as Lowry added an empty net goal to punctuate a 4-2 Cornell victory and series sweep, eliminating Princeton from the conference tournament.The weekend sweep was notable for numerous reasons. Cornell outshot the Tigers 44-24 over the second and third periods of both games, and this time was able to capitalize with eight goals over that span. The hard-fought victories and efficient scoring marked a turnaround from two regular season losses to the Tigers, particularly a 1-0 defeat in February in which the Red outshot Princeton 39-12, but was unable to net a single goal.With a 2-0-0 record on the weekend, the Red is now up to 6-1-1 in the last eight games. Friday’s victory marked the Red’s first-ever postseason win at Princeton’s Hobey Baker Rink and improved the team’s record in postseason openers under head coach Mike Schafer ’86 to 14-2-2. The Red is now 7-2-1 all-time in playoff games against Princeton, and is back to .500 for the first time since late January.Depending on the outcome of the Harvard-Dartmouth series, the Red will travel to either Quinnipiac or Rensselaer for a best-of-three quarterfinal series beginning Friday.
Original Author: Chris Mills