After a 2-0 victory over Colorado College on Friday night, the men’s ice hockey team returned to Lynah Rink on Saturday night for another victory — this time with a 3-2 final score.
“It was a good weekend, [Colorado College is] a good hockey team,” said head coach Mike Schaefer. “I think they came out with more energy and I think we were as sharp tonight as we were last night … It was that kind of night that we learned a lot of lessons and came out on top.”
Colorado College was off to an aggressive start, leaving junior goaltender Any Iles defending a barrage of pucks. At six minutes into play, a Tigers forward took a two-minute elbowing penalty.
Just as the Cornell power play was coming to an end, sophomore forward Brian Ferlin started a rush through the neutral zone, where along with senior defenseman and co-captain Nick D’Agostino brought the puck down to the far wing. Ferlin shot the puck through a sea of bodies, including junior forward Armand de Swardt, and the puck found its way into the net.
“I thought we were pretty strong, especially for one of our first two games of the season,” Ferlin said. “I know last year we didn’t come out quite as strong at the beginning of the year, so that’s encouraging to see. I think we’re far ahead from where we started off last year, so it’s a good spot to build off of and get better.”
A few minutes later, Tigers sophomore forward Charlie Taft was able to get past Red senior defenseman and co-captain Braden Birch, take the puck down the ice and score on Iles, tying the score up at 1-1 before the first period came to a close.
The second period got off to a strong start for the Red, as just two minutes in Tigers’ junior defenseman Eamonn McDermott earned a two-minute penalty for hooking. Cornell was able to capitalize on the power play again, when junior forward Dustin Mowry passed the puck to D’Agostino, who sent it down low, where it found sophomore forward Joel Lowry, who tipped a low shot past Colorado College goalie junior Josh Thorimbert.
“D’Agostino] made a good play,” Lowry said. “He tried to get it to Miller and just couldn’t get enough on it, and we kind of got the puck again in the corner. I saw Nick out the weak side and just hit him. I was just trying to get to the net to get some traffic and he saw me. There was a seam and he just made a great pass and I just had to put my stuck on it.”
The next 25 minutes of play did not provide many great opportunities for either team, aside from the 55-second five-on-three advantage Cornell had around 12 minutes into the second.
The third period opened with Colorado having the first few shots on net. However, the Tigers drew another penalty six minutes into the third, and once more Lowry was able to capitalize on it and score his second goal of the night. On the power play, sophomore defenseman Joakim Ryan and senior forward Greg Miller helped set up the play for Lowry, who fired a low shot to the far side of the net, getting it past Thorimbert once again for a two-point lead.
“It felt good to contribute … I saw [Ferlin’s] back door and I was just trying to throw it off the goalies pad to get him a rebound and it went in, so it was kind of lucky I guess,” Lowry said.
Just 35 seconds later, the Tigers were able to put another one past Iles — making the score 3-2.
“We made a major blunder,” Schaefer said. “We had both defensemen jumping into play on a 3-1 lead — and that’s just an early season thing and they made us pay for it, scoring and making it 3-2.”
The score stayed at that number for the rest of the game, and the Red beat the Tigers, 3-2. Iles had 21 saves on the night. According to Lowry, the Tigers came out with some more ferocity than they had the night before.
“They had a lot more push tonight than they did last night … Tonight I think they came out pretty strong … They played really physically tonight,” he said. “I think we matched them for the most part and were just lucky that we capitalized on our chances on the power play and I think that’s why we won tonight.”
The benefit about playing the same team two nights in a row is that it provides the team a chance to build off of play from the previous night and improve in certain areas against the same opponent. According to Ferlin, this may have helped lead the Red to more success.
“We were a little too quick to get to our spots [Friday] night and not so much as focused on getting possession of the puck,” he said. “So I think we were working a little better together tonight, and getting possession of the puck before we set up so that definitely had a lot to do with it … We struggled a little last night, my unit did, so it was good to come out tonight and put it together.”
Cornell’s special teams units played a crucial role in Saturday’s game. The Red went three-for-eight on the power play and did not let up any goals on its eight penalty kills.
“Obviously it’s nice to have [special teams] clicking early,” D’Agostino said. “Right now, we’re just trying to keep it simple on the power play, get pucks to the net, look for seams and I think guys are doing a good job of that right now.”
“I think we have a lot of skill right now as a team,” Lowry added. “Guys have finally got a handle on who they’re playing with and have a little bit of chemistry with the guys they’re playing with now that the season started. I think we’re just making good plays, getting pucks to the net, getting bodies there and when you do that, good things happen.”
The Red has scored all of its goals so far on the power play.
“We’re not naïve, we’re gonna need to score even strength goals throughout the year,” D’Agoistino said. “But Cornell hockey is shut ‘em down five-on-five and win a special team battle, and we’ve done that so far — we’ve scored five power play goals and haven’t let in a power play goal against.”
Cornell begins ECAC play this upcoming weekend, with a two-game match-up against its neighbor Colgate.