Late Hilbrich goal nets Cornell a tie with Brown

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A game of bounces evened out at night’s end as the host Cornell Big Red tied the Brown Bears, 3-3, at Lynah Rink on Friday evening.

With less than a minute left on the clock, the Big Red were down 3-2 and in desperation mode in search of an equalizer when senior Christian Hilbrich stepped up and got a bounce to go his way.

Fellow senior Reece Willcox fired a shot that was stopped by Brown netminder Tim Ernst, but the rebound bounced high in the air with Ernst sprawled out on the ice. Hilbrich was alone to the goalie’s left and corralled the puck and flipped it to the back of the cage in one motion.

The mad comeback seemed unnecessary early in the third frame, but the Bears had a string of events go their way that helped them tie the score at two, then subsequently take a 3-2 lead after trailing by a goal just over a minute into the closing period.

With a shade under 10 minutes to play in the third, Cornell forward Jeff Kubiak had a breakaway attempt foiled by Ernst and a strong backcheck from defenseman Josh McArdle. Moments after another Brown loss was a strong possibility, coach Brendan Whittet’s gang turned the tides in a massive way.

“I give my guys a lot of credit,” said Whittet. “We were down 2-1 in a really tough rink to play in against a tough opponent, but we found a way to go up 3-2. It just would have been nice to finish it.”

The Bears had a chance to grab their fifth win of the season after Max Willman’s second marker of the campaign tied the score at two, then a crazy bounce went Brown’s way to give them the lead. A Brandon Pfeil shot eluded the net of Cornell goalie Mitch Gillam, then hit the dasher and bounced upward of 15 feet in the air and into the high slot. Zack Pryzbek picked it up, walked in, and beat Gillam to give Brown the advantage.

Even with the strange bounce, Cornell coach Ben Syer had no sympathy for his team’s defense during the situation.

“I don’t know where the shot came from, but I’m not sure why we weren’t [leaning] into a guy right away.”

Syer took his place behind the Cornell bench once again as coach Mike Schafer continues to recover from a concussion suffered in practice a few weeks ago.

With 16 losses in 24 games to enter the evening, Brown has had a tough time closing out games in its favor, but Whittet was pleased with the battle level shown by his team as they tried to nab their third conference win on the year.

“I thought that every single one of our guys played the game hard,” said Whittet. “You need that type of sacrifice and that type of effort to be successful in this league.”

Brown forward Charlie Corcoran was one notable man who sacrificed, as he blocked a hard shot with his hand with under two minutes to play that caused the sophomore to double over in pain. Another underclassmen forward, Tommy Marchin, then steered a Willcox blast wide with his foot as the minute warning approached, but the dam eventually broke on the Hilbrich goal.

The Big Red used the wave of momentum in the extra session to nab a 5-1 shots advantage, but neither Gillam nor Ernst gave an inch at their respective ends in the nets, as no more lucky bounces were to be found.

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