Although Harvard sits atop the ECAC after another weekend sweep, Cornell is the team to beat.
After blowing out Union on Friday night, the nationally ranked No. 4 Big Red defeated Rensselaer in a tight game Saturday. Dartmouth, ranked in the nation’s top 15, remained winless in its last four games, dropping its first home game of the season to the University of Vermont Saturday night.
The Crimson currently lead the league with 22 points but have played four more games than Cornell, which sits in second place with 18 points.
Cornell 6, Union 0
The Big Red (14-3-0, 9-1-0 ECAC), coming off a two week break, proved worthy of their No. 4 national ranking against a Union (8-11-4, 4-5-2) team that struggled to keep up.
David LeNeveu got his sixth shutout of the season and team points leader Ryan Vesce, named this week’s ECAC player of the week, scored two goals and assisted once, raising his season total to 26.
The Big Red took control immediately from the start, netting two goals in less than three minutes early in the first period. Winger Cam Abbot put in a rebound from the point for his sixth goal of the season, and winger Matt Moulson increased the lead to two off a Vesce feed.
Cornell headed to the locker room at the first intermission with a 3-0 lead, and Vesce scored his first goal of the game 1:04 into the second on an unconventional goal. While Vesce skated toward the Union goal, Dutchmen goaltender Tim Roth fell; the puck slid into the net without a shot attempt.
Vesce added his second of the game on the power play a little over halfway through the second period.
LeNeveau made 17 stops in his shutout effort.
Cornell 3, RPI 2
Though sitting near the basement of the ECAC, the Engineers gave the Big Red a run for their money in Troy, N.Y.
Cornell (14-3-0, 9-1-0), coming off an easy victory over Union, scored three second period goals to secure the lead for good.
The Engineers (8-14-2, 2-6-2) struck early; Nick Economakos scored at 2:03 of the first period. RPI skated to the locker room with a one goal lead, but the Big Red scored early in the second to knot the game at one: winger Stephen Baby put a backhander by Engineer goaltender Nathan Marsters.
The Big Red took the lead on their fifth power-play of the game; Baby scored his second goal of the game on a Vesce pass, following a three point effort against Union the previous night.
Vesce scored the game winning goal on the power-play, tipping a Baby shot over Marsters’ shoulder.
At 5:33 of the third period, RPI pulled within one goal on the power-play; Brad Farynuk’s dump-in took a funny bounce off the boards and landed on Kirk MacDonald’s stick, who beat LeNeveau.
LeNeveau finished the game with 13 saves; Marsters finished with 21.
Vermont 6, Dartmouth 4
The Catamounts (7-10-3, 4-6-0) came back from a 3-0 deficit to score five goals in less than five minutes to beat the Big Green (9-7-1, 5-5-0) in Hanover, N.H.
In the middle of the second period, Dartmouth held a three goal lead, but goals by Jeff Corey and alternate captain Bryson Busniuk brought UVM within one at the break.
The Catamounts carried their momentum into the third period, and Busniuk scored his second goal of the game on the power-play, beating Big Green goaltender Dan Yacey to tie the game at three.
It did not take long for Vermont to capitalize again on Dartmouth’s breakdown; winger Jeff Miles gave the Catamounts a 4-3 lead. Tim Plant scored the game winner when a Big Green winger partially blocked his shot, sending it over Yacey’s head and into the net.
Dartmouth got within one on a goal from Mike Wheelihan, but the Big Green could not capitalize on a two man advantage late in the third period. Plant scored his second of the game on an empty netter.
The Catamounts outshot Darmouth 40-17. Yacey made 34 saves in the losing effort.