NCAA Run Ends for Cornell Men's Hockey With 2-1 Loss to Ferris State
Release and photo courtesy of Cornell Athletic Communications
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The men's hockey team's run in the NCAA tournament came to a close Saturday in a 2-1 loss to Ferris State in the Midwest Regional final at Resch Center. Both Bulldogs goals came in the third period, with Jordie Johnston breaking a 1-all tie with 13:06 remaining in regulation.
As was to be expected from two of the most staunch defensive teams in the nation, Saturday's game was as close as could be throughout. All the action that lacked in the scoreless first two periods was paid back in spades in the third.
The frame started in sour fashion for Cornell right from the drop of the puck, when the Big Red's centerman broke his stick on the draw. As he scrambled to the bench to get a new stick, Ferris State took advantage of the pseudo-two-man advantage with Johnston driving wide around a defenseman on the right side. He swept a one-handed pass across the goal mouth that found Matthew Kirzinger. Iles scrambled across to his right and lunged at the puck, but it slithered underneath him and back to an unscathed Garrett Thompson on the weak side. He had little to do but sweep the puck into a wide-open net from about two feet off the goal line, giving Ferris the all-important first goal just 11 seconds into the final period.
But the Big Red was quick to respond. A Ferris State rush up ice stalled in the neutral zone, and Cornell defenseman Kirill Gotovets stepped up to counter on the left wing. He then slipped a perfect pass to sophomore forward Dustin Mowrey streaking between the defenseman, who then slid a shot between the legs of Ferris State goalie Taylor Nelson at the 1:32 mark.
Just 10 seconds later, a sequence of penalties left the Big Red with a five-minute major power play. But the Bulldogs' disciplined penalty kill kept the Big Red primarily to the perimeter, and they killed off the opportunity then immediately went to work producing the next goal. It took just eight seconds for Ferris State to strike on a two-on-one, with Andy Huff feathering a pass across to the left side. Jordie Johnston had plenty of time to pick his spot high over a diving sophomore goalie Andy Iles, and Ferris State regained the lead for good.
The Big Red's best chance to equalize came with 1:06 remaining, when junior forward John Esposito's shot from the slot was gloved by Ferris State goalie Taylor Nelson. Nelson finished the evening with 22 saves and was named the regional's Most Valuable Player.
Cornell placed two players on the all-regional team – Mowrey and freshman defenseman Joakim Ryan. The Big Red finished the season 19-9-7.
The first period was scoreless, with the Big Red drawing the only three penalties of the frame. The penalty kill was strong, though, surrendering just a pair of shots on goal over the six minutes. Iles saved all 12 shots he saw in the period, which largely belonged to Ferris State. The Bulldogs got off the first 11 shots on goal of the game, including a Jordie Johnston wrister from the top of the right circle off a draw at the 4:52 mark, then an Andy Huff offering from the high slot at 9:26.
Cornell finally got a shot on goal 12:47 into the game, but it was off the docile variety – a 150-foot glider down-ice from Keir Ross that was actually an attempted breakaway pass for Sean Collins in the neutral zone. The Collins line, with freshmen Joel Lowry and John McCarron on the wings, had the team's best shift of the period a couple minutes later, but that ended with a penalty.
The tables turned in the second period, with an influx of power plays swinging back Cornell's way – four in a row, to be exact. But similar to Ferris' plight in the first, the Big Red came away empty in all its chances, struggling to crack the Bulldogs' shot-blocking prowess. Cornell got a scare when a turnover at the offensive blue line led to Ferris' Travis Ouellette appearing to sprint away on a shorthanded breakaway, but Big Red junior defenseman Nick D'Agostino chased him down from behind and stick-checked the puck away just inside the Cornell blue line.
This was the Big Red's 19th appearance in the NCAA tournament and second time it was ousted in the Midwest Regional in Green Bay. The team graduates just four seniors – Collins, Ross, Sean Whitney, Locke Jillson.