Two pivotal games against nemesis Harvard this season, two last-second goals for Cornell men’s hockey. Only Friday — this time on the road — it was significantly less dramatic than the thrilling game-winner in November.
Junior forward Anthony Angello earned himself a natural hat trick on an empty net goal from center ice with one second remaining Friday, securing his team’s 3-0 win — much to the delight of a raucous traveling Cornell fan base.
“This is our home away from home, in a way,” Angello said. “I think our band is three times as loud as theirs and our fans maybe even a little louder.”
Freshman goaltender Matt Galajda certainly looked right at home between the pipes at Bright-Landry hockey center, also known as “Lynah East,” making 35 saves and earning his third consecutive shutout, a first for a Cornell freshman. Galajda extended his shutout streak to 220 minutes and 30 seconds, good for second-best in program history.
With the victory, Cornell maintains both its unbeaten streak — now nine — and its place atop the ECAC standings, tied for first with No. 3/2 Clarkson.
“I don’t think it was that pretty,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “It was a gutty performance on the road to get two points.”
Never one to oversell his performance, Galajda said he looks forward to building on the momentum and extending his team’s stretch of success in a key matchup with Dartmouth Saturday.
“The puck seems to be bouncing my way right now and we’ll keep it rolling tomorrow night,” Galajda said. His sixth shutout of the season is the most for a freshman in Cornell history.
Angello, now with nine goals in his last nine games, led the way offensively for Cornell (17-2-1, 11-1-1 ECAC) with his ninth, 10th and 11th goals of the season. To back up the offensive production, Galajda dominated yet again as Cornell’s best-in-the-nation defense kept U.S. Olympian Ryan Donato and Harvard (9-7-4, 8-4-3) off the scoreboard for the first time all season.
“All four lines knew when [Donato] was on the ice,” Schafer said. “You have to know when he’s on the ice, you better play him one-on-one strong, you better keep your feet moving against him.”
The highlight-reel performance was perhaps Galajda’s most challenging of all his shutouts yet. The Crimson peppered the rookie with scoring chances, especially in the second period, during which the Harvard outshot the Red, 13-6.
A back-and-forth opening period saw the Red take a 1-0 advantage into the locker room thanks to Angello’s first strike and the first of three early Cornell penalty kills.
“I think as a whole we brought it to them and got pucks to the net, and good things happen when we do that,” Angello said.
After failing to convert on one minute of power play time left over from the opening frame to open the second period, the Red fended off several Harvard advances, holding off the Crimson to enter the final intermission still clinging to a one-goal lead.
One of Galajda’s biggest saves of the night came with under five minutes left in the second frame when he sprawled to glove a redirect off the stick of Harvard’s Michael Floodstrand.
“He’s very, very calm in the net,” Schafer said of his goaltender. “He doesn’t get running around or sliding around in there.”
Angello gave the Red some breathing room 6:33 into the third, rifling a shot that ricocheted off the post and then off Harvard goalie Michael Lackey before trickling into the net.
Cornell dominated the first half of the closing period, outshooting the Crimson, 10-4, entering the midway media timeout.
With Angello’s insurance goal in hand, Galajda settled further into his element. The rookie netminder made several more big stops, including an instance in which he covered up a shot after a flurry of chances in his crease with around eight minutes left. The lockdown defense did its job the rest of the way, squashing Harvard’s few remaining opportunities.
The “gutty” game was yet another tough battle between the two storied rivals.
“It was a hard-fought game,” Schafer said. “I said to [Harvard coach] Ted Donato at the end it was just typical [of the rivalry matchup], a battle to the very end.”
Coming off the key win, the Red will travel to New Hampshire to take on Dartmouth, another of the ECAC’s hottest teams, at 7 p.m. Saturday.