Series Record: 58-49-14 Cornell
Saturday, February 2, 2013
November 30, 2012
Cornell began its early season success against its ECAC foes from the North Country at Lynah Rink with a 3-1 victory over the Golden Knights. The Casey Jones-led Knights left Lynah perplexed and somewhat annoyed from one of the most memorable aspects of that game. A five-minute major was called in the second that was assessed originally to Ryan. Ryan did not go to the box. Play resumed and Ryan begin to kill off his own penalty. Game play then was stopped. McCarron was then awarded the five-minute major along with a game disqualification, but the entire scenario seemed out of hand. Clarkson by the end, admittedly somewhat justifiably, felt that it had been wronged. I am sure the memories of that event at Lynah have not faded. Nor has the memory of the loss.
The Knights Since Last Meeting:
Clarkson has gone 3-7-2 since the clash between the Big Red and the Golden Knights. The Golden Knights have a Potsdam-valued record of 2-0-1 against the St. Lawrence Saints over that span. The Golden Knights's one other victory came against a faltering Harvard squad. Most recently, the Golden Knights wrestled a surging Colgate Raiders team to a 4-4 tie last night.
It may seem to some to violate the tenet to which WAFT adheres that one should never disrespect one's opponent if we do not expound further upon what the Golden Knights have done, but frankly, I doubt that it will make a difference. Cornell has shown that when it produces a great effort few teams can keep pace with it this season. However, Cornell has proven that it can play as poorly as some of the worst college hockey programs in the nation if it is not invested in the game or makes mental lapses. In the latter case, it would not matter if Clarkson brought a flawless game, its best game, or its worst game, the Knights would leave the ice of Cheel to raucous acclaim and a resounding victory.
Keys to the Game:
The key to winning this game for Cornell seems to be as much mental as physical. Cornell lost the St. Lawrence game from two lapses. One is able to be rationalized, the other is not. MacDonald was called for a five-minute major with 5:34 remaining in the game. The game was tied at 2-2.
Cornell appeared to go to killing off the major as it had the six previous. Some would argue that the penalty killers did not, but I must disagree. I believe that they did. Greg Carey converted on the major just 0:39 seconds into the major to give St. Lawrence the go-ahead goal. St. Lawrence had won the game at this point.
How can I know that? The demeanor of the Cornell team showed that. 4:55 remained in the game. 0:34 of that time would be with Cornell at even strength. Cornell came out flat. The Big Red had much to be confident about. It was still very much in the game. Cornell had killed off six penalties before the final six minutes of the game. Somewhat atypically, Cornell had pressed to challenge for shorthanded goals throughout those six successful penalty kills. However, on the ropes, with 4:55 remaining with one man down and knowing that they would have only 0:34 of even strength at the end of the game, Cornell lost its nerve, retreated to its own ended, and did not challenge for the extra goal.
Yes, sometimes it is unwise to challenge for a shorthanded goal, but during the killing of the major there were breakaway chances. WAFT is usually a fan of discipline and conservatism, but the game was on the line so exceptions need to be made. Also, any argument for stability is surely lost when one considers how the Saints scored their fourth goal which is the thing about the St. Lawrence game that is least able to be rationalized.
Cornell drew a penalty with 1:48 remaining in the game. The game would be played 4-on-4 until the last 0:34. Schafer chose to keep Iles on the bench for the extra attacker. I write with the benefit of hindsight, but when St. Lawrence scored on the empty net just 17 seconds later, it makes the decision seem all the more troubling.
Cornell was deflated and retrenched after St. Lawrence scored the go-ahead goal. This is a team that cannot be cocky or hubristic because there is a strong argument that such views are what has put this team is this position. However, the team cannot remain downtrodden. When games become tight or Cornell goes down late in the game, this team has begun to play either not to lose or not to lose by more. It has lost the competitive confidence to go for defeating an enemy soundly that has produced a likely mental block that prevents conversion on great offensive opportunities. Cornell enjoyed a handful of breakaway and short-handed chances against St. Lawrence but converted on none of them.
Cornell is a program in the ECAC that should be confident enough to expect to win. Even in these dire times of being below 0.500, if this team does not regain some semblance of humbled confidence then when it discovers how to win it may be too late. It is almost already too late.
Cornell killed off 85.7% of St. Lawrence's power-play opportunities. That element of its game did not deteriorate after the weekend. The alarming fact is that against both Brown and St. Lawrence, Cornell surrendered a power-play goal very late in the game.
Cornell owns a 0.450 record. Cornell sits two games below 0.500. Cornell sits in eleventh place in the ECAC Standings. Yes, Cornell is second-from-last in the ECAC at this late stage in the season. Were the 2013 ECAC Tournament to begin today, Cornell would begin it on the road without a single post-season game played at Lynah Rink. Currently, the Big Red would begin the 2013 ECAC Tournament in the first round against St. Lawrence at Appleton. Cornell is six points outside of a first-round bye.
Cornell has not scored more than two goals in four games. The Big Red has allowed 3.25 goals over that span. Andy Iles has not delivered a performance that includes a save percentage better than 0.915 over that same span.
A loss at Cheel on Saturday night could prove fatal to Cornell's post-season chances no matter what Cornell can achieve against Quinnipiac next week or even beyond. Cornell needs to make instant headway in the ECAC Standings and cannot allow games to pass without gaining posts. Cornell has played four consecutive ECAC games without gaining a single point.
Cornell's loss last night represents the first time since Fall 1999 that Cornell has lost four consecutive regular-season games. WAFT will remain loyal to its pledge to support this team through ups and downs. It is part of truly being Lynah Faithful. This post in itself was difficult to write after Cornell failed to win a game that it had dominated largely last night. We remain loyal, if somewhat downtrodden.