For an extensive play-by-play of the game against Colgate, click here.
HAMILTON, N.Y. — Colgate’s brand new, multi-million dollar Class of 1965 Arena has all the bells and whistles of a facility meant for a high-caliber team, yet Cornell men’s hockey showed that no unblemished rink is too much to conquer. A final score of 3-2 gave the Red its third-straight win.
From a strategically-positioned student section — designed to get inside the heads of opposing goalies — to a sleek NHL-esque layout, the new arena provides Colgate with the opportunity to get the most of home-ice advantage. But Cornell did not care about that.
“It’s a fun atmosphere to play Colgate — like when they throw the gum out. It’s a pretty big game for them,” said senior forward Eric Freschi of Colgate fans’ tradition to throw out Big Red chewing gum during player introductions.
“It was one of those things where if you get a good start try to get the crowd out of it and get the momentum in our favor,” added senior defenseman Patrick McCarron.
Playing in a rare Tuesday night game, just three days after a draining trip to Madison Square Garden, it would have been excusable for Cornell to come out slow. But they didn’t.
Cornell got out to arguably its strongest start of the season, but was thwarted by an early Colgate goal. This was the seventh time in nine games the Red conceded the first goal of the game. When asked about this following the game, head coach Mike Schafer ’86 did not seem to worry much about it, stressing the fact that hockey is a “60-minute game.”
“We’ve been scored on first every friggin’ game, that’s been frustrating,” Schafer said, “but I don’t think we’ve been lacking.”
And his team came through to back up that claim. Just six minutes following Adam Dauda’s goal to put the Raiders ahead, McCarron danced around the zone on a four-on-three power play and rifled a shot past Colgate’s Charlie Finn. It came as Cornell had been utterly dominating play, leading in shots and controlling the pace.
The goal also gave McCarron points in seven-straight games, the longest streak for Cornell since Brian Ferlin’s ’15 seven-game streak ended in 2014.
McCarron was not done there, as the alternate captain would go on to score on a rebound with a wide-open net following a great effort by Freschi to start the play on the man-advantage.
“[McCarron’s] biggest strength is his creativity and ability to see the ice,” Schafer said of his senior. “He has pleased the coaching staff by being creative and being smart and making the right play and right read at the right time. When he does that he is a very, very effective hockey player.”
McCarron humbly attributes his scoresheet success more to the play of his teammates and general puck luck.
“Pucks have been kind of bouncing for me,” he said. “Some guys have been making plays and the team has been playing well, so it has nothing really to do with me.”
Tonight’s two goals give McCarron five career points against Colgate, many of which have come against Finn. As a friendly rivalry has developed between the two, most of McCarron’s points came later in his career, highlighting his new focus on offensive production.
“I’m just trying to contribute anyway I can,” he said. “Earlier in my career I was just trying to hash down my defensive play and learn how to play defense first and now I’m trying to evolve into a more two-way defenseman.”
Freschi, too, wanted in on the action and his strong play payed off just two minutes after McCarron’s second goal. In his 100th career game, Freschi sent home a slick pass from freshman forward Jeff Malott for his first goal of the season and second point of the game.
“Thank god one of them went in finally,” he said. “My line has been playing well lately, especially Malott – he’s been pulling his weight out there recently. I’m glad one went in for us.”
It was Malott’s first career point, and the freshman got it done in style by pulling the puck between his legs on the rush and then sending it across the crease for a layup for Freschi.
“I know that he can do that all the time because he’s a big guy with hands and you don’t see that too often,” Freschi said of his linemate. “I know he has it in him.”
As per usual, Schafer said he is happy with picking up two points on road, but is always looking for where the team can improve. One such instance came as the game was winding down. With Cornell holding a 3-1 lead, freshman Corey Hoffman — playing in his first career game — took a brutal hit in a sequence of events that gave Colgate a goal to cut the deficit to one.
Schafer called his team out for playing complacent once they got ahead.
“We fell asleep as soon as it went to 3-1. It’s like we forgot how to play hockey,” he said. “We talked to our guys about in that kind of game, we need to do a much better job of finishing teams off and we just didn’t play the right way [tonight] … and therefore made it a close game.”
It is a hectic week for the program, as an ever-tough Miami (OH) opponent looms just several days away. Schafer has said he likes to get more game experience earlier in the season, but given the injuries some key players sustained, the plethora of games may not be ideal for a weakened team.
Regardless, the Red faces yet another quick turnaround, but if tonight is any indicator, the team will be poised to come out guns blazing against Miami back in front of the Lynah Faithful.