Cornell Topples Michigan in OT on Craig's 2nd Goal of Season
by Greg Bates/Special to CHN
GREEN BAY, Wis. It was just the little nudge — well, more like a big shove — which Cornell needed.
The Big Red got down early to Michigan 2-0 just 1 minute, 33 seconds into their Midwest Regional semifinal game Friday night at the Resch Center. However, the Wolverines’ second goal in a span of 22 seconds was disallowed because a Michigan player was ruled to have been in the crease when the goal was scored.
Cornell, thinking it had dug itself a large hole, got new life and turned up its energy.
“Obviously, that wasn’t the start we wanted to have,” Cornell goalie Andy Iles said. “We were confident going into the game and we were going to stick together as a group and as a team and fight through whatever adversity we faced. I felt confident out there and maybe the first two shots went in, but I wasn’t going to let that deteriorate my play from there.”
That didn’t deteriorate Iles’ play one bit. He held his own the rest of the way and helped Cornell (19-8-7) beat the top-seeded Wolverines 3-2 in overtime.
Iles and the Cornell players were happy the goal was reviewed by the officials and disallowed. That’s when the momentum shifted to the Big Red.
“I think it was huge,” Cornell center Sean Collins said. “If they get two goals early on, it’s a different situation. Getting that goal called back and then we got one on the power play at the end of the first on a nice goal by John McCarron and we were going into the first intermission pretty confident.”
The Big Red’s special teams units shined against the No. 2 rated team in the country. Cornell scored its first goal of the game on the power play by John McCarron and registered its second on a shorthanded tally by Joakim Ryan just 40 seconds into the second period.
Speaking of the second period, that’s when Cornell’s defense didn’t budge. Cornell had to kill off 9 minutes, 37 seconds of Michigan power-play time, including two two-man advantages and five total penalties.
“We ran into a little penalty trouble in the second period and we made so many aggressive, hard plays and unfortunately we were called for penalties here and there,” Iles said. “It was one of those things where on the PK (penalty kill) you want to try and make a few of those big saves — really just try to make the game simple.”
Iles said it was the penalty killers who stole the show in the second period. For the game, Cornell killed off eight Michigan power plays.
With Cornell up 2-1 late in the second period, it had a rare opportunity for a penalty shot. Locke Jillson was dragged down on a shorthanded breakaway, he got a shot to go one-on-one with Michigan goalie Shawn Hunwick, a Hobey Baker Award finalist. Jillson got a weak shot off and Hunwick blocked it easily to keep it a 2-1 game.
It’s been 809 games since Cornell has scored on a penalty shot, dating back to Feb. 27, 1987 when Joe Nieuwendyk scored shorthanded.
Cornell gave up the game-tying goal with 4:01 remaining in the third period. However, the Big Red rebounded in the overtime period.
The Big Red’s Greg Miller got a shot off and Hunwick made the initial save, but left the net wide open and Rodger Craig made no mistake about it. He scored just 3:35 into overtime. The goal was just Craig’s second of the season — the other being a third-period game-winner against Union.
“That’s definitely the best goal I’ve ever scored,” Craig said.
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After Hunwick took a couple of seconds to absorb seeing his season end with an OT goal in an NCAA game for the third straight season, he picked up the puck that Craig deposited in the net, skated to the Cornell bench, and gave it to an assistant coach to give to Craig.
Hunwick's story is already legendary in college hockey, and so is his reputation as a class act. That move punctuated the legend.
"It's one of the classiest things I've seen in 25 years of coaching," Schafer said. "To think of that in such a disappointing moment showed a lot of class for the kid and character, and those things don't go unnoticed. ... I was very impressed by it."