In tight, intense, physical ECAC Hockey quarterfinal round action at Lynah Rink in Ithaca on Friday night, Cornell held off the Clarkson University Hockey team to earn a hard-fought 2-1 victory in Game 1, gaining the advantage in the best-of-three game series.
The Golden Knights, who stand at 20-16-4 overall, and the 12th-ranked Big Red (16-8-5) will face off again on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. in Game 2. If Clarkson wins, the long-time rivals will play again on Sunday at 7:00 p.m. in the series-deciding Game 3. If Cornell wins on Saturday, the Big Red will advance to Lake Placid next weekend for the league's championship tournament.
Clarkson and Cornell, who each won a one-goal game against the other during the regular season, battled to another close game on Friday. The Big Red outshot the Green and Gold 33-29. Clarkson was 0-of-2 on the power play, while Cornell was 1-of-4 on the man-advantage, including a power-play opportunity in the final two minutes of regulation.
Freshman Steve Perry (Ligonier, PA), playing his first game ever against Cornell, was solid in the Clarkson crease with 31 saves, including 11 in a scoreless third period.
The Knights were looking to ride the momentum of last weekend's 2-1 first-round series win over Princeton at Cheel Arena, but could not generate many quality scoring opportunities against Cornell's defensive style of play.
The Big Red, who enjoyed an off week in the first round of the playoffs by virtue of being the fourth seed in the conference, took a 2-0 lead early in the second period.
Cornell jumped on top midway through the opening period with a goal by Kirill Gotovets off a rebound in front at 11:33. The Big Red went on a five-minute major power play early in the second frame and scored just 13 seconds into the man-advantage with Joakim Ryan connecting on a one-timer from the right circle and through a screen past Perry at 2:34.
Clarkson got on the scoreboard at 14:49 of the middle frame with its first penalty-shot goal in over 11 years. Freshman Jordan Boucher (St. Therese, QUE) beat Big Red goaltender Andy Iles through the five-hole for his third goal of the season.
Both teams had an opportunity to add another goal with each skating on a power play in the third period, but the game ended at 2-1. The Big Red outshot the Knights 11-5 in the third. Iles finished with 28 saves.