Time had brought change to East Hill. Cornell had proven during the 2002-03 season and in subsequent seasons that its skaters could compete with the best in the nation. The hockey program of the Big Red had returned to the elite of college hockey, but its facilities lagged behind those of its peer hockey programs. Loyal members of the Lynah Faithful decided to keep Lynah Rink as their second home and the home of Cornell hockey while renovating it with over $8.0 million in gifts.
The facilities at Cornell after renovation were the best in college hockey. The family atmosphere of the locker rooms and Rink remained. Adding external concourses, extending seating to the walls of the concourses, and closing the open end of Lynah Rink’s bowl with a balcony of seats expanded the capacity of the arena’s bowl by 464 seats. Lynah Rink was a new and revitalized facility at the beginning of the 2007-08 season. The new building was without a championship title of its own.
Cornell had continued to compete nationally. Cornell had ended three seasons since winning its 11th Whitelaw Cup one game short of reaching the Frozen Four. The Big Red suffered this fate in 2005 against Minnesota, 2006 against Wisconsin, and 2009 against Bemidji State. The sting of four seasons without a tournament championship became particularly keen after the 2008-09 season.
Several ECAC Tournaments had left players from East Hill deeply disappointed. Cornell exited the 2007 ECAC Tournament during a quarterfinal series at home. The 2008 ECAC Championship Semifinals had Cornell enduring a loss to Harvard. Yale ended Cornell's bid for a Whitelaw Cup in the 2009 ECAC Championship Final despite the double-overtime heroics of captain Colin Greening against Princeton in the preceding semifinal contest. Cornell had inched one game closer to securing the program’s 12th ECAC Championship over four seasons.
Cornell's detractors were not satisfied. Voices of these detractors remarked during the preseason how at the end of the 2009-10 season it would have been five years since a Cornell team hung another ECAC Championship banner. These commentaries concluded often with the argument that Cornell was going to enter another period of dormancy. They could not have been more incorrect.
The players from the Class of 2009 from Cornell University graduated without bringing a Whitelaw Cup to East Hill. The senior class that followed them was determined that it would not face a similar fate. Ben Scrivens summarized this sentiment well. "Very few classes come through the Cornell hockey pipeline without experiencing a championship season. The previous senior class was one of those, and we were determined not to follow suit."
The Class of 2010 was unique. It is common for programs to resemble the demeanor of their coaches. It is even ordinary for a particular player on a team to adopt the standards and values of his coach. It is extraordinary for a group of players to internalize all three. Members of the Class of 2010 did just that. Winning an ECAC Championship was among those of Mike Schafer.
Blake Gallagher, Colin Greening, Justin Krueger, Brendon Nash, Joe Scali, and Ben Scrivens were those among the senior class who led the junior, sophomore, and freshman classes in buying into working to win a Whitelaw Cup. Blake Gallagher, Colin Greening, and Brendon Nash solidified their roles as point producers during the 2008-09 campaign. Juniors Riley Nash and Patrick Kennedy, and sophomores Joe Devin and Mike Devin completed the list of seven of Cornell's top-ten point producers from the previous season who were returning.
Leadership on the ice would have considerable consistency. Colin Greening would wear the captain's C for the second consecutive season. The import from St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador made history as the first Cornell sophomore to wear a letter. His sweater was adorned with the A of an alternate captain during his mere second season on East Hill. Greening had become known as the epitome of a captain on the ice and had become a paragon of what was expected of a captain who wore carnelian and white. The Newfoundlander was skilled and disciplined as a skater on the ice and motivator off of it.
The history of Cornell hockey indicates that the championship hopes of the Big Red live and die between the pipes. Senior goaltender Ben Scrivens was suited to backstop a championship run. His performance at midseason during his junior season had The New York Times recognizing him as one of the best goaltenders among the collegiate ranks. Scrivens was determined to improve before his senior season. Nate Leaman, head coach of the Union Dutchmen and 2010 ECAC Tournament opponent of Cornell, had been convinced of Scrivens's improvement by season's end. He would remark then that "I’ve seen McKee and I’ve seen LeNeveu and I believe he’s better than both of them and they were both Hobey-Baker finalists."
The cast was more than talented and the stage more than set for the 2009-10 team to make an impact. Cornell confronted its usual slate of in-conference adversaries during the 2009-10 season. It was the Big Red's out-of-conference schedule that overflowed with the opportunity of challenge. Niagara, Boston University, Colorado College, New Hampshire, and North Dakota dotted Cornell's detours from intraconference play. This schedule ensured that Cornell would be tested against the best in college hockey when it began its quest for playoff glory.
Cornell would begin its season at refurbished Lynah Rink. The Purple Eagles of Niagara University would challenge the Big Red. Few thought that the Atlantic Hockey foe from Western New York would provide an insurmountable challenge for any team bound for eventual glory. Niagara scored the first goal of the season at Lynah Rink. Cornell's captain would rebut. A power-play goal from Patrick Kennedy gave the Big Red the go-ahead goal in the second period. Then, the visitors responded in kind to knot the game. The third stanza saw no scoring.
Cornell did not expect the need for an extra frame against Niagara. A slight air of despair overcame some. The Big Red would escape the game with a win. Joe Devin scored an overtime goal at 1:42 showing a knack for scoring important game-winning goals that would come to define his career on East Hill. The first week of regular-season play was somewhat unsettling. Niagara was a respectable team, but the 2009-10 squad yearned for more than respect. The next weekend of the season loomed large. Dartmouth visited on Friday. Harvard followed the Big Green on Saturday.
The Big Red made quick work of the Big Green. Dartmouth did not score its first goal until less than 15 minutes remained. Red skaters had tallied four by that time. Cornell sent Dartmouth up the road to Hamilton, NY with a 5-1 loss as a parting gift.
The annually circled game of the regular season at Lynah Rink took place early during the 2009-10 season. The clash of archrivals had both rosters ready for what would become an instant classic. The Crimson scored the lone first-period goal. Patrick Kennedy scored 4:04 of the second period. Harvard answer with two more goals. Mike Devin responded. Cornell confronted a one-goal deficit when the carnelian-and-white skaters returned to their locker room.
The seniors ensured that concern did not enter the locker room. The lesson for the intermission was confidence. The team knew what talent was on that squad. Cornell needed to be confident enough to put it into action. Blake Gallagher connected with Joe Devin for the tying goal at 2:27 of the third period. The game was knotted. Joe Devin waited just three minutes and 32 seconds to give the Big Red a go-ahead tally. The Crimson had begun to find itself mired in the defensive play of the Red.
Cornell was far from done. Gallagher decided that a helper on the evening was insufficient and tallied the fifth Red goal of the evening before ten minutes had expired in the third period. The final tally of the game belonged to freshman Greg Miller who showed a flash of his scoring abilities when he arced a shot from the left face-off circle over Harvard's Carroll. Miller's goal was the final of the evening. A four-goal third period gave Cornell a 6-3 come-from-behind win over Harvard. The confidence that was in Cornell's locker room during the second intermission of the first Harvard contest would not leave.
The Red continued to roll toward the second edition of Red Hot Hockey. Cornell suffered defeat at Ingalls Rink when the Big Red fell in a rematch of the 2009 ECAC Championship Final. An empty-net goal expanded the margin of victory to a 4-2 final score. Cornell accumulated wins against Brown, Princeton, and Colgate while suffering a loss to Quinnipiac before the Big Red traveled to the Big Apple. The Big Red had outpaced its opponents in those three wins by a margin of 15 goals to four goals.
A meeting with Boston University at Madison Square Garden for the second edition of Red Hot Hockey provided Cornell with a chance at redemption. Cornell had lost to the Terriers in a 6-3 game in the first edition. Boston University had won its fifth national title in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. The Terriers scored two goals in the last minute of regulation and capped off its rally with an overtime goal to defeat the Miami RedHawks.
Cornell did not wait long to open scoring. Sean Whitney, a sophomore defenseman who hailed from Scituate, MA, converted on a play from Blake Gallagher and Colin Greening putting Cornell ahead of the Boston-area Terriers. Locke Jillson scored to give Cornell a two-goal buffer. The first half of the second period bore ill omens for Cornell. Cornell's dominant power-play unit surrendered a shorthanded goal to Boston University. Brendon Nash and Sean Whitney waited less than 90 seconds to assist Blake Gallagher in reopening Cornell's lead to two goals.
A two-goal lead was sufficient for most Schafer-coached teams to win any contest. One can assume that the Terriers and Jack Parker were determined not to fall to their historic rival. Boston University bested Scrivens when less than five minutes had elapsed in the third period. The Terriers had a late third-period power play. They would convert. The game was tied. No goals were scored in the overtime frame. The 2009-10 Cornell team had come within 51 seconds of defeating the reigning national champion. It was not satisfied. It had raised the expectations of Cornell hockey.
Cornell closed out the first half of its season with contests in the Capital District. The Engineers fell to Cornell at Houston Field House. Nate Leaman's Dutchmen staved off the Red onslaught for a tie. Final exams and winter break followed those contests. The next games for the Big Red were those played in the Florida College Classic. Cornell's first contest was against Colorado College.
Greg Miller and Colin Greening would score for Cornell against Colorado College. Nonetheless, the woes of Cornell in Florida continued. Colorado College advanced in Cornell's holiday tournament while the Big Red fell to Princeton in the consolation game. The game against Colorado College was the first out-of-conference test that the 2009-10 team had dropped.
Schafer kept his talented team in Florida to prepare for its next challenge of the season. The team's and his efforts would be rewarded handsomely. Cornell next traveled to Durham, NH to attempt to tame the Wildcats. The Whittemore Center was a fearsome venue for most. The fans of New Hampshire hockey are known for their zeal. It was not this aspect of the game that provided Cornell with the greatest opportunity. Cornell was accustomed to the boisterousness of the Lynah Faithful. What Cornell saw in the contest on New Hampshire's Olympic sheet was the chance to refute decisively the criticism that Cornell teams remained "big and slow."
Cornell dominated the game against New Hampshire. Schafer would remark later that "we beat them badly." Cornell on even strength hemmed the Wildcats in their own end and ground them down with relentless and flawless cycling. Some commentators remarked that Cornell gave New Hampshire a clinic. Blake Gallagher, Patrick Kennedy, Sean Collins, and Riley Nash scored goals. Solid defensive play declawed the Wildcats in their own rink.
The performance of senior forward Joe Scali was particularly noteworthy. Scali appeared as a man possessed with his indefatigable efforts at blocking shots. He was rewarded with the empty-net tally for the Big Red. Cornell had dominated New Hampshire in terms of speed and physicality. Cornell was one shot in deficit of outshooting the Wildcats by a ratio of two to one. Cornell left the Granite State with a satisfying 5-2 victory.
A trip through the North Country was next on the schedule. The 2009-10 season suffered a major setback in the week between the New Hampshire contest and the trip to Clarkson and St. Lawrence. Stomach flu plagued 17 members of the roster. Schafer and his assistants at one point were fearful that the Big Red would not have enough players for the contests. The Class of 2010 had never won at Cheel or Appleton Arenas. Illness would not deny them. The Golden Knights fell to Cornell. The Saints settled for a tie. The turnaround from weakening illness was made more daunting with the test that awaited the team next at Lynah Rink: North Dakota.
Cornell had stunned 11,450 spectators at Ralph Engelstad Arena in November 2008. Schafer had coached Cornell to a 2-1 victory over the dominant Sioux at their own rink. Dave Hakstol and his Fighting Sioux squad wished to return the favor at Lynah Rink with a sweep. Cornell was still reeling from sickness. The Lynah Faithful and Ben Scrivens were up to the challenge.
North Dakota brought to Lynah Rink its typical fast-paced style. Cornell kept pace. The recovering Red slowed the Sioux and dictated the tempo of the game. Cornell did this both nights in the two-game series. High-scoring North Dakota was held without a goal the first evening. Cornell did not solve North Dakota's Dell in the first two period.
Scrivens stood tall and gave Cornell a chance to win the contest in front of the Lynah Faithful. The senior made 28 saves against one of the most storied programs in college hockey. Defenseman Mike Devin saved his brother the trouble and recorded the game-winning goal in the first two minutes of the third period. Cornell won 1-0.
North Dakota struck early the second evening. Cornell had no answer. The talented offensive might of Cornell generated more opportunities in the second game. The bounces were less favorable to the Red. The game was more evenly matched. North Dakota tallied again in the second half of the third period. Blake Gallagher scored with ten seconds remaining in the contest to make the score 2-1. The Sioux added an empty-net goal. Cornell had garnered a split.
Cornell may not have claimed the sweep that it desired, but the 2009-10 team had taken strides at retiring the already hackneyed refrain of fans leveled at Cornell. The expression went "big and slow is no way to go." The Red skaters from the 2009-10 season proved on an Olympic sheet and against a team that lives by the mantra "speed kills" that Cornell was no longer going that way.
Cornell earned a 0.500 record against the best programs in college hockey. It was ready to bring a Whitelaw Cup back to Lynah Rink. Cornell won four of its next five ECAC contests. The middle of February brought clarity as to which teams were competing for the Conference's regular-season title. Cornell and Yale were dueling atop the ECAC standings. Cornell hosted Yale in its next contest. A win would allow Cornell to overtake the Elis.
Keith Allain had taken the helm at Yale before the 2006-07 season. He told Yale's administration and his Bulldogs that the system he implemented at Yale would be designed to guarantee national competitiveness and playoff success. A system designed for a seemingly more modest goal would achieve both ends he said. His system was crafted to defeat Cornell. Allain had brought Yale its first championship in 2009 with a win over Cornell.
The Cornell-Yale clash in February 2010 was essential. It was the first rematch in front of the Lynah Faithful. Colin Greening scored at 6:49 of the first period. Cornell almost immediately retrenched into a defensive shell. The ice then slanted decidedly in the Bulldogs's favor. Cornell kept the Elis off the scoresheet until the final 6:12 of the second period. The third period witnessed no scoring. Ben Scrivens at times single-handedly controlled the game. He delivered 52 saves in a spectacular performance. However, the Bulldogs solved Scrivens when a puck found itself in the back of the net 3:17 into overtime.
The sting of the Yale loss slowly dissipated when Cornell defeated regional rival Colgate 6-2 at Starr Rink. Three days later Harvard would host Cornell at Bright Hockey Center. Lynah East was in all of its expected glory for the second meeting of the archrivals. The second game between Cornell and Harvard would be very unlike the first. Whereas the first game required a late offensive explosion for a rally, Cornell dominated the second game from the opening face-off.
Neither the Big Red nor the Crimson scored in the first frame. Cornell challenged on several occasions. Ben Scrivens noticeably got into an effortless flow. Harvard would need to do something extraordinary to best him that evening. Tyler Roeszler and Keir Ross scored within 15 seconds of each other at the midpoint of the second period to eviscerate the deadlock.
Ben Scrivens continued to answer every bid that the Cantabs unleashed in his direction. Blake Gallagher scored an empty-net goal as the final seconds of the third period ticked away. Cornell completed the sweep of the Crimson. Ben Scrivens had earned a shutout at Harvard. He became the first Cornell netminder in 43 years to accomplish that feat. Ken Dryden and Ben Scrivens stood as the only Cornell goaltenders to pitch a shutout at Harvard at the end of that evening. Each did it only once.
Cornell suffered a hangover the next evening as the 2009-10 team fell at Thompson Arena of Dartmouth College. The Big Red closed out the season with a three-point weekend against Union and RPI. Cornell ended the regular season one point behind Yale in the ECAC standings. The Bulldogs entered the 2010 ECAC Tournament as the first seed. Cornell was the second seed. Cornell would use its bye week to nurse injuries and prepare to bring a title to Lynah Rink.
No one could have expected how the playoffs would unfold. The 2010 ECAC Tournament was historic.
Brown defeated RPI at Houston Field House in three games. The Elis had earned the right to play the Bears as the lowest remaining seed. Most eyes on East Hill were anticipating a rematch with Keith Allain's Yale squad. Harvard swept Princeton at Hobey Baker Rink. The victory gave the Crimson the right to continue in the playoffs at Lynah Rink.
Cornell and the Lynah Faithful were consumed with anticipation the week before the 2010 ECAC Quarterfinals. The campus and community knew the significance of beginning the playoffs against the Crimson. The sentiments were the same from Harvard Square. Editorials in The Harvard Crimson declared that Cornell had eclipsed Yale as the most hated foe of the Crimson. When Friday March 12, 2010 arrived, nary a fish could be found at Wegmans in Ithaca.
Harvard took the ice with the ritualistic deluge of fish. Lynah Rink was buzzing. Few knew what was about to occur as Arthur Mintz announced Ben Scrivens in his distinctive bellow as "the savior from Spruce Grove." Cornell had waited all season for this moment. It was time.
Alex Biega of Harvard knew what his team would face. "We went into the game knowing what they were going to bring. They’re a very gifted team, strong size-wise, and they’re difficult to play." The Cornellians proved the Harvardians correct. The captain of the 2009-10 team opened Cornell's playoff scoring at 4:35 of the first period. Cornell would never trail in the 2010 ECAC Tournament.
Harvard answered approximately five minutes later. The Crimson's tally at 9:30 of the first period of game one of the 2010 ECAC Quarterfinals was the only goal that Cornell would allow in the Conference postseason.
The power-play unit from far above Cayuga's waters took the ice at 11:42 of the first period. Defenseman Mike Devin took a shot one minute later that freshman defenseman Nick D'Agostino would convert when he stepped up into the play. Lynah Rink erupted as it would with each successive Red tally. The crowd was raucous in hysteria. The Lynah Faithful from Sections A to E were unrelenting. Cornell carried a 2-1 lead into the locker room.
Eyes in the locker room focused on the directive affixed above the whiteboard. "Be A Champion." The team could not relent. Cornell took the ice again. The zeal of the Rink had not lessened because of a stoppage in play. Nick D'Agostino demonstrated his penchants for scoring against the Crimson when he beat Harvard's Richter once again. It was the freshman's second goal and third point of the contest. D'Agostino would go on to be a Crimson Killer in his own right scoring during his four-year career at Cornell.
Riley Nash was not to be outdone. The talented junior added two goals in the third period to tie D'Agostino's totals of goals and points in the first game against Harvard. Cornell took a one-game series lead with a commanding 5-1 victory.
The cacophonous hum did not leave Lynah Rink between the first and second game of the quarterfinal series. The Lynah Faithful returned to their sanctuary on Saturday. The carnelian-and-white-clad skaters took their positions at the blue line. Fish taunted the Crimson once more. The crowd was not going to relent.
Harvard did not establish its game. Ben Scrivens refined his poise to a near-perfect level. Cornell did not convert during the first period of game two. The chants of "safety school," "grade inflation," and "give me an A, give me another A, give me another A, give me another A, welcome to Harvard" did not recede. They began to grate on the Crimson. The game became impassioned and chippy even for a Cornell-Harvard contest.
Blake Gallagher waited for the last 7:55 of the second period to ruin Richter's bid for a shutout. Harvard killed a penalty before the second period expired. Cornell did not extend its lead in the second stanza. Harvard was completely dominated. The visiting archrival grew frustrated.
It took the Big Red nearly 14 and a half minutes of the third period for Cornell to add a second tally. The Lynah Faithful erupted with Cornell's securing a late two-goal lead. Victory was all but guaranteed. The zealous fans joined the chorus of "we want Carroll" pleading for Harvard coach Ted Donato to put in the goaltender who served in relief for Richter the previous evening. In a fitting end to the series, Colin Greening who had opened scoring tallied an empty-net goal.
Harvard's season was over. Cornell advanced. The 2009-10 team circled the rink thanking the Lynah Faithul. The second contest had seen two historic milestones crossed. Gallagher's goal was his 100th point of his career. He joined Colin Greening and Riley Nash as 100-point scorers on the team.
It was only the fourth time that a Cornell team iced three 100-point scorers at the same time. It was the first such team in 34 years. Cornell had defeated the Harvard Crimson four times in a season for the first time in the history of the rivalry. Cornell did not lose to Harvard. These euphoric waves carried Cornell into the Times Union Center in Albany, NY.
Few on East Hill paid much mind to what was happening in New Haven, CT during the 2010 ECAC Quarterfinals. Brown had upset Yale in the first game of the series. The Bulldogs forced a game three in the second contest. Late Sunday evening, the Brown Bears eliminated Yale. The match-up that most expected in the 2010 ECAC Championships would not be. Cornell was the highest remaining seed. Schafer would coach his determined team against Brown's first-year head coach Brendan Whittet in the 2010 ECAC Championship Semifinals.
Cornell was not as dominant during the first period of play at the Times Union Center as it had been in the quarterfinal series against Harvard. Three power-play opportunities helped Brown gain some control in the flow of the game that few opponents had during the 2009-10 season. Cornell was undaunted. The team's self-confidence was apparent.
Each member of the team knew that Ben Scrivens would help them weather any storm that emerged in the playoffs. Colin Greening described the mindset of the team later, "if someone was on a breakaway, you could tell everyone on our bench knew that Ben was going to stop it. If it was a two-on-one against him, he would stonewall it." Scrivens knew that the offensive might of those in front of him could not be long denied and would bail him out of any deficits he surrendered. No such deficits would be yielded.
Cornell escaped the first period in Albany without allowing a goal. The tenor of the game changed completely in the second period. Cornell regained control of the game. It was Brown who was pushed back onto its heels. The Bears were no long able to keep Cornell out of its game. Brown killed off a penalty midway though the period. It was an achievement to hold the power-play unit of the Big Red at bay. It was not enough.
Sophomore forward Locke Jillson and freshman forward John Esposito were superb all night. Their speed helped Cornell hold Brown at bay in the first period. Appropriately, the first goal of the game came as John Esposito directed the puck to Jillson. The Texan deposited the goal in the net at 15:35 of the second period. Brown had held off Cornell longer than any team would in the playoffs. Cornell was not done scoring.
The third period saw Brendon Nash whistled for a penalty at the five-minute mark. One minute and 24 seconds of the penalty were killed when Aaron Volpatti of Brown was escorted to the box. A power play for Cornell would begin in at the 7:00 mark.
The wait was too long for John Esposito. Brown was stunned on the resulting four-on-four play. Stalwart defenseman Justin Krueger connected down ice to Esposito. The speedy freshman raced down ice. His second point of the game came from a goal as he scored on the four-on-four chance to give Cornell a 2-0 lead. Greening added a helper to a goal from Riley Nash that made the final margin of the contest 3-0. The game stood as Scrivens' second blank sheet in the playoffs.
The opponent that Cornell would face in the 2010 ECAC Championship Final was Union. Nate Leaman took over the Schenectady-based program before the 2003-04 season. Leaman had taken a program that had garnered only three wins in the 1991-92 season to the 2010 ECAC Championships. Union had earned a berth to Albany with a quarterfinal series victory over Quinnipiac in a three-game series that included one of the longest games in NCAA history. The Dutchmen then defeated Joe Marsh and his Saints of St. Lawrence in a semifinal contest. Union may have been new to the Conference's championship weekend, but its team was far from a pushover.
This did not prevent neutral media from taking note of the nature of Cornell's playoff run. Brian Sullivan of U.S. College Hockey Online captured the arc of the postseason best: "The Big Red are the dream-crushers, they play in games that end streaks and crush passion. They are the soul-devouring juggernauts of the league, because they are so systematically thorough in every aspect of the game that they will completely suck every ounce of energy out of your lineup. It's not a flaw or a criticism — it's a very, very powerful attribute, and nobody does it like Cornell."
The air of foreboding inevitability affected not only those detached but some of those who would be involved in the contest. Union coach Nate Leaman lamented in a tone betraying these sentiments after the game when he cited that Cornell had one of the best power plays in the country, "they have the best penalty kill in the league, [and] they have the best goaltender in the country." There was one corner where this mindset was absent.
Schafer emphasized to his team how disciplined and methodical Union was. The seniors and he emphasized how great a team that this Union squad was. The Dutchmen had held Cornell to three points during the regular season. The strategy Schafer prescribed against Union was "to make them draw penalties" through "lean[ing] on their players down-low and bring[ing] them to the net."
The garnet-clad challengers dotted the blue line opposite the dream-crushing, soul-devouring juggernaut. Many Union students and fans had made the short trip from Schenectady to Albany. The seemingly omnipresent droves of Lynah Faithful and Cornell fans made their way to New York's capital by the Saturday contest. The Times Union Center hosted 6,505 fans who waited eagerly for the game.
The nerves of the Union squad fed Cornell. The Big Red took to challenging the Dutchmen physically early. Nate Leaman's squad showed few signs of fatigue. That began to shift. Union gave Cornell an opportunity to take the lead at 10:57 of the first period. The deadlock would remain. The two teams continued to challenge one another. The characteristic discipline of the Dutchmen began to wane.
Jeremy Welsh of Union would be called for hitting from behind just 35 seconds after the Dutchmen had killed off their first penalty. Cornell refused to be denied in quick succession. The seconds of the two-minute penalty ticked away. The Red power play established its presence in Union's zone and ground the Dutchmen down with cycling. The Big Red showed poise while waiting for an opportunity. The one that arose was unorthodox.
Mike Devin blasted a shot from the point at the blue line. The shot missed. Tyler Roeszler raced behind the net to collect the puck. Roeszler drew the attention of Keith Kinkaid, Union's goaltender, with an apparent commitment to the right. The Cornell forward changed direction and wrapped the puck around to Joe Devin who was standing on Kinkaid's doorstep. The Times Union Center roared to life after Devin's goal. Union was psychologically out of the game.
Cornell would wait over 20 minutes for its second tally. The power-play unit from East Hill went to work again in Albany after Union was whistled for a bench minor. Cornell began its seemingly effortless cycling that had worn down its opponents. Brendon Nash received a pass from Riley Nash. The former unleashed a shot from the point. A scramble in front of Kinkaid resulted.
Sean Whitney found the puck arcing out of a pile-up in front of the net. The Massachusetts native spun, corralled the puck on the blade of his stick, and slid it into Union's net just out of reach of Kinkaid and diving garnet-clad defensemen. Only 22:35 stood between Cornell and its 12th ECAC Championship.
Cornell maintained cool and levelheaded on the ice. Poor ventilation and air conditioning in the locker rooms at the Times Union Center made it difficult for the coaches and players in the locker room to remain chilled. Ed Kelly, Pedro Trindade, and other assistants to the team commandeered fans and large blocks of ice to cool the team during the breaks. One period remained. The team needed to stay focused.
Union's fans tried to reinvigorate their team. It was for naught. Cornell killed penalties successfully in the third period. Union appeared to have a gasp of life late in the game. Ben Scrivens continued to be unsolvable. Cornell defensemen including Braden Birch, Mike Devin, Nick D'Agostino, Justin Krueger, Brendon Nash, and Keir Ross ensured that few shots challenged Scrivens. Forwards and defensemen combined for eight blocked shots for Cornell in the third period. The Big Red blocked 16 over the course of the contest.
Union celebrated what it believed was a goal with less than one minute remaining. Official review of the play indicated that despite a skirmish between several Union players, Braden Birch, Justin Krueger, and Ben Scrivens the puck never crossed Cornell's goal line. The following face-off had Union defending an empty net. The Dutchmen gained the Red's zone. A puck bounced loose to Scrivens's left. Patrick Kennedy pursued it and unleashed a shot that found the empty net at the opposite end of the ice. The Class of 2010 had achieved its goal.
Ecstasy overcame players, students, alumni, and fans alike. The captain of the 2009-10 team described the moment. "Everyone was just yelling at each other and all the fans in the background were going nuts. That is the thing I will remember — just hugging the guys and knowing we finally won it." Ben Scrivens remarked that “we’ve come up short the last couple of years here. It’s exciting to see where all of the pieces fall together.”
The victory over Union at the Times Union Center allowed the 2009-10 team to bring back to East Hill Cornell's 12th Whitelaw Cup. It was the first championship won from a renovated Lynah Rink. It was Mike Schafer's fifth ECAC Championship. Schafer tied Joe Marsh of St. Lawrence for greatest number of ECAC Championships as head coach. Schafer had achieved the feat in one fewer season than had Marsh.
The 2009-10 Cornell hockey team was the most dominant team in the history of the ECAC Tournament. That Cornell squad surrendered one goal in the playoffs. No ECAC playoff contest was ever in doubt during its run. The 1969-70 and 2002-03 squads are immortalized for their consistency and uncanny abilities to find ways to win. Immortality belongs to the 2009-10 team for its unrivaled perfection and precision in pursuing a goal while claiming a new identity for Cornell hockey.
Cornell outscored its opponents 14 goals to one goal during the 2010 ECAC Tournament. Joe Devin bested Union's Keith Kinkaid during the first period for Cornell's championship-winning goal against the Union. Ben Scrivens produced a goals-against average of 0.25 and a save percentage of 0.990 during the 2010 ECAC Tournament. Cornell celebrated winning its 12th Whitelaw Cup that evening in Albany on March 20, 2010.
Erik Axell, Braden Birch, Sean Collins, Nick D’Agostino, Joe Devin, Mike Devin, John Esposito, Blake Gallagher,
Michael Garman (G), Colin Greening (C), Locke Jillson, Omar Kanji (G), Jordan Kary, Patrick Kennedy, Justin Krueger, Vince Mihalik, Greg Miller, Chris Moulson, Brendon Nash, Riley Nash (A), Dan Nicholls, Tyler Roeszler, Keir Ross,
Joe Scali, Ben Scrivens (G), Jarred Seymour, Sean Whitney
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