Nevertheless WAFT recounts below what happened over Cornell's last weekend of the 2012-13 regular season.
Cornell is a program, like all of those that have enjoyed success, with some pretensions. There is a healthy level of respect for most opponents that Cornell faces, but losses to some programs seem still a little more because of a latent air of superiority within the Cornell program. It is no surprise that Cornell could not abide long Brown's second-ever shutout of Cornell at Lynah Rink.
Cornell fileted the Bears much like it had RPI and Union the previous weekend with a concluding score of 4-1 that did not include an empty-net goal. Cornell could not solve Borelli when he braved Lynah, but it took freshman forward Christian Hilbrich just 8:33 to best the Brown netminder. After the Brown announcers on the broadcast referred to him as a "string bean," Hilbrich shot the puck past the much vaunted Brownie.
Dustin Mowrey tickled the twine by the end of the first frame. The first stanza ended with the Big Red up 2-0 on a very deflated Brown squad. The talking point from the no-grade-system Ivy has been that this Brown team is known for its resiliency. The Big Red braced for a resurgence in the second.
Two minutes into the second period Brown drew a power-play opportunity. Cornell showed glimpses of becoming too comfortable in its own zone, as it had during earlier season mishaps, but regained quickly the form that it has exhibited as of late. Cornell killed off the remainder of Brown's power play as well as the second awarded in the second half of the third with confident poise. The Bears did not tally on the power play during the game.
Erik Axell took a face-off during the closing minutes of the second period. Axell won the face-off, and senior captain and defensive defenseman Braden Birch collected the puck. Birch put the puck on net with a blast of a shot that beat Borelli cleanly. Cornell went back to its locker room up 3-0.
Brown scored within the first three minutes of the second period. Iles would allow no more. Cornell was momentarily deflated but after a line change regained absolute control of the game.
Cornell's offense was not done. The line of Ferlin, Lowry, and Miller was reassembled. It was that line that collected a Brown turnover and rushed down the ice on a two-on-one opportunity with Miller and Ferlin rushing in on Borelli. Miller connected with the pass and Ferlin converted.
Yale awaited. Colgate had taken Yale to overtime while Cornell was trouncing Brown. Yale won that contest.
Clashes between Cornell and Yale, and by extension Schafer and Allain, have become a key clash of the ECAC in recent seasons. The recent history between the two programs includes two meetings in the ECAC Championship Final within the last four years. Added to all of this is the fact that Cornell's rivalry with Harvard undermines Yale's myopic love affair with the Crimson. One can see how all echelons of society at Cornell and Yale have no love lost between them in the modern era.
The game began much like it ended. Cornell leapt to a good start. The Big Red challenged Malcolm and the Bulldogs who prefer high octane offense in their own zone. This continued for no more than two minutes. Then, Cornell's dominance eroded. Yale began corralling Cornell in its zone. Iles was called on to make key saves. Yale generated a significant number of shots while Cornell was hemmed in its own zone (a differential of 17 to 3 in favor of Yale at the close of the first period), but Iles was equal to the challenge as his defenders forced all shots from bad angles and pushed all traffic away from the point.
It was once Cornell regained Yale's zone that Yale converted. The Bulldogs showed how dangerous they are in transition. Yale forwards Agostino and Miller corralled the puck on a turnover and rushed down ice on a two-on-one chance. Iles committed to block the shot from Miller and he fed the pass across the crease to Agostino who slipped it behind Iles who could not shift laterally in time. Iles could have done no more.
Yale's dominance only increased. Until Cornell answered. It did not take long. Cornell's leading scorer Greg Miller, looking much the part that he did against Colgate earlier in the season, began a rush to the net that one could tell would end in a goal. He ripped a shot at Malcolm that bounced off the lower part of the goaltender's helmet. Miller nearly collected his own rebound to convert but momentum carried him to the right side of the crease. It was a surging Lowry who found the puck just outside the blue paint, elevated it, and put it just over Malcolm's right shoulder.
The Bulldogs were stunned with a Cornell's response in less than one minute and a half after the Bulldogs's first tally. It was the second time in two games that the reunited line of Ferlin, Lowry, and Miller converted on similar opportunities. The game became a stalemate. When one team did take momentary territorial or opportunistic advantage, it was Cornell.
Some creative shot counting elevated the total number of shots that the Elis tallied. Cornell outshot Yale in the second and third frames despite counting that generously counted any Yale opportunity as a shot. Over the last two periods, Cornell outshot Yale 20 shots to 12 shots.
It was an official's whistle, not extraordinary play from either team, that would break the deadlock. The call was borderline but a Cornell player does make slight contact with the ankle of Yale's Day. Day hurled himself into D'Agostino in an element of mid-game theatrics. The penalty was called on Cornell.
Yale scored with a scramble in front of Cornell's net and the Elis' Stu Wilson on Iles's doorstep six seconds after Cornell's penalty kill began. The goal would stand as the deciding tally.
Cornell rebounded from this disappointment as it has on the microscopic and macroscopic scale throughout this season. Yale would take just six more shots on Iles in the last frame. Two of them came on near breakaways, but Iles was equal to the task at hand each time reading the offensive threats perfectly and neutralizing them in his own unique way.
O'Brien who had called the first penalty on Cornell called the second as well. This time Cornell killed off the penalty allowing Yale to maintain no sustained presence in the Red's zone. Cornell would hit iron at least three times in the third, one of which was from a Lowry blast that clearly bested Malcolm.
Cornell appeared to have the equalizing tally with an empty net in Cornell's zone with just over ten seconds remaining in regulation. An early whistle from O'Brien waived off any consideration of whether Cornell had bested Malcolm yet again in a frantic late-game surge. An appreciable contingent of the Lynah Faithful at Ingalls Rink thought that the puck had crossed the line before the whistle.
Cornell won the resulting face-off, but the game was sealed. Cornell lost another game to Yale with by a one-goal margin.
Cornell finished the regular season on a hot streak. Anyone who allows the disappointment of one loss to influence disproportionately their expectations for the post-season should consider the rationality of such a choice. The only time that Cornell cannot afford a single loss in the coming weekends would be at the ECAC Championships in Atlantic City, NCAA Regionals, or the Frozen Four. The last weekend of the regular season at Ingalls Rink is a far cry from any of those stages.
Cornell has shown that it has regained the ability to score and win while demonstrating the killer instinct to go for the jugular when it knows that it can blow open a game. Cornell has played the best teams in the conference over the last two weekends and dominated them handedly throughout game play. The loss to Yale, as disappointing and bordering on nauseating as it may be, should not change one's outlook of the potential for Cornell's post-season success in the 2013 playoffs.
Cornell killed off 75% of penalties over the weekend. Cornell was penalized just four times during the games over the weekend (Lowry and Yale's Young were given ten-minute misconducts after the Yale game). Cornell put up four tallies against one of the best goaltenders in the nation. Iles registered a 0.951 save percentage over the weekend. Cornell's systems and efforts remained sound.
Some in sports subscribe to the forest-fire theory of losses: that it is better to have purging losses before a team must win to prolong its season. The loss to Yale may serve as such a purging loss. This weekend will tell. There are few reasons to believe that this team cannot go on a run into the playoffs. This team has shown that it can bring home Cornell's 13th ECAC Championship.