Florida College Classic
Arena • Estero, Fla.
Maine vs. Western Michigan, 4:05 p.m.
Cornell vs. New Hampshire, 7:35 p.m.
Saturday, December 30
Third-place Game, 4:05 p.m.
Championship Game, 7:35 p.m.
Senior forward Cam Abbott scored Cornell's
only regulation goal and potted the game-winner in
the Big Red's 3-2 shootout victory over Minnesota
Duluth to win the Ned Harkness Cup. Goaltender David
McKee was named MVP after allowing just a single goal
in 125 minutes during the two games in the tourney.
Cornell breezed past Northeastern in the opening round
with a 3-0 victory. McKee only needed to make 13 saves
to preserve the shutout.
Maine knocked off Hockey East foe Northeastern
4-2 in the consolation game. The Black Bears' big
names — Greg Moore, Michel Léveillé
and Derek Damon — each scored a goal while Moore
also added an assist. Ben Bishop stopped 16 shots
to earn the win.
Minnesota Duluth smoked Maine in the
opening round by a 4-1 margin and outshot the Black
Bears 42-23. Matt Lundin made 38 saves in the loss
while his brother, Mike Lundin, scored Maine's only
goal. Michael Gergen scored two goals for the Bulldogs,
including an empty-netter, and Justin Williams added
a goal and an assist.
Maine and Cornell have played in every
one of these tournaments since the inaugural one in
2000, which was then called the Everblades College
Classic. The Black Bears and Big Red have each won
two tournaments. Maine won two of the first three,
including the first, and Cornell has won two of the
last three, including the last. The Black Bears and
Big Red share identical 6-6 records in the six-year
The two have only met in the finals
once — the inaugural event — with Maine
winning 2-1. They have only met in the first round
once, also, with Maine winning 3-2. The Big Red came
away victorious in their only consolation round meeting,
4-3. Each team has one consolation round win.
After reaching the finals in the first
three years, the Black Bears have lost in the opening
round of the tournament three years in a row. Last
year's 4-2 win over Northeastern in the consolation
round ended Maine's five-game losing streak in the
Classic. After Cornell won its first ever game in
the tourney — a 6-5 overtime decision over Ohio
State — it went on a five-game skid of its own.
The first game looks like a bit of a
mismatch on paper with Western Michigan stacking up
against Maine. The Black Bears got off to an immaculate
start before fading a bit, losing three in a row and
going winless in four out of five games. They have
since gone 2-0-1 in their last three. Offensively,
Michel Léveillé leads the charge with
12 goals and eight assists, but freshman Teddy Purcell
has been extremely fun to watch with five goals and
13 assists. Big Ben Bishop has a .927 save percentage
and 1.75 goals against average for the Black Bears.
Mark Letestu (9-10—19), Jeff Pierce (5-11—16)
and Brian Bicek (8-5—13) lead the Bronco attack.
The second game is a little more of
a premier showcase. New Hampshire (second in the INCH
Power Rankings) and Cornell (12th) are both playing
solid defense. The Wildcats are fourth in the country
in scoring defense, allowing a stingy 1.94 goals per
game, while Cornell is 12th by allowing 2.33 red lights
per contest. UNH is back to its old ways on offense,
though, scoring more often than Paris Hilton at a
Las Vegas nightclub. The Wildcats' 4.38 goals per
game are second in all the land, but the Big Red aren't
too far behind with a clip of 3.5 scores per contest,
good for 13th in the nation.
Trevor Smith is making an early push
for Hockey East Player of the Year with a conference-leading
24 points. Matt Fornataro, Mike Radja, Jacob Micflikier,
Josh Pollastrone and Brett Hemingway all have at least
16 points for the UNH attack, making their top two
lines as dangerous as any in the country. Kevin Regan
has a .925 save percentage and 2.22 goals against
average for the Wildcats.
On the other hand, Cornell's leading
scorer has 15 points. Topher Scott holds that honor.
Jared Seminoff, Tony Romano and Mark McCutcheon are
the Big Red's other double-digit scorers.
HOW WE SEE IT
Though Maine hasn't been immune from
the upset this season, the Black Bears should be a
little too strong for Western Michigan. On the other
side of the bracket, UNH will have too much offense
for Cornell to handle, which is something a lot of
quality teams are finding out this season. That sets
up a great northeast rivalry in the backdrop of a
Floridian sunset for the championship. The Wildcats
traveled to Orono earlier this season and slapped
Maine around by an 8-2 clip on Nov. 12, which marked
the Black Bears' first loss of the season. It was
also the first of three losses in a row for Maine.
More importantly, it jumpstarted UNH to its current
nine-game winning streak. These aren't just small
wins, either. Three of those victories have come by
two goals, while the rest have come by three or more.
The Wildcats will dance in Estero on Saturday night
as 5-3 winners.
— Jeff Howe