ITHACA, N.Y. — Cornell put on an impressive offensive game for the Lynah Faithful on Saturday night, as the 2002 Cleary Cup winners defeated Clarkson 5-3 thanks to two goals from Doug Murray and Ryan Vesce.
“I haven’t had a lot of scoring chances lately,” said Murray. “Sooner or later it would happen, and tonight it did.”
Cornell dominated the game early in the first period, keeping the puck bottled up in the Clarkson zone. Cornell’s offensive charge was countered by strong defense from the Golden Knights, as the Clarkson blueliners took away passing lanes and deflected Cornell shots.
Even though it was Cornell that had the early momentum, Clarkson broke the scoreless tie at 7:59 in the first. Clarkson goaltender Mike Walsh came out of his own net and sent a Cornell clearing attempt back up the ice along the glass. A diving Kerry Ellis-Toddington pushed the puck forward into the Big Red zone for Chris Line; he centered it for Kevin O’Flaherty, who put it in.
Within two minutes of the Clarkson tally, Cornell tied the game. Krzysztof Wieckowski drew the faceoff in the Clarkson zone back to Murray at the blueline along the left side, who shot it past Walsh.
The latter half of the period saw a reversal of play, with Clarkson putting heavy pressure on Cornell netminder Matt Underhill and the Cornell defense keeping the Golden Knights from regaining the lead. Late in the first period, the Big Red had a chance to take the lead when a Cornell shot went high on Walsh. The puck bounced up and away from the goaltender, but the referee had blown play dead before the puck went in.
Cornell came out of the first intermission with the same offensive intensity it had in the opening period. The pressure paid dividends when the Big Red took their first lead at 3:02 of the second.
Vesce skated with the puck into the left faceoff circle and stopped 10 feet in front of Walsh. He wristed a shot that gave Cornell a 2-1 lead.
The Golden Knights’ response came quickly. Jay Latulippe stole the puck from a Cornell stick in neutral ice and broke free into the Big Red zone. All alone against Underhill, Latulippe lifted it past the goaltender, knotting the game at two at 3:53.
Although Clarkson had tied the game, Cornell kept the momentum when Murray gave Cornell back the lead off a scramble in front.
Cornell extended its lead midway through the second period, scoring on the power play. A penalty to Latulippe for hooking gave the Big Red their second man-advantage of the evening, and Vesce made it count when he scored his second goal of the game. With the puck low on the left side of Walsh, Vesce skated towards the net and put his shot low past Walsh for a 4-2 Cornell lead at 10:21.
Clarkson answered back late in the second period, when Rob McFeeters put in his own rebound.
The third period saw a strong defensive showing by Cornell, as the Big Red thwarted any hope for the Golden Knights to tie the game. Stephen Bby sealed matters when he tallied an empty net goal at 19:04.
“I thought our guys did a really good job against a really good hockey team,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer. “We played very solid, the difference between last night and tonight was our scoring chances.”
Underhill made 21 saves for the Big Red and allowed three goals, while Walsh stopped 23 attempts and allowed four. Both teams went 1-for-2 on the power-play, as the contest was relatively clean up until the waning moments. Matt Poapst and O’Flaherty for Clarkson along with Shane Palahicky for Cornell were served game disqualifications. O’Flaherty’s second DQ of the year means that the junior will sit the remaining two games of the regular season.
“It’s the same thing that has been going on all year long, we lose our concentration for short periods of time,” said Clarkson head coach Mark Morris. “It’s something that we have to overcome.”
Clarkson will wrap up the regular season at home against Vermont and Dartmouth next weekend, while Cornell, which also captured the Ivy League Championship with a Dartmouth loss, will look to finish the season strong at Rensselaer and Union before it heads into the playoffs.