HAMILTON, N.Y. — After generating only a sparse few scoring chances throughout the third period and overtime, Colgate took advantage of a late rush when sophomore Adam Mitchell picked up a rebound and fired it past Cornell goalie David LeNeveu and into the back of the net to give the Raiders an unlikely victory over the visiting Big Red 2-1 at Starr Rink.
Confusion ensued, as referee Alex Dell initially signaled emphatically that the net had come off of its moorings before the goal. Linesman Kevin Sullivan quickly skated into the action to reverse the call, however, as he convinced Dell that the puck crossed the line first. The reversal frustrated Cornell (16-4-0, 11-2-0 ECAC) head coach Mike Schafer and his team, as they argued well after Colgate (9-13-3, 4-7-2) left the ice.
“David [LeNeveu] told me that the net came off of its moorings and that’s why it beat him short side,” said an agitated Schafer. “The head official waved the goal off, and the linesman called it. I mean, I just don’t know.”
Cornell dominated the game from start to finish, outshooting the Raiders 32-18 and launching an assault on both posts and the crossbar.
“I think we hit six goalposts tonight and two crossbars,” said Schafer. “It was a night where the puck wasn’t finding the back of the net. Things could have been a lot better if a couple of those shots went in off of the posts. The kid [Colgate netminder Steve Silverthorn] made some unbelievable saves for them too, so you’ve got to give their goaltender a lot of credit as well.”
After surrendering a sloppy rebound goal to Big Red’s Shane Hynes less than two minutes into the opening period, Silverthorn proved spectacular in net, making saves that even brought premature celebrations by the Cornell attackers to a halt.
“Thorny looked a little shaky early,” said Raider head coach Don Vaughan. “But he did a real good job after that of playing his angles. They hit a few goalposts, but you could look at that as good goaltending. He was out at his angles and that’s all they had.”
The early goal by the visitors seemed an omen of the blowout predicted by many entering the contest. But following a five-minute major penalty to Big Red’s Greg Hornby for checking from behind, Colgate’s Dmitry Yashin redirected a Kyle Doyle shot through the legs of LeNeveu to tie the game. The nets remained empty until three minutes into the overtime period.
This was not for lack of trying by Cornell. The referees awarded the Big Red five power plays during the game, as Colgate players attempted to gain any advantage possible over their physically-dominant opponents.
“It’s hard to get second chances when their guys are laying on our guys in the slot,” said Schafer. “I’m sorry we didn’t bring our saddles from Cornell, because there was a lot of riding time out there tonight.”
But Raider coach Vaughan saw his team’s physicality and penalty-killing efforts in a different light.
“We tried to match them physically, and we do what we can to try to limit their opportunities,” he said. “But I thought it was pretty even when it came to that. I thought they were doing a lot of that too. You have to play that way against them. They control the boards so well, and work very hard. On the penalty kill we tried to eliminate shooting lanes and we tried to control the big guy at the top [Stephen Baby]. And we did a good job tonight.”
After hanging around throughout the third period and the first three minutes of the overtime frame, the Raiders finally got their chance. Mitchell buried the opportunity for his second big goal in as many weeks. The forward tallied the game-tying goal late against St. Lawrence only one week ago.
“[Adam] was a great recruit for us,” said Vaughan. “We knew we’d have a great player there. I think what everybody wants is for these kids to do that the first day they step on the ice. But it’s a developing process, and he’s developing into the player we thought he’d be.”
The goal ignited the home crowd, which shook with the energy that comes from a college rivalry for much of the night.
“I need to say this,” urged Vaughan. “I think that the crowd tonight was the sixth man. They really were a big part of the win tonight. The guys on the bench would feel the energy in the building. I just hope we can continue to draw like that, because they were a big part of it tonight.”
The Raiders now travel to one of the most dynamic crowds in hockey at Lynah Rink, as Colgate and Cornell are set to face off in the back end of their home-and-home series on Saturday night.