Twelve minutes into the third period, Brown (1-4-2, 1-3-2 ECAC) went on the power play for the fourth time against Cornell (6-1-1, 4-1-1 ECAC). With a one-goal lead, the Red leaned on their defense and goaltending to stifle the Brown power play.
As a Brown forward found some space with a lane to shoot, junior defenseman Patrick McCarron sprawled out to stop the Brown shot and made a crucial clear to help kill the penalty. It was a gritty play that embodied the toughness and willingness to sacrifice that Cornell hockey prides itself on.
“It was an outstanding effort by our guys blocking shots,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86.
The Red held on to beat Brown 1-0. It was the third shutout of the year for junior goalie Mitch Gillam, who came into tonight’s matchup with a 1.82 goals against average. Gillam was sensational tonight, finishing with 27 saves.
“Mitch Gillam was the star of the show,” Schafer said.
It wasn’t an easy win for the Red. Cornell’s tendency to commit errors early on continued tonight, with Brown getting an early power play. Senior defenseman and team captain Reece Willcox made several solid plays on the penalty kill. Willcox has been one of the most reliable players for the Red this season, with one goal and five assists and terrific defensive play.
Brown had Cornell on its heels for most of the first period, outshooting Cornell 10-3. Gillam made a series of outstanding saves to keep the game knotted at 0-0.
“[Brown] played a really solid hockey game,” Schafer said. “But we didn’t play with the same kind of urgency, enthusiasm, and energy that we did last night.”
In last night’s matchup with Yale (4-1-2, 2-1-2 ECAC), Cornell played a fast, back and forth game that ultimately ended in a scoreless tie after both teams failed to score in overtime. The Red came out a little sluggish after the intense matchup on Friday night.
Injuries have also piled up for the Red this season. All things considered, Schafer was pleased to escape out of Brown with the victory.
“With all of the guys we have hurt and out of the lineup, it says a lot about our hockey team to be able to score one goal on the weekend and get three points,” Schafer said.
Midway through the second period, sophomore forward Trevor Yates dashed in front of the net and scored the decisive goal for the Red. Junior forwards Jake Weidner and Matt Buckles assisted on the goal.
“The goal came from a turnover that Jake Weidner got on the forecheck as he stripped the [Brown] defenseman,” Schafer said. “Yates went to the goal line and finished the job.”
The matchup was expected to be an offensive showcase, as Cornell came in ranked 8th in the nation in goals scored and Brown came in ranked 20th. Yet, the relatively solid play of both defenses and the excellent play of Gillam kept the game at 1-0 going into the third period.
Sophomore forward Alex Rauter drew a penalty for the Red late in the second period, which carried over for the start of the third period. Nonetheless, Cornell was unable to score on the power play and Brown created a short-handed attempt on goal that was pushed away by Gillam.
Brown went on the power play twice in the third period, but various blocks from the Cornell defense were pivotal. Brown’s inability to score on the power play was the deciding factor in tonight’s game.
With a minute left, freshman forward Tommy Marchin had another great opportunity to tie the game for Brown. He backhanded the shot into the pad of Gillam, who was just too good for the Red tonight.
“Over the last four games [Gillam] has been outstanding,” Schafer said. “He’s been seeing and reading the puck very well and that’s what happens when goalies get confidence.”
If Gillam can continue his hot stretch of play, Cornell, already an explosive offensive team, will present challenges for every team on the schedule this season.