ESTERO, Fla. — For two schools that are just 75 miles apart, it took a 1,400 mile trip for Colgate and Cornell to meet in any sort of championship game.
As such, it’s no surprise that neither regulation nor overtime was enough to decide the title of the Florida College Classic.
After the teams skated to a 2-2 tie in regulation and a five-minute overtime, Cornell forward Blake Gallagher and defenseman Jared Seminoff each tallied goals in a five-round shootout while Big Red netminder Ben Scrivens (14 saves through overtime) stopped all five Colgate shooters to earn the Ned Harkness cup as tournament champion.
Scrivens was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player and was presented with the Shawn Walsh Trophy.
While Gallagher might have been a conventional selection to attempt a penalty shot, Seminoff, who has just three career goals in his three-plus seasons with the Big Red, was hardly expected to make the lineup, until he won the team’s own penalty shot competition before they left Ithaca for Florida.
“I promised whoever won [the shootout before the tournament] that they’d be part of any shootouts we played down here,” said Cornell coach Mike Schafer. “He’s not a regular but he came through.”
“I’m not really known as a shootout kind of guy,” Seminoff, who admitted that he thought his goal won the shootout until he realized Scrivens would need one more stop to cinch the title. “I was pretty nervous but I just went with what the goalie gave me and it worked out.”
Colgate, who entered the tournament with the worst record of the four teams participating, had plenty to be proud of. Coach Don Vaughan said that he hopes this will be a momentum builder as his team heads into the new year.
“We talked about [using this tournament for momentum] coming into this weekend,” said Vaughan. “We struggled through November and into December in terms of generating offense. We were in a lot of tight, low scoring games where we just didn’t get ‘W’s.’ The longer you go without getting a win, it’s hard to keep the energy up.
“So there are a lot of positives and confidence that we can carry out of this weekend.”
The opening twenty minutes featured up-and-down action with Colgate holding an advantage both territorially and on the scoreboard.
After failing to convert on numerous odd-man rushes early, the Raiders got on the board at 10:34, when Austin Smith picked up a Cornell turnover in the offensive zone and walk in alone, pulling the puck around Scrivens on the stick side.
Later in the period, while shorthanded, Ethan Cox blocked a shot at the Colgate defensive blue line, made a move around the Cornell defender in the neutral zone and walked in alone, wristing a shot off the left post and in for a 2-0 Raiders’ lead.
Colgate nearly extended the lead further late when defenseman Nick St. Pierre came out of the penalty box to pick up a loose puck in the neutral zone. Pushing the puck a bit too far ahead of himself allowed Scrivens to challenge him, sliding to break up the play at the top of the right faceoff circle.
In the second, Colgate continued to use odd-man rushes to generate quality chances, but the Raiders struggled to generate quality shots and when they did put it on net Scrivens was up to the test.
“That’s something that we’ve been stressing: we don’t shoot the puck enough,” said Vaughan. “We’re waiting for that perfect opportunity and we’re continuing to preach that to our guys.”
In the meantime, Colgate’s inability to capitalize led to Cornell scoring twice to draw even thanks to the power play and some puck luck.
With Colgate shorthanded, defenseman David Sloane was sent off for interference, giving the Big Red a two-man advantage. Though the Raiders killed the first penalty, Gallagher was able to net his first goal of the season at 6:48 to get Cornell on the board.
Late in the period a fluke play led to the Big Red knotting things. Senior Michael Kennedy sent a shot from the right half boards on net. Raiders’ netminder Charles Long (18 saves through overtime) made the save, but the rebound bounced off his blocker then off the leg of his defenseman before it trickled between the netminder’s legs at 15:21.
In the third, Cornell controlled much of the play, but Long was at the top of his game. The only shot to beat him came from Kennedy, who fired a wrist shot early in the frame that sailed over Long’s glove but hit the crossbar.
The overtime presented Colgate with a perfect opportunity to take home the title when Cornell’s Sean Collins was sent off for tripping with 3:02 remaining. That was when the Big Red defense stepped up to keep the Raiders from generating a single shot. Cornell killed all three Colgate power plays on the evening while scoring once in seven opportunities itself.
From there, neither team relented defensively and it was up to the shootout to decide the champion.
In addition to Scrivens being named MVP, Cornell defenseman Brendon Nash and forward Gallagher, Colgate goaltender Long and forward Smith, Maine defenseman Matt Duffy and St. Cloud forward Ryan Lasch were named to the tournaments all tournament team.