ITHACA, N.Y. — On Saturday night the Bears of Brown failed to live up to their billing as the resident giant-killers of New England. Brown, coming off recent upsets of such powerhouses as UMass-Lowell, St. Cloud State, and Wisconsin, finally met its match against nationally-ranked Cornell.
With their 2-0 win, the Big Red completed a four-point weekend sweep, having also defeated Harvard on Friday night. Currently atop the standings in the ECAC by a margin of five points, Cornell has won its last six games, and looks to make a run at the conference title as the season winds down.
“We’re playing better and better as each weekend goes on,” said Big Red coach Mike Schafer. “Our guys are pretty focused right now. They set that goal of wanting to be in first place at the end of the year, and we still know we’ve got eight games to get there.”
“We’re on fire,” agreed forward Sam Paolini. “We feel like we can beat anyone in the nation right now.”
Against Brown, Cornell played fundamentally sound hockey, denying its opponents the opportunity to establish any kind of offensive attack for the bulk of the contest.
The Red managed to kill five penalties on the evening, seldom even giving Brown the chance to maintain possession of the puck in the offensive zone for more than a few seconds at a time. As a result, the Bears managed only 15 shots on the evening, all of which were handled by freshman netminder David LeNeveu en route to his second shutout of the season.
Despite making few show-stopping saves, LeNeveu’s good positioning and ability to stay square to shooters facing him ensured his success on the night.
“David played very well in the second period and made some big saves. With the two-nothing lead, I think he made two or three real good saves around the net; he was very, very solid throughout the course of the night,” said Schafer. “He played well, just like Matt (Underhill) did last night. They made their saves when they had to.”
Cornell dominated play in the first period, outshooting their opponents 13-2, although the score stood at a scoreless draw heading into the second. Though outplayed, Brown stayed in contention for practically the whole game thanks to good defense. Cornell’s offense generated 27 shots on the evening, but managed only a handful of quality scoring opportunities, as Brown did a commendable job of playing man-to-man coverage in its own zone.
The only real defensive breakdown of the night came for the Bears at 5:40 in the second, when Cornell winger Denis Ladouceur beat his man to a loose puck behind the net. Ladouceur immediately threw the puck in front, where unmarked Matt McRae snapped it past goaltender Yann Danis’ blocker with ease.
Cornell scored its second goal of the evening approximately ten minutes later when Krzyzstof Wieckowski swatted in a bouncing puck after ricochets off of several skates and sticks.
Next weekend, Cornell will look to continue its winning streak when it hosts Princeton and Yale. Brown, having come away from this weekend’s play in central New York without a point, looks to turn things around back in Rhode Island against Dartmouth and Vermont.