March 29, 2003
NCAA East Regional

The best defense ...

NCAA Tournament Coverage

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The Dean's List

By Nate Ewell

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – After seeing Minnesota State, Mankato erase its 2-0 lead, it appeared like Cornell needed one of those classic momentum shifters – a huge save, a big hit – to reclaim control of their first-round game.

Instead, the Big Red slowly maintained pressure in the offensive zone, wearing down the Mavericks through puck possession. It's not going to fit neatly into a six-second highlight clip, but the impact was the same. The top-seeeded Big Red held a 25-9 shot advantage in the second and third periods and cruised to a 5-2 win.

Cornell 5,
Minnesota State, Mankato 2
Team Goal Str
Time Assists

First Period

1-C Mike Knoepfli (7) EV
1:53 D. Murray
2-C Shane Hynes (10) PP
9:07 M. Knoepfli, M. Moulson
1-MS Dana Sorenson (12) EV
10:12 G. Stevenson
Second Period
2-MS Brock Becker (14) PP
3:24 J. Marler, P. Runkel
3-C Shane Hynes (11) PP
13:56 M. Moulson, C. Cook
Third Period
4-C Mike Knoepfli (8) EV
6:42 C. Cook
5-C Sam Paolini (13) PP
10:34 R. Vesce, S. Bâby
Goaltending
MS: Jon Volp, 60:00, 32 saves, 5 GA
C: Dave LeNeveu, 60:00, 18 saves, 2 GA
Penalties: MS 9/26; CC 4/8
Power Plays: MS 1-3; C 3-6
Attendance: 6,583

Cornell's defense gets so much credit, it's easy to think of them as a fall-back, trapping team. As they showed Saturday with relentless cycling and aggressive pinching from the defensemen, that's not the case.

"If you've never seen us before, you might think we sit back and trap," Schafer said. "I can't stand that kind of hockey. We come after teams, we force them to make plays against us, and we recruit that way as a program."

At the other end of the Dunkin' Donuts Center ice, Hobey Baker Award candidate Dave LeNeveu did the job when called upon, but he was as lonely as that last Munchkin you feel bad taking at your in-laws house.

Mankato's first goal came on a two-on-one that resulted from an ill-timed defensive pinch, but clearly Schafer trusts his team to take chances. LeNeveu is usually there to make the save – if his teammates make a mistake.

They usually don't, and the result is a lot of time spent in the other team's end.

"They were a big, strong, physical team," Maverick head coach Troy Jutting said. "They're smart, and they handle the puck along the wall extremely well. We knew that going in.

"I was a little bit surprised at how strong they were along the wall offensively in being able to to control the puck down low," he added.

Power plays contributed to Cornell's territorial domination, as the Big Red had six man advantages (three goals) to Mankato's three (one goal). And while the first unit moved the puck crisply and unselfishly, the second unit accounted for the first two goals (both by freshman Shane Hynes).

That kind of balance was evident at even-strength as well. Sophomore Mike Knoepfli also had a two-goal game – entering the day, he and Hynes were the team's ninth- and fourth-leading goal scorers.

That kind of production throughout the lineup – to go along with Cornell's style of play – will go along way to dispelling the misconception that the team with the nation's lowest goals-against average is a defensive team.

Boston College 1,
Ohio State 0
Team Goal Str
Time Assists

First Period

1-BC Tony Voce (23) SH
5:56 J.D. Forrest
Second Period
No scoring
Third Period
No scoring
Goaltending
OS: Mike Betz, 59:14, 20 saves, 1 GA
BC: Matti Kaltiainen, 60:00, 26 saves, 0 GA
Penalties: OS 8/16; BC 9/18
Power Plays: OS 0-7; BC 0-5
Attendance: 6,583

A GIANT AMONG MEN

Just one forward on Boston College's first three lines checks in at over 5-foot-11, the next generation in the seemingly endless parade of speedy, skilled, little Eagles.

So it's no surprise that Ohio State, with three centers at 6-foot-2 or taller, looked to play a physical style in their first-round meeting. BC defenseman Andrew Alberts – the Eagles' tallest player at 6-foot-4 – certainly came ready for that kind of game.

"We've got a lot of little guys, and that's part of my job on the team, be the physical presence," the sophomore said. "I think I went out there, I set the tone right away and throughout the game tried to get a hit in here and there. It ended up working out pretty well."

Alberts did more than throw his weight around. He, along with partner J.D. Forrest, matched up against Hobey Baker finalist R.J. Umberger. And he was a key penalty killer, as the Eagles negated all seven Buckeye power plays and scored a short-handed goal in the 1-0 win.

"We took three days in the past two weeks just working strictly on the penalty kill," Alberts said. "It showed up, we went seven-for-seven. We had two guys pressuring the forwards and that made it easy on the defense. When they dumped it in, we just sent it right back out."

The win was BC's first shutout in NCAA Tournament history, and sets up Sunday's meeting with Cornell. Alberts doesn't know a whole lot about the Big Red, but he does know they're big and physical. He'll be ready.

Saturday's Three Stars
3. Doug Murray, Cornell
Quieted Mankato stars Shane Joseph and Grant Stevenson while helping Cornell maintain offensive possession at the Mavericks' blue line.
2. Tony Voce, Boston College
The goal was, as he said and his coach agreed, "an NHL shot." But he was the Eagles' best player throughout.
1. Shane Hynes, Cornell
His second goal, a beautiful tip-in through Jon Volp's legs, got the lead back for Cornell. They cruised from there.

SEEN AND HEARD AT THE DUNK

• Maybe steep ticket prices kept fans from attending both the East and Northeast Regionals, but their proximity – about 45 minutes apart – made it a great weekend for NHL scouts. There was a parade of black leather jackets headed from Providence to Worcester after this afternoon's games. Some also caught the Hockey Night in Boston high school tournament while in the area.

• Ryan Vesce's assist on Sam Paolini's third-period goal for Cornell was Vesce's 100th career point. Paolini gathered the souvenier puck, creating the odd sight of his four teammates celebrating his goal without him. Maverick goaltender Jon Volp, understandably confused, gave Paolini a little shot as the goal scorer reached in his net.

• Mike Schafer said that his team quickly put the perceived slight by the NCAA selection committee behind them: "I was not pleased with the seeding at first, I made my comments and that was it. We moved on. Mankato is a good team, and we had good preparation. Like Shane (Hynes) said, we were playing a faceless opponent today."

• Troy Jutting likened Cornell's team to Denver's club last year. "They were a very, very good defensive team last year with a great goalie. Very similar teams, I think, after having played against Cornell today.

• The ice was clearly hampered in the second game, and might have contributed to the low score as pucks bounced over sticks repeatedly. BC head coach Jerry York brought it up after the game, but emphasized that he expects it to be better tomorrow with only one game.

PLUSSES AND MINUSES

To the skating Friar. Even though Providence didn't make the field, it was good to see college hockey's best logo on the ice, and on a handful of sweaters throughout the rink.

To Tony Voce, for showing off his vertical leap on Boston College's goal. The 5-foot-8 Voce got full extension to snag J.D. Forrest's clearing attempt, the collected the puck and beat Mike Betz high to the glove side for the game's only goal.

To divers, in both games. Minnesota State, Mankato's Dana Sorenson took a couple within a few minutes. One one he drew a power play – if this was the NHL, he also would have drawn a fine.

For the ticket prices, which are determined by venue, not by the NCAA. Providence's three-game package was available for $84, while Worcester's was $50. Single-game tickets for Sunday's Regional Final at The Dunk are available for $32.

WHAT'S NEXT

Cornell seeks its first trip to the Frozen Four since 1980. The Big Red's opponent, Boston College, has practically become a staple at the event since 1998, missing only last year.

The top two Hobey Baker candidates from the East meet head-to-head in the game, with Boston College's leading scorer, Ben Eaves, trying to beat Cornell's Dave LeNeveu.


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