Monday, November 30, 2009

Disappointing Tie for Cornell; Trivino Makes a Point

In a Red-Hot contest before a (legitimate) sold-out crowd of 18,200 at Madison Square Garden, Cornell and BU played to an exciting 3-3 draw Saturday night.

For the 10,000+ members of the Lynah Faithful in attendance, it was hard not to walk away feeling that their team came out on the short end of the tie. This was a great opportunity for Cornell—to avenge the 6-3 loss to BU at this event two years ago, and to earn a feather in their beanies for taking down the defending national champion, even if this year's version of the Terriers struggled out of the gate and must come from behind to get back in both the Hockey East and Frozen Four races.

Cornell, despite its storied history and a recent decade of strong results, always seems to be standing just outside the velvet rope of the NCAA Elite Hockey Club. A win over BU certainly could have helped mitigate that perception.

When Cornell jumped out to a 2-0 lead inside five and a half minutes on goals by Sean Whitney (Ryan's brother) and Locke Jillson (not Jeff's brother) and BU appeared a little sluggish, thoughts of a blowout even bubbled up in the Big Red end of the arena.

But midway through the game, the Cornell offense slipped into a state of satisfaction and its effective cycle mostly sputtered and then disappeared. The open shots the Big Red did get were harmless snap shots from outside the dots. Meanwhile, BU came alive and showed that with Kevin Shattenkirk, Chris Connolly, and Nick Bonino, there's still plenty of talent left at BU.

By the end of the second period, Cornell still held a 3-1 lead thanks to a Blake Gallagher tally despite being outshot 19-11. Goaltender Ben Scrivens probably should have stopped the BU goal, but overall was far more composed and effective than in his Garden start two years ago.

In the third, the ice continued to tilt the wrong way for the Big Red. The Terriers made it 3-2 at the 4:03 mark when Bonino looked for Connolly on a 2-on-1 and saw his pass deflect past Scrivens off Cornell defenseman Brendan Nash's stick.

In an ending that only an Islanders fan could appreciate, Cornell found itself down two men with 1:58 remaining and a one-goal lead. To up the ante, BU head coach Jack Parker pulled goalie Grant Rollheiser, giving his team a 6-on-3 advantage for 38 seconds. Cornell actually survived that onslaught.

But with Brandon Nash just out of the box, the Terriers converted the 6-on-4. Connolly followed up a Vinny Saponari shot that Scrivens appeared to have stopped. If Scrivens did squeeze the puck at some point, he didn't get it long enough to satisfy the referee. Connolly found the loose puck and poked it home with the ref pointing emphatically the whole way. The play was followed by a discussion amongst the officials, but the goal stood.

In overtime, the Cornell offense re-ignited, generating numerous good scoring chances. But nothing got by Rollheiser or Scrivens. Final shot totals: BU 35, Cornell 17.

For the record, no riots followed the game ending in a tie.

Ah, yes, there is more to this story. Do you think it's good or bad that I did that entire recap without mentioning 2008 Islanders 2nd Round Draft Pick, #10, Corey Trivino? It's neither, really—just building the suspense. Here, then, are my impressions of Trivino...

For a while, it was looking as though the theme of this report was shaping up to be that Trivino didn't strike me as particularly special. To be honest, that never changed. But leaving it at that would be seriously shortchanging his play.

Early on, the best thing I could say about Trivino was that he wasn't afraid to play physical hockey. At 6-1, 180 lbs, he looks lanky out there. But his lack of a large frame didn't stop him from going shoulder to shoulder along the boards. Other than that, there just wasn't much to say.

On the skill side, Trivino, made a nice rush up the middle from the blue line in the first period and got off a good, hard wrister that Scrivens stopped. Unfortunately, the play led to the breakaway on which Jillson scored Cornell's second goal.

Trivino saw time on BU's second power play unit, but didn't get appear on the penalty kill.

It was around the time that BU started taking control of the play that I started noticing Trivino more and more. Midway through the second, he went into the corner in the defensive zone, did some dirty work, and came out with the puck. It was a gritty play that made me smile a little even though I was rooting for the other side.

Trivino almost got on the scoreboard with about four minutes left in the second. He came out of the corner to find the puck headed his way on a nice cross-ice feed to the right post and an open short side. But his backhand deflection went wide.

By the third period, it seemed like Trivino was on the ice every other shift. This was helped by the fact that BU had four of its seven power play opportunities in the third (box score says three of six—still trying to figure out the disparity). On those power plays, he was a focal point stationed in the right faceoff circle and being fed constantly.

What impressed me the most, however, was that Coach Parker leaned on Trivino heavily down the stretch in the faceoff circle. In the final ten minutes of regulation and in the overtime, Trivino took, and won, a number of key draws in both zones. For the game, he finished 11-6 on faceoffs while taking the second most after Bonino, who was 14-14. Trivino had three shots on goal and was -1.

Was Trivno a star in this game? No. Did he look like a special player? Not necessarily. But he's 19 years old and not John Tavares. He's a college sophomore and he definitely has the chance to develop into a solid prospect. He needs to get a little bigger. And I think he'll benefit from staying in school and becoming a team leader in a year or two.

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