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Iles stymies Golden Knights, leads Big Red to 2-1 victory

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ITHACA — A 28-save effort by senior goalie Andy Iles helped the Cornell University men’s hockey team defeat Clarkson 2-1 in the opening game of a best-of-three ECAC Hockey quarterfinal series Friday night at Lynah Rink.

Iles, an Ithaca native playing in his final home games, was nearly perfect for the Big Red (16-8-5 overall) in the opener.

Clarkson (20-16-4) needs to win game two at 7 p.m. tonight in order to force a deciding game three Sunday.

The only blemish for Iles Friday was surrendering a penalty-shot goal to Clarkson freshman Jordan Boucher at 14 minutes, 49 seconds of the second period.

“I think we can play better,” Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. “We talked about that. I thought they did a good job taking time and space away. We’ll look at the tape and see what adjustments we can make. I thought it was a hard-fought game. Every inch of the ice was tough to come by tonight. Both teams were competing physically.”

Cornell, now 6-0-1 in its past seven games against Clarkson at Lynah Rink, started the game peppering shots at Golden Knights goalie Steve Perry.

But despite the early offensive push it was Clarkson that thought it may have scored the first goal of the game when Boucher had a shot at 5:15 that hit the top of the crossbar and dropped down. After a lengthy video review, the officials ruled no goal.

The Big Red finally scored at 11:33 of the opening period when defenseman Kirill Gotovets scored on the third rebound of a shot originally taken by Jeff Kubiak. John McCarron also assisted on the play.

Clarkson started out the second period the same way Cornell opened the first, putting a lot of pressure on Iles looking for a tying goal.

But Clarkson’s momentum was stopped when Troy Josephs appeared to collide with Iles behind Cornell’s net at 2:21 of the second period. Iles fell and hit his head on the ice and was down for a few moments while a team trainer checked his head for cuts.

Josephs was given a game misconduct and Cornell was awarded a five-minute major.

The Big Red capitalized just 19 seconds into the major with a goal from defenseman Joakim Ryan, giving Cornell a 2-0 lead.

“That was huge, especially to score right in the beginning,” Ryan said. “It put the momentum in our favor. It was good to get a power-play goal, too. It was a huge part of the game.”

Clarkson limited the damage to just that one goal and had two minutes of Cornell’s major wiped out when Ben Sexton drew a cross-checking penalty on Cornell’s Matt Buckles.

“We’re still a confident group, absolutely,” Sexton said. “I thought they had us on the run a little bit in the first period, but we settled in, and I thought we had a good second and a good third. We are looking to continue that momentum.”

Boucher, who produced scoring chances all night for Clarkson, wound up scoring Clarkson’s only goal by using his speed to create a breakaway chance on Iles, which resulted in him being pulled down from behind and awarded a penalty shot.

“Jordan played really well,” Clarkson assistant captain Jarrett Burton said. “When he gets his feet moving he’s a really tough player to stop. That’s what happened on that breakaway. He forced a great penalty shot and made a great move.”

Clarkson was unable to get anything past Iles in the third period.

“It was a tough, hard-fought game, which we expected,” Cornell coach Mike Schafer said. “We’ve had close games with them all year. We expected it to be a one-goal game. We had some good pressure. I thought they had good pressure in the second period. I thought we did a good job in the third and limited their chances.”

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