February 10, 2005
Great Expectations

By Joe Gladziszewski

ECACHL Notebook

Cornell's Mike Knoepfli help set up the game-winning goal in the Big Red's 1-0 win against Colgate Friday.

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The first game of a first-place showdown between Cornell and Colgate was exactly what everyone expected it would be. Power-play chances for both sides provided the best scoring chances. Goaltenders Dave McKee of Cornell and Steve Silverthorn of Colgate were steady when faced with challenges.

The end of the game was fitting too. With about a minute and a half left in the game, on a defensive zone face-off, Cornell defenseman Jeremy Downs slapped the puck around the boards. Mike Knoepfli made a safe, patient play to tip the puck to the neutral zone where Chris Abbott was supporting the play. It set up a two-on-one. Abbott drew the Colgate defenseman, and slid the puck over for Mike Iggulden’s shot past Silverthorn.

A patient, methodical, fundamental build-up led to the game-winning goal that Cornell needed to push its lead in the standings to three points over the second-place Raiders. You get the feeling that Cornell likes doing things this way.

“That’s Cornell hockey,” McKee said. “This is how we want to play, we want to be in these situations. We thrive on this. We know that we’re a good, physical team and we can play good defense and get our chances and capitalize.”

Of course, things are always fun when you’re winning, and Cornell’s doing a lot of winning these days. The Big Red are 7-0-1 in their last eight games and stand comfortably in first place, and are chasing a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Cornell games regularly end with scores like 1-0 and 2-1, and that drives the Big Red players.

“We love it. We love to battle, we love going head-to-head,” senior forward Mike Iggulden said. “It makes it a lot more exciting when games are close. We thrive on these close games. We’d rather have a four-goal lead going into the third but it really gets you pumped up when games are tight.”

The success in those tight games is a result of excellent goaltending, defensive responsibility, special teams proficiency, and team unity. Everyone on the Cornell roster comes to the building with the same priorities. It builds confidence, because of trust in teammates. Matt Moulson and Dave McKee get the statistical recognition, but the fact that a part-time forward or leftover defenseman can step in and keep things headed in the right direction speaks volumes.

“A strong point of our team is that we have a lot of depth,” junior center Chris Abbott said. “We roll four lines most every night and our D, come to play every night. Everyone has confidence in what everyone else is doing and I think that helps out a lot.”

The team’s depth will be challenged again as standout freshman defenseman Sasha Pokulok was injured during the Colgate series and will likely miss the remainder of the season. That means increased playing time for Dan Glover or Evan Salmela. Junior defenseman Jon Gleed is expected to return to the lineup in the near future.


Learning at the Beanpot: Take it as no surprise that Harvard was involved in a defensive struggle in their first-round Beanpot matchup, a 2-1 double-overtime loss to Northeastern. It’s the type of concentrated defensive effort that the Crimson sees from most teams in the ECACHL.

“Going into this game we knew it was going to be low-scoring, and it was very similar to a league game. It was a tough loss, but we’ll learn from it,” Harvard forward Kevin Du said, whose goal on Monday was featured as one of SportsCenter’s Top Plays.

As the second and third periods passed, and the score remained 1-1, the game reached a stage where a great play, a mistake, or a bounce could be the difference. The Fleet Center stands filled up for the overtime periods. It felt like a playoff game, and that’s a good feeling to get now before it truly matters in March.

“Anytime you can put yourself in a situation where you’re under extreme pressure and one goal can decide it, we can learn a little lesson and take a piece out of this that can help us down the road,” Harvard coach Ted Donato said.

Get ready for Freakout!: This time of year in Boston means that college hockey fans are focused on the Beanpot, and the incredible streak that Boston University has in advancing to the championship game in 23 of the last 24 years.

This time of year in Troy, N.Y. brings about the annual Big Red Freakout! at Houston Fieldhouse and the host Rensselaer Engineers have a success streak that might make BU jealous. The Engineers are 10-0-4 in the last 14 Freakout! games, and have a 16-7-4 overall Freakout! record. Brown is RPI’s most common opponent for the Freakout! and the Engineers have beaten the Bears in all six prior meetings.

Saturday’s game, always a sell-out at Houston Fieldhouse, will be televised by CSTV. The Engineer faithful will get to turn the clock back two decades as the 1985 national championship team will be honored prior to the start of the game.

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St. Lawrence at Dartmouth (Fri.)
Clarkson at Dartmouth (Sat.

These are important games for all three teams as Dartmouth pursues Vermont for fourth place and the first-round playoff bye. St. Lawrence and Clarkson look to rack up some more ECACHL points and get home ice for the first round.

While You’re There: It’s Winter Carnival weekend on Dartmouth’s campus in Hanover, N.H. Opening ceremonies were held on Thursday with fireworks, a snow sculpture and other entertainment. This is the 95th carnival.

Stick Salute

Full credit goes to Colgate goaltender Steve Silverthorn. After losing 1-0 to Cornell last Friday, he said, “I let in the goal that cost us the game.” Let it be noted that the goal came on a 2-on-1 rush for Cornell that started with a face-off in Colgate’s offensive zone. He chose not to point fingers toward team defense or a lack of goal support.

Bench Minor

At the other end of the spectrum, with no convenient officiating gripe to rely on, Mike Schafer complained about ice conditions in his home rink. Here’s what he told the Ithaca Journal about Colgate’s second goal in Saturday’s 2-2 tie. "The second goal, was really, really frustrating. People were probably wondering what the delay was. As we came out, there was a lot of water laying around. Our defense got a real bead on the puck going down (in the Cornell zone). And the puck hit a patch of water and stops and causes a turnover."


Clarkson is now on a three-game winning streak. The last time the Golden Knights had a four-game winning streak in the regular season came during the 2001-02 season. Dustin Traylen was a big part of Clarkson’s success in last year’s playoff run and appears to be getting hot again. He’s won all three games, and stopped 96.7 percent of the shots he’s faced.

• Here’s hoping that everyone can make it to Albany for the ECACHL Championship game, but if you can’t be at Pepsi Arena in person, there’s good news to report as legendary hockey play-by-play man Mike Emrick will be handling the announcing duties for CSTV, joined by analyst Billy Jaffe.

• Last year, Colgate swept the home-and-home weekend against Cornell to cement itself at the top of the standings and solidify its place as a title contender. The Raiders’ mental approach for this year’s important set with the Big Red was to not place too much emphasis on the big picture, and just concentrate on the games.

“There’s a lot of hockey left. We tried to guard against making this the season and I’m sure that Mike did the same thing over there,” Colgate coach Don Vaughan said.

Union got a break from league play and defeated Holy Cross to snap a seven-game losing streak. Joel Beal watched most of the second and third periods from the bench before scoring a crucial power-play goal in the victory. Dutchmen senior Matt Vagvolgyi, a defenseman for his first three years, has been moved to the right wing, where he’ll be playing for the rest of the season.

Vermont has sold out its last 10 home games at Gutterson Fieldhouse, and it’s anticipated that the last four regular-season home games will be sellouts as well. The Gut holds 4,003 for hockey.

Yale scored the last four goals of the game, all in the third period, in a 5-2 win over St. Lawrence.

Colgate’s Adam Mitchell recorded two assists against Cornell on Saturday and now has 101 career points, the 43rd Raider to accomplish the feat and the first since Cory Murphy in 2001.

More milestones — St. Lawrence goaltender Mike McKenna will become the all-time leader in games played at that position for the Saints with his next appearance. He’s currently tied with Bill Sloan, an All-America goaltender for the Saints in the 1950s, with 85 career games played.

• Princeton’s tie at St. Lawrence was the Tigers' first point in the North Country in four years

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.

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