ITHACA, N.Y. — Ken Dryden stands alone, at least for one more game.
Colgate’s Joey Mormina scored on a slap shot with 1:42 remaining, putting the only blemish on Cornell’s night and spoiling goaltender Dave LeNeveu’s chance for his sixth shutout of the season. Dryden had six for Cornell in 1967-68, a school single-season record.
Otherwise, the Big Red (17-4-0, 12-2-0 ECAC) did pretty much what it wanted against Colgate (9-14-3, 4-8-2), two days after stubbing their toe in a 2-1 overtime loss in Hamilton. Despite a “messy” second period, Cornell controlled play in a 3-1 win at Lynah Rink on Saturday.
Meanwhile, LeNeveu improved to 15-2 and lowered his league-leading goals against average by a hair.
After storming out to a 2-0 lead and a 14-2 shot edge in the first period, the second period was dotted with numerous “aggressive” penalties, and four power plays for Colgate. Cornell also completely dominated the period physically, and had numerous big open ice hits. Some of them, however, led to penalties, fairly or unfairly.
“I hit a guy about this high,” said Cornell’s Shane Hynes, pointing near his chest. “It’s not easy to hit guys like that. I hit him in the head. Where else am I gonna hit him? But you just have to stay more disciplined I guess.”
On one play, Greg Hornby laid three open-ice hits in a row, then got retaliated against by Zac Tataryn. Both players went off, further frustrating the Big Red. Ultimately, however, they would only blame themselves for keeping Colgate in the game.
“We shouldn’t put ourselves in that position like that,” said Cornell captain Doug Murray. “Especially the way we were dominating the first period. There’s no reason for us to come out and take stupid penalties and retaliatory penalties.”
Cornell reasserted itself in the third period, and even though the vaunted No. 1 power-play unit still hasn’t scored in four games, the second unit came through. A 3-on-1 was created after a failed shorthanded rush, and Dan Pegoraro converted on the back end to make it 3-0 with 3:52 remaining.
Cornell’s power play had been 1 for its last 19 before that goal, and that one was on a 5-on-3. In Thursday’s OT loss, the power play was 0-for-5, despite numerous high-quality chances. But, the drought is not giving Doug Murray too much cause for concern.
“It’s something that happens during the season,” said Murray. “We’ve been together for three years now. We had other times where we’ve been frustrated, but what makes us more mad is [Thursday] where we should’ve won the game for us, and we didn’t.
“But as long as we win the game, it’s not that big of deal, because we know we’re going to come around at some point. It’s not like we’ve been playing that bad, we’re just not finishing.”
As expected, Cornell came out flying, trying to erase the memory of Thursday’s loss. Chris Abbott eventually got one past Colgate goalie Steve Silverthorn at 7:58, as he took a drop pass from brother Cam, and blistered a slap shot into the corner.
“It was nice to get one. We hadn’t had one in a while,” said Chris Abbott. “I owe to my linemates. Cam gave me a nice pass, and Hornby drove to net, and I was lucky to have it go in.”
The play actually started when Doug Murray flattened Colgate’s Ryan Smith along the boards in the defensive zone, and sprung the puck loose for Greg Hornby, leaving Murray in need of a “third assist” rule.
“I did [see it],” Abbott said. “It was quite a hit. Actually, I was caught looking at it for a while.”
The second Cornell goal came off a clean win of a faceoff by Matt McRae. He got it to brother Mark at the point, who moved to the slot and took a shot that Silverthorn left a rebound on. Hynes appeared to bang it in, but Silverthorn managed to barely keep it out of the net, only to have Sam Paolini finally pounce on it.
“I was lucky to get my stick on it, actually,” Hynes said. “I thought it went in, but the goalie got his paddle on it and it was just lying there for Sam to knock it in. I was behind the net with my hands in the air.”
Hynes had two assists on the night, and the 6-foot-3, 210-pound freshman has been a force lately, finally rid of a nagging hip and groin injury, and drawing a lot of attention from pro scouts.
“I have no nagging injuries or anything,” Hynes said. “I’m definitely feeling a lot better than the first half of the year. Just hopefully, no more injuries, and our line is playing great.”
Still, Hynes felt he and his teammates left more room for improvement.
“The intensity again was not great,” Hynes said. “We didn’t play Big Red hockey and we didn’t stay as disciplined as we’d like either. We got the win and that’s what counts in the long run, but we definitely didn’t play as well as we could.”
Cornell stays home to face Dartmouth on Friday, a team that’s been an absolute nemesis in recent years. The Big Green are 9-0-1 in the last 10 meetings against Cornell.
“We have to concentrate on ourselves,” said Murray, about his last chance to beat Dartmouth — potential playoff meeting notwithstanding. “We have to get back to the way we play. There’s no team that can play with us when we play our way for 60 minutes.”