Whenever the No. 12 Cornell and Harvard hockey teams take to the ice together, there are always common characteristics — physical matchups, stingy goalkeeping and the occasional flying seafood.
But in more recent times, the rivalry has been typified by Red dominance — and this trend continued on Friday night.
Cornell (3-0-0, 1-0-0 ECACHL) got goals on special teams from senior captain Mike Knoepfli and sophomore Ryan O’Byrne for a 2-0 win over Harvard — its fifth straight against the Crimson.
“I thought it was a good game,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “Both teams played well. It was a good college hockey game, and these games always live up to the rivalry.”
Like it did a week ago against Army and Sacred Heart, special teams played an important role and the Red made the most of its opportunities. Cornell drew only five penalties on the night, and killed off each of them, while scoring on one of its six power play opportunities.
“No doubt, the game was lost for us in special teams,” said Harvard head coach Ted Donato. “We battled right to the end, but we just didn’t execute on special teams.”
Particularly impressive was Cornell’s penalty kill unit. After not scoring a shorthanded goal in two years, the team has now scored two in its first three games. After sophomore Mitch Carefoot dispossessed a Crimson player, he found Knoepfli streaking towards goal as the captain’s first-time shot gave Grumet-Morris no chance. The goal came at 19:10 of the first period and 50 seconds into the first of two O’Byrne’s cross-checking penalties as Carefoot picked up his second assist of the season.
“It was a good penalty kill,” Knoepfli said. “Mitch [Carefoot] did a good job pressuring the guy. He put the puck in the middle and I just beat him [Harvard goalie Dov Grumet-Morris].” Cornell’s second goal of the night came late on a power play in the second period. O’Byrne, playing the point, took a hard slapper from behind a screen above the right faceoff circle from a pass by junior Dan Pegoraro.
“It was pretty obvious that special teams was the difference in the game,” said Grumet-Morris, who had 32 saves on the night. “I thought everyone did a good job tonight, and the difference was the power play and penalty kill.”
“Both teams did a good job staying disciplined,” Schafer said. “They killed penalties very well. The two goals we scored [Grumet-Morris] didn’t have much of a chance on.”
Playing his third career game against Harvard, Cornell’s sophomore goaltender David McKee recorded his second shutout against the rival.
“Guys played great in front of me,” said McKee, who stopped all of the 17 shots he faced. “It was a pretty easy game. It felt really good, but I attribute the shutout to the team, it felt good to get it over with.”
“I didn’t think he had to be spectacular,” Schafer said. “Guys in front of him did a good job stopping shots.”
Archived article by Owen Bochner
Sun Sports Editor