TROY, N.Y. — The Cleary Cup champion Cornell Big Red held off a late Rensselaer flurry to take a 2-1 victory Friday. The Engineers pressed in the last six minutes, but came up short as Cornell killed an Engineer power play, and two plays in which the Engineers could have tied the game were waved off by the officials.
After three special-teams goals, the Engineers thought they had tied the game in the third period as a shot came in on Cornell goaltender David LeNeveu. The puck went off him and sat wide to his left when he reached for it, but before he could get to it, it was put into the net off a bunch of bodies. The goal was waved off as referee Jeff Fulton whistled the play dead before the puck crossed the line.
Later in the third period with the Engineers on the power play, the puck bounced around to the right of LeNeveau and Matt Murley took a final whack at it. The puck appeared to be over the line along with a sprawled LeNeveau as the play was whistled. The goal judge put the light on, but after a discussion, the officials skated to the referee’s circle where the goal was waved off.
“He made the call, then he made the call — you have to move forward,” said Engineer head coach Dan Fridgen. “You can’t concern with yourself with it, and that’s the call, so you move on.”
After the Engineers had taken a 1-0 lead, the Big Red came back with two power-play goals, one in the first and one in the second period.
In the first period, puck movement was the key as Matt McRae received the puck and quickly snapped it high above Nathan Marsters’ glove hand to tie the game.
In the second, also on the power play, a pass from McRae tipped off of Denis Ladouceur straight to Krzystof Wieckowski, who had an open net for the 2-1 lead.
The game did not start on a good note for the Big Red. Matt Underhill, who was scheduled to start in net, took a shot in the warmup and did not return. That threw LeNeveu into the fire for the start and within the first three minutes of the game, he had to face a 5-on-3 power play in which ECAC leading scorer Marc Cavosie’s hard blast trickled past him for the 1-0 Engineer lead.
That, though, was the only goal Rensselaer would manage.
“Solid, solid as a rock. It was a tough situation for a young kid. We told David that Matt would start Friday and he said, ‘Coach, I’ll be ready,’ and he was,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer. “We got a lot of shots on the power play and if you’re going to beat Marsters, you have to get it in the upper part of the net. Right before that we had a great chance, but he Hasek-like threw his arm back and kept it out. And there was great patience on the second power play.”
“We played pretty well, aside from the two power-play goals,” said Fridgen. “We knew they had good special teams and we didn’t get the good shooting lanes. Nate played very well for us and we had to open it up in the third period and we left him out to dry a couple of times. But, he came up with some big saves and it was just inches on both ends. It was a well played hockey game from both ends.”
The Big Red (20-6-2, 16-3-2 ECAC) close out the regular season at Union on Saturday before taking on their role as number-one seed in the ECAC playoffs.
“It’s a good win for us and we did a solid job on the road,” said Schafer. “It was a rough way to start, to lose your goaltender on a shot in warmup and then to face a 5-on-3. It was a tough way to start a road trip against a good hockey team and then we got back in it on the power play. We moved it around.
“It was a good win against a good hockey team.”
The Engineers (15-12-4, 9-9-3 ECAC) remain in seventh place in the ECAC and have one shot at home ice — they must defeat Colgate and have Yale beat Brown Saturday.
“I thought we came at them pretty hard and a bounce here or there, but then again, we haven’t been handed anything all year long,” said Fridgen. “We’re totally expecting that we’ll have to work for the next 60 minutes tomorrow.”