CC Burns Cornell at Classic Day 1
Maine Outlasts Princeton in Shootout
by Joe Malta/CHN Reporter
ESTERO, Fla. Speed versus size. It is a classic matchup in hockey, and on this night anyway speed won, as No. 3 Colorado College held off No. 4 Cornell, 4-2, at the Florida College Classic in Estero.
Prior to the this tournament, Colorado College had played only one game this year on an NHL size rink. Tigers coach Scott Owens was concerned that playing a big team like Cornell on a smaller ice surface may somewhat negate the team speed of the Tigers. But right from the start the Colorado forwards were able to utilize their speed to force Cornell into early mistakes.
Two Big Red penalties, the first to senior defenseman Brendon Nash at 0:44, and the second to Braden Birch for boarding at 2:08, set up an early 5-on-3 advantage for the Tigers. It took only 10 seconds for the Tiger power play to cash in. Junior forward Steven Schultz scored the first of his two goals on the night at 2:18 to give the Tigers the lead and the chase was on.
“Our plan was to skate hard and attack early and it paid off for us,” said Schultz.
“They are a good team and they know how to use their size to their advantage.” Owens said “I felt like our team speed caused problems for them and forced them into taking penalties.”
Cornell was whistled for 10 penalties resulting in eight power plays for the Tigers, who converted on two of those advantages. For most of the night, the Colorado team speed and the Big Red parade to the penalty box kept Cornell from getting any rhythm. The holiday layoff did not seem to have much impact on the Tigers.
“We worked hard in practice and we felt comfortable pretty early, this is a big boost for our confidence as a team,” said Schultz.
The Tigers outshot Cornell 26-8 over the first two periods, but thanks to some huge saves by Ben Scrivens, Cornell only trailed 3-1 late in the second period. And when Collin Greening scored a power play goal at 17:05 Cornell was right back into the game.
“He just put his shoulder down and drove hard to the net,” said Schultz. “They use their size well.”
The third period started off the same as the first two, as Cornell forward Riley Nash was called for roughing just 41 seconds in. Cornell was penalized in the first minute of each of the three periods, but unlike the first two frames the Big Red was able to quickly gain the momentum after the penalty kill, and took the play to the Tigers for the first time all night. In stepped Tiger goalie Joe Howe, aided by the Colorado defense that blocked 17 shots on the night. Howe added 19 saves in the third period to preserve the Tiger lead and hold off the Cornell charge.
“I felt we rotated well on the penalty kill and we were able to disrupt and negate them most of the night,” Owens said.
Schultz struck for his second goal to seal the game when David Civitarese sprung him free with a pass to the Cornell blue line at 12:47 of the third period, putting the Tigers up 4-2.
“That was a huge play for us and it was a great pass to get me into their zone,” Schultz said. “They are a good team and they played hard, this is a big win for us.”
Looking down the road the win may have added significance for the Tigers as they were able to utilize their speed against a physical team on a NHL sized surface. The same size rink that will be in use for all four regionals in the NCAA tournament in March. It also set up a meeting with the Maine Black Bears for the championship of the Florida Classic.
“Maine is a very similar team (to Cornell), they are bigger than us and they have quietly put together a nice streak of wins in the past six weeks,” Owens said.
Maine knocked off Princeton with a shootout victory 7-6 in the tournament opener.
“It was a crazy game,” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said.
The Black Bears dominated the first 24 minutes of the game and built a 4-1 lead over the Tigers. But a major roughing penalty to forward Tanner House gave Princeton a 5-minute man advantage and the Tigers scored three times to tie the game.
“They fought hard and came back twice on us,” said Whitehead.
After Maine had built a 6-4 lead, goals by Kevin Lohry, and Matt Arhontas at 11:45 and 13:29 of the third period tied the score and setup overtime.
“We had a lot of chances in overtime but we were not able to get one in,” said Whitehead
Colorado Springs native, junior defenseman Jeff Dimmen, scored the shootout winner for the Bears setting up the matchup with his hometown team.
“He was the only defensemen I put in the shootout. He has a low panic point and he is a great leader for us,” Whitehead said. “It was a typical post holiday game, not a great game to be honest. Princeton never gave up and we are happy to have the win.”