While Ken Dryden sat on the bench at Lynah Rink, Cornell junior goaltender Ben Scrivens turned in a commanding impersonation of the “Four-Story Goalie,” as he turned aside all 31 Niagara shots, many in short-handed situations, and the Big Red extended its home unbeaten streak to six games with a 3-0 decision over Niagara.
Actually, it wasn’t the real Dryden stooped over his blocker pad, but backup goalie Troy Davenport sporting Dryden’s old jersey on a night where all Cornell players dressed in throwback jerseys to honor the names of those who have brought glory to one of college hockey’s most venerable arenas.
Itt was the subject of goaltending that was foremost on both coaches’ minds at the post-game press conference.
“If you look at his (Scrivens) numbers nationally, they’re right up there,” Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said. “He does a great job of making the first save, and because of the way Cornell plays their defensive structure, it’s not easy to get that second chance. The bottom line is we needed to make a play on the power play and we didn’t.”
Niagara went 0-7 on the power play, yet cycled the puck well and played a poised game for most of its time with the man advantage . Niagara captain Vince Rocco narrowly missed the backside of the Cornell net in the second period in a play emblematic of the Purple Eagles’ frustration on special teams, which included a failure to convert a five-on-three and several blown opportunities down low.
“Give their guy (Niagara goalie Juliano Palgilero) credit too,” Cornell coach Mike Schafer said. “We spent over 16 minutes short-handed and we still had 40 shots on him. A few of his saves were dramatic. I really wasn’t happy with the way we played, and I think we gave Niagara a reason not to feel afraid of coming in here tomorrow night.”
The visiting Purple Eagles played a near flawless road game. However, in the blink of a backhanded centering pass by Cornell’s center Riley Nash, the Big Red scored the only goal that mattered, that being Colin Greening’s second period tally, which stood until nearly the last minute of the game.
“That was a gritty contest,” Burkholder said. “We got pucks up out of our zone, blocked shots, won a lot of one-on-one battles,.but Cornell is tough to play against and they don’t give you that second look. It was frustrating to watch. I told the boys we have an opportunity to come back again tomorrow in one of the greatest environments in our sport.”
Nash scored an empty netter with a 1:12 remaining while teammate Jared Seminoff chipped in another goal 24 seconds later to the delight of the Lynah faithful.
True to form, Cornell fans reveled at the sight of some names they haven’t seen on the backs of Big Red jerseys for quite some time (John Hughes, Dan Lodboa, Brock Tredway, Lance Nethery and Doug Derraugh). Proceeds of the auctioned game jerseys went to support a mission trip to the Dominican Republic.