ITHACA, N.Y. — After playing the equivalent of three regulation games in two nights, the Cornell Big Red beat the Clarkson Golden Knights in double overtime for the second night in a row. After having an overtime goal incorrectly disallowed on the previous night, senior captain Matt Moulson scored the game-winner in the last home game of his outstanding career in Ithaca.
The last of the Big Red’s 59 shots on the night, Moulson’s goal gave Cornell a sweep of Clarkson in the quarterfinal series of the ECACHL. The sweep took 179 minutes and 2 seconds and 113 Cornell shots.
“I always say play the percentages,” said Moulson. “One had to go in for me.”
“You’ve got to tip your hat to Clarkson,” said Cornell coach Mike Schafer. “They played really hard this weekend. We’re very fortunate, obviously, to win in overtime both nights and get an opportunity to go up to Albany and defend our championship.”
Cornell came out strong in the first period, outshooting the Golden Knights, 22-3. The Big Red grabbed the lead early on a scrappy power-play goal from senior Byron Bitz. With the puck loose and goaltender David Leggio down in front of the Clarkson net, Bitz and his power-play linemates, Topher Scott and Moulson, slapped at the rubber until Bitz managed to hit it around Leggio for the goal. Scott and Moulson recorded assists on the play.
The Big Red continued to dominate the first 20 minutes of play, forcing Leggio to make many tough stops in full strength and power play action, but like the night before, Clarkson found a way to bury one of its very few shots.
In even strength play, Clarkson senior Chris Brekelmans won the puck in the neutral zone, wound up for a slap shot, and took a long drive from well behind the blue line. His long distance delivery seemed to surprise the defense and goalie Dave McKee as it traveled through the air untouched to beat McKee in the air on the right blocker side.
Clarkson forced a more even game and took the edge in shots (9-6) during the second period. Right after Cornell killed off a penalty seven minutes into the period, the Big Red made a costly mistake by turning the puck over in their own zone. Clarkson forward Jamie McKinven intercepted the puck and found Max Kolu, who immediately rifled a slap shot past McKee from the center of the zone.
After failing to convert on two power plays in the period, Cornell began to put pressure on Leggio and the Clarkson defense with five minutes to go in the period challenging the Knights with a barrage of shots. Cornell finally found netting when Scott tied the score with a acrobatic diving backhanded shot to beat Leggio glove-side. Sasha Pokulok and Cam Abbott assisted
“Sasha kind of just threw it to the net,” said Scott. “Cam had a presence in front; he did a really good job tying the guy up. The puck kind of squirted right out to me. I didn’t even get much on the shot, but the goalie was down and out, so it just trickled by his glove.”
The third period and the first overtime period saw lots of penalties and special-teams plays and each team exchanged many scoring opportunities but were not able to convert.
The game’s most significant penalty came at the end first overtime as Ryan O’Byrne drew a five-minute hitting-from-behind penalty which carried over between the first and second overtime. The penalty forced only three minutes of Clarkson power play because Clarkson coach George Roll earned a two minute bench minor for running onto the ice after O’Byrne’s penalty. The Big Red were able to kill off the penalty and set up Moulson’s heroics, after two nights of struggling for a goal.
“I had my coach down from midgets, and had him dip my stick in the toilet,” said Moulson. “That was the good luck for me we used to do that back in midgets.
“I don’t think it could be scripted any better than this.”