Friday, March 21, 2008

Daily Double

It's rare that I get to watch my two favorite hockey teams play simultaneously. So tonight was a pretty good way to spend an evening. In the right sight line, I had Islanders-Devils on the TV. In the left sight line, Cornell-Harvard in the semifinals of the ECAC Hockey Championship live via ($8.00 for the single game pass). The results were a mixed bag.

Cornell was the visiting team in the ECAC tournament game contested at the Times Union Center in Albany. I clicked on the "visitors" link hoping to hear a Big Red broadcast. Instead, I got the Crimson announcers. Thinking the site had possibly reversed the links, I fired off a quick e-mail to customer service asking if it were possible to access the Cornell broadcast without having to purchase another pass. B2TV Networks impressed me with an almost immediate reply that consisted solely of a link. The fact that the link included "harvard" in its address wasn't promising, however. Indeed, I was once again fed the broadcast in a darker shade of red. At that point, it wasn't worth pursuing anymore as I had two hockey games to watch and only two eyes!

The webcast, while not superclear, was high enough quality to be enjoyable to watch. The audio was often a second or two ahead of the video. I'm only pointing all of this out because B2TV also webcasts minor league hockey games, including those of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. So, if the Sound Tigers find themselves involved in critical games over the next few weeks (a likely event), you may have the option of watching the game in the comfort of your own home.

As for the game, Cornell fell victim to a couple of lapses in discipline and was unable to contain the Harvard power play. The Crimson scored two quick goals with the man advantage on consecutive opportunities in the second period. Cornell responded quickly after the second goal to cut the lead in half with a power-play marker of its own.

In the third period, Cornell really took the play to its arch rival. The Big Red dominated possession and fired 16 shots on goal. Unfortunately, tonight's version of the Big Red looked a little like the Islanders in that it struggled mightily to finish its scoring chances. Still trailing 2-1 with just under three minutes left, Cornell took its sixth minor of the game. Harvard scored its third power-play goal in six chances to put the game away. Cornell was unable to cut into the margin with a 6-on-4 advantage in the waning minutes.

Harvard's Doug Rogers, a fourth-round draft choice of the Islanders in 2006, picked up an assist on the second Crimson goal and took five shots. Rogers stands second on the team in scoring with 13 goals and 20 assists in 34 games. He is a +15.

Cornell's season ends at 18-14-3 with no chance for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. [Note: Cornell defeated Colgate 4-2 in Saturday's consolation game.] The Big Red can be optimistic about the years to come. This year's top two scorers, Colin Greening (Ottawa) and Riley Nash (Edmonton), are a sophomore and a freshman, respectively. Assuming they don't leave early, they should be fun to watch for a few more years. Starting goaltender Ben Scrivens is also a sophomore. The team will lose only four seniors.

Fortunately, the Cornell game ended just in time for me to focus on a helmetless Kyle Okposo ripping an off-balance one-timer past Martin Brodeur to give the Isles a 2-1 lead over the Devils with 2:35 remaining. The power play
goal, off a Richard Park feed, was Okposo's first in the NHL and his second point, after an assist on a Blake Comeau tally earlier in the evening. Wade Dubielewicz stood, well, tall in the face of a strong Devils attack. Dubie continues to state his case for being a legitimate NHL netminder who can be relied upon in any situation.

Bryan Berard recorded two assists, including the secondary on Okposo's goal. Trent Hunter sealed the fight-filled game with a rare Islanders empty-net goal. Bill Guerin, Matt Spiller, and Josef Vasicek all took fighting majors, as Ted Nolan got his wish for a more spirited performance. Spiller was the unfortunate recipient of an Arron Asham knockout punch to the cheek that drew blood.

The win by the Islanders and the performance by Okposo were a nice salve to the wound that was the Cornell loss. A double-victory would have been nice. But, for a hockey fan, it was still a pretty good way to spend an evening.

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