ITHACA, N.Y. — The Cornell Big Red used speed and their power-play opportunities to skate away with a 5-3 victory over the RIT Tigers.
Five different Cornell players scored en route to victory, three of them coming in power-play situations in a game where the two teams took a total of twenty-one penalties. Rule emphasis on interference and hooking calls would be an obvious excuse for the amount of penalties, but RIT coach Wayne Wilson was quick to remove blame from the referees.
“As disappointed as I am with the penalties we took, I thought that was maybe that was the best officiating game as far as being consistent from start to finish on the new rules.”
Cornell boss Mike Schafer agreed, adding that “It’s not about the referee, it’s about our guys not putting themselves in situations where the referee will call a penalty.”
The RIT Tigers came out strong in the first period, attacking Cornell all over the ice and outshooting the Big Red. However, an opportunistic Cornell team found the net three times despite only generating eight shots on goal. They also successfully defended four man-down situations, limiting RIT to only nine shots and one goal on ten power plays during the entire game. This included five instances where RIT could not manage a power-play shot.
Senior Mark McCutcheon highlighted the special teams aspect, of which he is a key factor, in after the game. “I think that’s the biggest thing we have to get going now, both special teams. With the new rules that’s the way things are going, you have to have special teams going well to produce wins.”
Mitch Carefoot was the first to score in the game, stuffing home a rebound created from Byron Bitz in a virtually open net. To start the play, Cornell’s defense broke up a potential shorthanded goal from an RIT two-on-one rush. Freshman Blake Gallagher netted his first goal of the season on another Cornell power play, when an attempted centering pass was deflected off an RIT player into the net.
RIT got on the board with a goal from Justin Hofstetter, who floated a wrist shot past a screened Troy Davenport into the top right corner of the net. However Cornell answered right back with a goal from Topher Scott, who sent a wrist shot sailing past RIT’s Louis Menard, with assists from line mates Tony Romano and Evan Barlow. Romano finished the night with two assists, while Scott added two assists to his first period goal.
“When [Romano] gets out to open ice with the puck he can be creative and he’s got real good speed and hands. I thought Barlow, Scott, and Romano used their speed to create offense,” Schafer said.
That line produced another goal in the second period, when Scott brought the puck into the zone and passed back to Romano. His shot ricocheted off Doug Krantz’s skate and into the net, giving Cornell their fourth goal of the night and a 4-1 lead.
The Tiger’s Brent Patry fired a shot from the slot past Davenport for RIT’s second goal of the night, but Cornell was quick to respond again. Playing a man up a minute and half later, Mark McCutcheon’s slap shot found its way through Menard’s five hole, with assists from Scott and defenseman Jared Seminoff. At the game’s end ten different Cornell skaters were credited with points on the scoresheet.
Schafer attributed the win to a complete team effort, “Different guys contributed in so many ways tonight. Production is just the end result, getting it in the back of the net, but there was a lot of good effort by a lot of guys including our older guys to score goals.”
The third period remained scoreless until the final 15 seconds, when RIT’s Steve Pinizzotto stuffed home a rebound in front of the net. The Tigers replaced Menard with Junior Jocelyn Guimond at the beginning of the third. Guimond turned in a solid performance, making 15 saves in the final stanza, matching Menard’s game total as well. Troy Davenport finished the game with 20 saves for Cornell.
Scott was quick to point out the defense’s solid play so far this season. “I think our defense has stepped up well. A lot of people had questions about them, but as a team we’re confident with all six of the guys we have in our line up, as well as Troy.”
Cornell takes their 2-0 team on the road to Brown and Yale next week. RIT, who falls to 3-4-1 plays two games at Air Force Academy next weekend.