The statistics said that Union was good when it had a lead after the second period, and Cornell was bad when trailing after two.
But those statistics didn’t mean anything to either team Friday night. And that was good news for the Big Red, and bad tidings for the Dutchmen in their first home game since Dec. 1.
Cornell won for the first time this season when trailing after two periods. Cole Bardreau and Brian Ferlin scored in the third to help the 16th-ranked Big Red to a 3-2 ECAC Hockey victory over the fading 17th-ranked Dutchmen before a standing-room-only crowd of 2,354 at Messa Rink.
The Big Red (4-3-2 ECACH, 8-6-2 overall) is 1-5-1 when trailing after two. The Dutchmen (4-4-3, 10-8-4) dropped to 8-2-2 when ahead after two.
It was the second straight game that Union saw a third-period lead evaporate. Last Saturday, ECACH-leading Quinnipiac rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win, 3-2.
In fact, in four of the Dutchmen’s last five ECACH games, they have lost leads in the third. It happened in back-to-back games against Brown and Yale Dec. 7-8. Union escaped with ties in those games.
But this loss, which dropped the Dutchmen to 2-6-3 in their last 11 games, more than likely ended any hopes of a third straight Cleary Cup regular-season title. And past Union teams would finish strong and put away teams in the third period.
“A big part is turnovers,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “Not being able to catch a pass in the neutral zone. We must practice passing in the neutral zone more than any other team in the whole country. I’m trying to figure [it] out because we show film, we practice it, and I don’t if when it comes to game time, we have guys that are a little frightened to catch passes in the neutral zone. That’s a little disheartening for me.”
Union defenseman Mat Bodie believes his team lacked the mental and physical toughness to put away Cornell.
“I thought they outworked us in the third,” said Bodie, the team captain. “They played smarter than us in the third. Both those things caught up to us in the end.”
Union goalie Troy Grosenick doesn’t believe his team is losing confidence.
“It’s something that we need to correct, and it’s something we should have corrected before,” said Grosenick, who made 33 saves. “We just need to get more mature as a team, and look ourselves in the mirror and ask what we can do better.”
After giving up a goal to John Esposito 67 seconds into the game, Matt Hatch and Kyle Bodie gave Union a 2-1 lead by the end of the first period. The score stayed that way through two periods. Cornell goalie Andy Iles made a great glove save midway through the second on Daniel Carr on the back end of a give-and-go with Greg Coburn.
“Andy made the save of the game,” Cornell coach Mike Schafer said. “He just made a huge diving save. That was the difference.”
The Big Red took control in the third. John McCarron got the puck to a open Bardreau to the right of Shayne Gostisbehere, and he put it in at 2:30 to tie it.
“It was, actually, a pretty lucky goal,” said Bardreau, who was part of Team USA gold-medal winning World Junior Hockey Championship team along with Gostisbehere. “Our line was working together. Me, Esposito and McCarron were working really well together cycling. McCarron just threw it at the net. I was lucky enough to get a stick on it, and it trickled in.”
The winning goal came as a result of a turnover. Kevin Sullivan had the puck along the right-wing boards in the Cornell zone. Instead of sending it to the corner, Sullivan sent it up to Charlie Vasaturo at the right point.
But Greg Miller got a piece of the puck, and it hopped past Vasaturo, leading to a two-on-one break. Joel Lowry led the rush, and he fed a nice pass over to Ferlin, who put it past a helpless Grosenick with 9:33 left.
Union hosts Colgate tonight at 7. . . .
Bardreau and Gostisbehere were honored after the pregame warmup. They were presented pictures of their time with Team USA.
Cornell 1 0 2 — 3
Union 2 0 0 — 2
First Period — 1, Cornell, Esposito 8 (Bardreau, McCarron), 1:07. 2, Union, Hatch 6 (Jooris, Gostisbehere), 9:18. 3, Union, K. Bodie 6 (Simpson, Novak), 15:39 (pp). Penalties — M. Bodie, Uni (interference), 11:04; Dias, Cor (tripping), 14:16; Ikkala, Uni (interference), 16:04.
Second Period — None. Penalties — Sullivan, Uni (tripping), 2:09; McCarron, Cor (tripping), 3:08; Mowrey, Cor (hitting after whistle), 12:56; K. Bodie, Uni (hitting after whistle), 12:56; Union bench, served by Wilkins (too many men), 18:58.
Third Period — 4, Cornell, Bardreau 2 (McCarron, Esposito), 2:30. 5, Cornell, Ferlin 3 (Lowry, Miller), 10:27. Penalties — McCarron, Cor (hooking), 17:24; Gostisbehere, Uni (embellishment), 17:24.
Shots on Goal — Cornell 11-14-11 — 36. Union 12-11-11 — 34.
Power-play opportunities — Cornell 0 of 4; Union 1 of 2.
Goalies — Cornell, Iles 8-6-2 (34 shots-32 saves). Union, Grosenick 6-6-4 (36-33).
A — 2,354. T — 2:28.
Referees — Andy O’Brien, Peter Feola. Linesmen — Jason Shattie, Justin Prusak.