The No. 8 men’s hockey team entered the weekend as the only remaining undefeated team in the NCAA, boasting one of the most prolific offenses in the nation. Hoping to lengthen its winning streak, the Red (4-1-1, 2-0-0 ECACHL) travelled to East Lansing, Mich., for a two-game set against Michigan State on Friday night and yesterday afternoon. The Spartans had other ideas, limiting Cornell to one goal on the weekend. After playing to a 1-1 tie on Friday night, Michigan State blanked the Red en route to a 2-0 victory yesterday, Cornell’s first loss of the season.
“Any time you go on the road and you’re playing a team as good as Michigan State, it’s always a challenge,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “We definitely found which areas of the game we want to improve upon, but I thought we played well against a very good team. It gives us confidence that we belong where we are.”
The Red’s high-powered offense, which averaged 5.75 goals in its first four games, could not get going on Friday night, while on the other end, sophomore goalie David McKee was peppered with a multitude of shots. Whle McKee made several remarkable saves — some from point-blank range — the Spartans capitalized on the man advantage early in the first.
With junior Jon Gleed in the box, Michigan State’s Ash Goldie received the puck at the top of the right circle, and blasted a shot that beat McKee glove-high at 5:54.
After only registering three shots in the first period, the Red capitalized on one of its five shots in the second period. At 4:11, freshman Doug Krantz’s shot from the left point found the back of the net after richoting off of the left post and the skate of Spartan goalie Dominic Vicari. The tally, which was assisted by classmate Raymond Sawada and junior Cam Abbott, was Krantz’s first collegiate goal.
The Red’s penalty kill was tested in the second period, as it had to kill off eight penalties, including 1:22 of 5-on-3. Early in the third period, McKee stoned Goldie on a breakaway with a glove save. Although the Red had two power plays early in the period, the penalty-killing unit provided an offensive spark late in regulation, as senior assistant captain Mike Iggulden stole tht e puck and fed it ahead to Abbott, who broke free up the left side. After faking a shot left, Abbott took a shot from the right, but the puck went wide.
In overtime, Michigan State outshot the Red, 4-1, almost scoring in the waning seconds of the game. With the Red shorthanded for the final 0:47 of overtime, Abbott had two great scoring chances, but couldn’t convert.
Vicari finished the game with 20 saves for the Spartans, while McKee recorded a career-high 36.
“It was an outstanding performance by [McKee],” Schafer said. “We definitely left him out to dry there a few too many times, that’s something we need to work on, but Friday night he stole the point for us. It proves we are definitely strong at that position.”
“That might be the best game we have played all year,” Michigan State head coach Rick Comley said after Friday night’s game. “We had a chance to get up by three or four, but their goaltending held them in there. It was about as much as you could want in a 1-1 game.” After a day off on Saturday, the two teams resumed their series yesterday afternoon. The Spartans struck first again, as Bryan Lerg grabbed a rebound off of a shot from A.J. Thelen and slid the puck through McKee’s five-hole at 15:43 in the first period. Both teams were held scoreless in the second, as Vicari and McKee turned away several scoring chances.
While the Red’s play in the second and third periods was reminscent of its earlier games, the Spartans doubled their lead at 5:13 in the third. As Michigan State crashed the net, Jim McKenzie received the puck in the slot and fed it to Chris Mueller, who beat McKee on a backhanded shot.
“I thought we played the style of hockey in the second and third period that is typical of our hockey team,” Schafer said. “I thought we deserved a worse fate on Friday night, and I thought we deserved a better fate [yesterday]; and that’s the way that hockey can be sometimes.”
McKee was pulled for the final 1:50, but the Red could not cut the Spartans’ lead. After being outshot, 37-21, on Friday, the Red posted a 32-22 shot advantage yesterday. Vicari’s 32 saves earned him his first shutout of the season, while McKee stopped 20.
“I thought their size really played a factor in the game and they came at us hard,” Comley said. “Their goaltender obviously is outstanding and Dom reacted to him and the two goalies went toe-to-toe.”
While the Red failed to get a win on its road trip, playing a tough opponent like the Spartans gave Cornell the chance to identify the weak points of its game in preparation for the upcoming conference slate.
“I like to play tough opponents,” Schafer said. “You really don’t find out what your weaknesses are until you play someone that’s a strong team, and they had a good team. It gives us an opportunity to go back and refine things.”
Archived article by Jonathan Auerbach
Sun Staff Writer