ITHACA, N.Y. — Expectations for the Big Red among Cornell fans were high going into Saturday’s exhibition game against Wilfrid Laurier University. After seeing the Big Red’s sound 8-1 victory, those expectations are undoubtedly even higher heading into next weekend’s series against Alabama-Huntsville.
“These guys came back in great shape,” said Cornell coach Mike Schafer of his team, which outshot Laurier, 43-8. “We’re a lot further ahead than we should be at this time of year. We’re off to a good start.”
The Big Red looked to provide early answers to lingering questions about its offensive capabilities on Saturday night. Cornell’s David Kozier won the opening faceoff to defenseman Doug Murray, who then fired the puck into the Laurier Golden Hawks’ zone. But, following a brief offensive foray into Hawk territory, the tables turned on Cornell.
The Golden Hawks managed to break out of their defensive zone, and looked to move into Cornell’s defensive third of the ice, when Kozier got into a tussle with several Golden Hawks around center ice. He was called for tripping, which gave the visiting Hawks a man advantage just 24 seconds into the game.
Derek Sabourin capitalized on the power play just 10 seconds later when he fired a slap shot from the blue line that banged off of Cornell’s crossbar, and fell into the net, just over the shoulder of Cornell goalie David LeNeveu.
Kozier made amends for the goal scored during his penalty just a few minutes later, though. At 3:57, he and captain Stephen Baby put Cornell’s offense in motion by setting up linemate Ryan Vesce for the Big Red’s first goal of the game. Vesce scored on a well-placed shot from the top of Wilfrid Laurier goaltender Brandon Sacco’s crease.
The game remained tied at one goal apiece for the next several minutes of the first period, but the Hawks had trouble keeping up with Cornell’s offense. The Big Red generated numerous scoring chances for itself during the middle portion of the first period, including a few powerful long-range shots from defensive stalwarts Doug Murray and Brian McMeekin.
With 5:01 remaining in the first, it was right defender Mark McRae who finally banged in the go-ahead goal while the Big Red were enjoying the first few seconds of a power play. Approximately 30 seconds later, Matt McRae and David Kozier made several nifty passes along the boards in the Golden Hawk zone en route to Cornell’s third goal, scored on a direct shot from Denis Ladouceur at the point.
The Big Red added a couple of more goals in the second period, as Laurier began to wear down and get frustrated. The momentum continued into the third, with Cornell scoring at 1:27 as Matt McRae set up Sam Paolini for an easy goal in front.
Matt McRae scored another power-play goal shortly thereafter, and the Red coasted from there.
Schafer seemed confident that the offensive knack his team displayed against Wilfrid Laurier would continue on into the regular season. Specifically, he mentioned Cornell’s power play.
“It’s such an advantage for us,” Schafer said. “Usually, when you have a real good power play, someone graduates off of it, but they [our power play units] know each other, and it’s a great advantage for us.”