A Senior Moment in Albany
By Ken McMillan
ALBANY, N.Y. — Semifinal-round losses
in the ECAC Tournament Friday left Cornell and Colgate with
little to play for except pride and an opportunity to send
their respective senior classes out with a victory on Saturday.
“We have such a great group of guys,"
said Cornell senior defemseman Doug Krantz. “We wanted
just one last chance to go out and go to battle with them.
(We wanted to) have a great time out there. We tried to
enjoy it ourselves and have a good time pulling that jersey
over our heads for one last chance."
Krantz is going to take the memory of an ugly
goal into the rest of his life, and three other Cornell
seniors will remember their final game was a 4-2 victory
over their central New York rivals at the Times Union Center.
“It was not the prettiest one,"
Krantz said of his goal with a laugh, “but they don’t
ask how, just how many."
|Defenseman Doug Krantz capped
his Cornell career with a goal against Colgate in Saturday's
ECAC Hockey third-place game.
Linemates Topher Scott and Raymond Sawada
will go down in history as never having missed a Cornell
game, 137 in all. Sawada suffered a knee injury in November
but kept playing. Scott played through a broken wrist during
his sophomore season.
“I never realized that," said Cornell
coach Mike Schafer. “(That’s amazing) especially
how hard both of them play ... they fought through some
major injuries. It shows you how mentally tough they both
Sawada, a second-round draft choice of the
Dallas Stars in 2004, scored on a tip-in at 7:31 of the
second period, giving Cornell a lead it would not relinquish.
Patrick Kennedy took the initial shot from the left point
and Sawada’s deflection went high on Colgate keeper
Scott set up Cornell’s third goal, a
power play tally at 8:57 of the second period. Breaking
in on a two-on-break Scott slid a pass to Justin Krueger
on the edge of the left circle, and Krueger’s one-timer
beat Dekanich on the blocker side.
Sawada closed his best collegiate season with
10 goals and 16 assists, collecting points in 10 of his
final 13 games. For his career, he finished with 31 goals
and 45 assists. Scott finished the season with 10 goals
and 20 assists. He was the 44th Cornell player to reach
100 career points, concluding with 25 goals and 82 assists.
“Ray has to be a guy at the next level
who will hit a lot of people and probably fight a lot of
people," Schafer said. “Topher, just like his
whole life, is going have to get an opportunity with somebody
to prove that he can play. He has a tremendous amount of
character and tremendous talent."
Two losses spoiled the end for Dekanich, who
closed his stellar career at Colgate as one of the top players
ever to pull on the maroon jersey of the Raiders. The Nashville
Predators draft choice finished as the school's leader in
save percentage (.923), saves (3,071), shutouts (11) and
games (120), second in goals against average (2.25), and
third in wins (52).
“He’s been such a rock back there
for us," Colgate coach Don Vaughan said of Dekanich.
“He’s one of the best goaltenders in the country
— all you have to do is look at his save percentage
and the number of shots we have a tendency to give up the
last couple of years. He has kept us in a lot of games.
He has allowed us to have a chance to win most of the games
he has played in. He is a huge part of what’s happened
here the last three weeks. He’s a tremendous goaltender
and a great kid."
Vaughan believes the Preds will sign Dekanich.
“There [are] a lot of great goaltenders
out there," Vaughan said, “but Mark approaches
the game with a real professional attitude and is deliberate
in the process of getting prepared to play, like a pro would.
He has a tremendous upside, and I think he should get a
Colgate’s eight-man senior class includes
Tyler Burton, who scored one final time with 1:25 to play
in the third period, knocking in the rebound of a Ben Camper
shot. Burton closes his career as Colgate’s all-time
leader in games played (158), No. 7 in goals (83), and No.
16 in points (155). The second-team all-ECAC forward led
the league this season in goals (23) and points (41).
“The last game, it’s always sad
to see it come to an end," Burton said. “It’s
been a great ride. When you get here as a freshman —
we were here in the tournament — you say goodbye to
your seniors and you don’t believe how fast it goes.
We tell the younger guys to cherish it because it’s
a special time."
|Colgate senior forward Jesse
Winchester didn't dress for Saturday's ECAC Hockey third-place
game, but instead joined the Raiders' coaching staff
behind the bench.
Jesse Winchester did not dress for his final
game, but was asked to join the coaching staff behind the
“I thought it would be fitting for the
captain," Vaughan said. “I told him 10 minutes
before the game that he was making his coaching debut. He
thought I was joking but I wasn’t. We had a great
time behind the bench ... he got to talk to some of the
guys as they were coming off."
Cornell’s seniors finished first (2005),
second (2006), and third (2008) in the ECAC tournament,
won two NCAA regional first-round games (Ohio State in 2005,
Colorado College in 2006), and lost two regional finals
in overtime (Minnesota in 2005, Wisconsin in 2006). The
Big Red Class of 2008 posted an 82-41-14 record and 53-25-10
Colgate’s seniors finished third (2005)
and twice finished fourth (2006, 2008) in the ECAC tourney,
and qualified for the NCAA tournament in 2005. The Raiders'
Class of 2008 had an overall mark of 78-63-19 and 43-32-13
in ECAC play.