So far in the young 2017-18 season, Cornell men’s hockey has played better than what was forecasted for an expectedly solid team, at times utterly dominating its opponents.
In Friday’s 3-0 win over Dartmouth, the Red’s overbearing play forced Green head coach Bob Gaudet to call a timeout and refocus his troops in the midst of an incredibly lopsided 1-0 game.
Eight seconds after the timeout, Cornell senior forward Trevor Yates erased any benefits of getting back to the drawing board for Dartmouth, burying his fifth goal in as many games to put his team up 2-0 late in the second period.
“The persistence to get that timeout with them being tired and then to score, it was probably deflating to them as a team,” head coach Mike Schafer ’86 said.
A shutdown penalty kill and some timely goals led Cornell to a dominant victory over Dartmouth — its first at Lynah since 2012 — leaving the 5-0 Red as the only remaining undefeated team in the country.
Freshman goalie Matt Galajda — pulled during his team’s 5-4 win over Princeton last weekend — returned to his strong play with his second shutout of the season in just five collegiate games played. He made 16 saves in the win.
“Nothing changed in the way I play since [Princeton],” Galajda said. “I just didn’t think I had enough edge last weekend. I didn’t compete hard enough, and tonight I went out there and competed for 60 minutes.”
The dominant Cornell penalty kill was tested often, but held strong, especially through a five-minute major to kill in the second period and numerous other Green power plays the third. The nation’s top penalty killing unit kept Dartmouth 0-4 on the man advantage.
The Red dominated the opening period, outshooting the Green 15-5, with most of the action taking place in the Dartmouth zone.
But it wasn’t until the 17:59 mark of the opening frame when Cornell saw its persistence pay off, as junior forward and captain Mitch Vanderlaan — moved to a line with classmates Anthony Angello and Beau Starrett — scored his first goal of the season off a feed from Angello, who won a puck battle along the left boards.
Then after some back-and-forth play to start the second period, Cornell’s penalty killing unit found itself with its first big test, granted a five-minute major penalty to kill after freshman defenseman Alex Green was sent to the box for boarding.
Only the five minutes of a disadvantage seemed to be anything but for Cornell, whose penalty killers made the kill, at times, feel more like a power play to the great delight of Lynah.
“Our penalty killers gave back the momentum to us in the sense of how they killed it off with their effort,” Schafer said. “Seeing our fans appreciate hard work and work ethic and tenacity, our players really responded to [our fans] tonight.”
Killing the major was a momentum shifter for the Red, as it was able to fend off some Dartmouth scoring chances throughout the second period. Galajda, who faced only five shots in the first period, stopped all nine he saw in the second.
At the 16:24 mark of the second period, eight seconds after Dartmouth called its timeout, freshman forward Cam Donaldson forced a turnover as Dartmouth tried to exit its zone, setting up Yates for his fifth goal of the season — a back-breaker of a goal for Dartmouth to give up.
“I saw that they were fumbling the puck getting out of the zone and kind of lifted the [defenseman] stick going the other way,” Donaldson said, who has assists in three games so far for a total of four. “I didn’t see anyone open so I put it on net hoping for the best and Yates got there and put it in the net.”
Donaldson’s classmate and linemate Morgan Barron also assisted on Yates’ goal to make him the first freshman in Cornell history to record a point in each of his first five games since newcomers began to see varsity action in 1975.
“They’ve stepped in and they’ve made an impact right away,” Vanderlaan said of the dynamic freshman duo.
Not to be outdone by the high-flying freshmen, the newly-formed Mitch Vanderlaan-Beau Starrett-Anthony Angello line struck again 1:03 into the third period, seconds after killing what remained of a Cornell penalty. Starrett and Vanderlaan picked up the assists after Angello broke behind the defense for a nifty breakaway goal, giving the Red a 3-0 lead. Angello and Vanderlaan both finished the night with their first goals of the season and an assist.
“You’re just going to have to call it the ‘BAM’ line now,” Schafer said, referencing the success of Vanderlaan, Angello and Jeff Kubiak’s ’17 “JAM” in recent years.
After the early third period goal, the Cornell defense dominated, allowing Dartmouth to muster only two shots on goal in the final frame. Other than a flurry of Dartmouth chances in the second, Cornell dominated play all game, outshooting the Green, 31-16.
Victorious in the contest before the Harvard game, the Red hits the ice at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow against No. 5 Harvard at Lynah.
“[Harvard’s] going to be ready to come out tomorrow night, they’re going to play really fast wanting to get that win over us,” said Donaldson, who is expected to get his first taste of the rivalry. “Definitely have this game highlighted on the calendar.”