POTSDAM, N.Y. — Both teams had reasons to be pleased, but neither one was satisfied. And that’s probably a good thing.
Cornell and Clarkson harkened back to rivalry days of old, battling to a hard-fought 2-2 tie at Cheel Arena on Friday night.
Clarkson used an old-is-new, up-tempo, aggressive style to pressure Cornell all night, and made just a handful of mistakes. Two of them, however, by freshman defenseman Michael Grenzy — who played a very good game otherwise — were critical, as the Big Red rallied from a pair of one-goal deficits.
On the tying goal, Grenzy looked to skate it out of the zone, but Chris Abbott checked him, spun him around and knocked him down to take the puck away. Abbott floated it towards the net, where brother Cam banged a one-time chip shot on net that goalie Dustin Traylen couldn’t handle. That left Greg Hornby alone to put the rebound into the open net.
The teams traded good chances the rest of the night, and in overtime, Clarkson had a power play. But the power play generated no shots, and Cornell had three good scoring opportunities in the final 90 seconds, only to be denied by Traylen.
Clarkson (4-2-3, 1-1-1 ECAC) is now 0-1-3 in overtimes, and while the team is playing much better this season, it is still frustrated by late goals that cost the Golden Knights some wins.
“We can’t be happy with a tie. We should’ve won that game,” said Clarkson senior Trevor Edwards. “Colorado College, Bemidji, those are games we had the lead in the third period, and we’re going to have to get better to win those games, and we should win those games.
“We can’t be satisfied with a tie. But at the same time, we’re playing well and we’re going to win those games down the road.”
Despite his team’s comeback and strong play in the final 25 minutes, Cornell coach Mike Schafer was much stronger in his disappointment.
“We sleepwalked,” Schafer said. “I was more disappointed in a Cornell hockey team than I’ve been for quite some time.
“I like the fact that they somehow scraped a point out on the road, but when you don’t have the work ethic, it doesn’t matter what else happens. When you come out and aren’t ready to lay it on the line, it doesn’t matter what everybody else does, it’s not acceptable.”
Clarkson came out strong in the first period, and took it to the Big Red. The Golden Knights beat Cornell to most loose pucks, and were able to force bad clears. That resulted in the first goal, as Tristan Lush stole the puck, turned and fired it towards the net, sneaking it through the five hole of a screened David McKee.
“We’re a different team from last year,” Edwards said. “We play at a much higher tempo, we like to take the play to them. And I thought we did a much better job tonight getting the puck down deep and really competing hard for loose pucks, and trying to keep the pressure on them. In other years, we’ve given them way too much respect. This is our barn; we wanted to play physical with them and push them around, and go to the net hard.
“Coach Roll encourages you to go out and make plays. If you’re going to make a mistake, make it hard. And we do that … we go out and we’re going to make mistakes, but we’re going to get better as the year goes on.”
Cornell (2-1-2, 2-0-1) picked up its play in the second period, and tied it on another mistake by Grenzy. Grenzy made a strong play to take the puck away along the boards, but as he skated up ice, Hornby stripped it from behind. With his back to the net, Hornby fed it to the point, and Charlie Cook’s slapper was deflected in by Cam Abbott.
The Golden Knights got the goal right back, as Lyon Porter forced another Cornell turnover. Porter a weak shot on net that McKee stopped with his stick, but McKee mishandled the rebound and left it for John Sullivan to poke in high.
“In the first and second, we didn’t play as hard as we should’ve, we were a little tentative,” said Cornell captain Ryan Vesce, who was named USCHO.com national offensive Player of the Week after scoring nine points in two games. But he was shut out against Clarkson.
“Guys were letting things happen instead of trying to make things happen. In the third we came back and played a lot harder, but it just seemed to come in spurts tonight.”
Both teams were 0-for-4 on the power play.
Things got feisty in the third, when a number of goalmouth scrambles led to some post-whistle scuffling. One in particular, with just over five minutes left in regulation, led to Clarkson’s Jeff Genovy and Cornell’s Shane Hynes getting called for 12 total minutes in penalties, sidelining them for the rest of the night.
Throughout the third, Schafer mixed up the lines, partly because forward Dan Pegoraro left the game late in the second period.
“There was a necessity to find nine to 10 guys that wanted to actually work hard consistently,” Schafer said. “When you don’t have four lines willing to go … you have to shuffle things up for people to start to produce.”