Cornell Skates Past Union

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — It would have been an exorcism of quite a few demons if the Cornell men's hockey team simply held on to a two-goal lead Friday night at Union. But what actually transpired was more than an expulsion, it was an obliteration — and it resulted in the Big Red's biggest victory of the season to date.
Cornell, which entered the game ranked 16th in the poll, fought off the dissipation of its second two-goal lead in as many games, striking back with goals 39 seconds apart from senior forward Jake Weidner and sophomore forward Anthony Angello late in the third period for a 5-3 victory against #4/5 Union at Messa Rink. The goal was Angello's second of the game.
"We talked about that a lot this week, staying up on the bench and making sure we're reacting the right way and picking up our teammates if we see some bad body language," said Weidner, the Big Red captain. "We tried to do that throughout the game and when they scored their third one, I think our bench reacted quite a bit better than we did last weekend. I think that shows with how we were able to come back and win the game."
Weidner's goal came on the power play with 4:09 to play after the Dutchmen were awarded seven chances on the man advantage — six in the final two periods. From the bottom of the right circle, he was able to slip a shot under Union goalie Jake Kupsky to ignite a Big Red team in desperate need of a bounce-back victory.
"I noticed we had some net presence in the mid-slot with (Angello)," Weidner said. "I saw some an area between his legs and figured if it didn't go in, I'd get a rebound. Luckily, it snuck through."
Angello padded the lead on the next shift, poking the puck away from a Union defenseman at the Big Red blue line and outworking both defenseman down the ice. Not only to he bury his shot on the partial breakaway, but he also drew a penalty on the play to essentially allow Cornell to salt the rest of the game away.
It seemed like an improbable ending after the game's start. Coming off a pair of frustrating losses last weekend in which it held third-period leads, the Big Red came out with a dominating first period. Cornell held a significant territorial advantage and eventually broke through for three goals in a span of 6 minutes, 4 seconds to open a 3-1 lead entering the first intermission.
Junior forward Alex Rauter opened the scoring at the 10-minute mark on a breakaway sprung by a pass up the middle by freshman defenseman Yanni Kaldis. Rauter made a move to his backhand and slid a shot through Kupsky's legs for his eighth goal of the year. Weidner earned the secondary assist.
The Dutchmen pulled even on a shorthanded goal by Mike Vecchione, the nation's leading scorer, but the Big Red responded in kind just 75 seconds later. After a bounce-back shift drew another Union penalty, Cornell went to work on a two-man advantage for 29 seconds. Senior defenseman Patrick McCarron won a battle along the right-wing boards, and junior forward Trevor Yates and senior forward Jeff Kubiak exchanged passes before the latter circled behind the net. After drawing a defender to him, he found Angello with a pass in the left circle and he rifled a shot high to the short side to restore the visitors' lead just as the first penalty expired.
The Big Red upped the lead to 3-1 at the 16:04 mark on a goal off a face off. Junior forward Jared Fiegl won a draw to the right of Kupsky, and junior forward Dwyer Tschantz skated off the half-wall and through the circle unscathed. As he got to the slot, he faked Kupsky to the ice and continued along on his forehand before finding the net on a tight angle for his first goal of the season.
But once again, Cornell ran into penalty trouble shortly thereafter. The Big Red was whistled for a whopping five penalties in the second period, swinging momentum back on the side of the hosts. The last of those penalties created a two-man advantage of 1:17 for Union. Sophomore defenseman Alec McCrea, senior defenseman Holden Anderson and Weidner all had huge shot blocks on the opportunity, but Vecchione ended up scoring his second goal of the game with 1 second left on the five-on-three. That allowed Union to stay on a five-on-four penalty for another 44 seconds, and McCrea sprawled out for another shot block to kill off the threat.
The third period proved to be more of the same, building up to Ryan Walker's power-play goal with 10:41 left in the third tying the game. With Harvard erasing a one-goal lead in the third period en route to a win last Friday at Cornell and Dartmouth disintegrating a two-goal lead for a victory the next night, the Big Red faced the daunting task of trying to find a proverbial tourniquet.
"It's an intriguing game. We had in hand," said Mike Schafer, the Jay R. Bloom '77 Head Coach of Men's Hockey. "Similar things happened to us in the game where we're struggling to find out where we took some (penalty) calls. Our guys didn't respond very well; I didn't respond very well (last week). But I thought our team handled it well tonight."
Cornell heads east on New York State Route 7 to conclude the road trip at 7 p.m. Saturday with a game at Rensselaer.