PRINCETON, N.J. — Hitting the road after playing five of its last six games at home — all of which were hard-fought, intense affairs — the No. 5 men’s hockey team was looking for a game that would allow it some breathing room as it headed towards the end of the regular season. The Red (17-4-3, 13-2-2 ECACHL) found that type of game Friday night, as it breezed past Princeton, 5-0, at Baker Rink. It was Cornell’s 10th consecutive victory against the Tigers (6-16-2, 4-12-1 ECACHL), dating back to the 2000-01 season.
The Red used a dominant defensive effort and remarkable efficiency on special teams to extend its unbeaten streak to nine, while head coach Mike Schafer ’86 stayed at the team hotel because he was feeling under the weather.
Cornell opened the scoring at 11:16 in the first period, as Princeton’s Darroll Powe was serving a hooking penalty. Senior captain Mike Knoepfli started the play, dumping a pass off to junior forward Daniel Pegoraro in the left corner. Pegoraro made a centering pass towards the crease, looking for freshman Doug Krantz. However, as Krantz fell down in front of the crease, the puck hit a Princeton player’s skate and deflected into the goal. Sophomore Ryan O’Byrne was also credited with an assist on the play.
“The first goal came off the deflection of our guy on a pass from the front. He actually tried to shoot the puck and it deflected in,” said Princeton head coach Guy Gadowsky. “Really, if you don’t count that, they got one shot on the four power plays. I thought for us, we killed very well.”
The Red added two quick goals midway through the second to make the scoreboard reflect the dominating effort Cornell was displaying on the ice. First, junior Chris Abbott chipped the puck over Princeton goalie Eric Leroux’s right shoulder off a feed from freshman Topher Scott at 12:03. Then, just 56 seconds later, Cornell scored its second power play goal of the night, as senior assistant captain Charlie Cook took a hard slapper from the left faceoff circle, giving the Red an imposing three-goal advantage.
Cook’s power play goal was the Red’s second of the game, coming on its fourth extra-man opportunity. In five power plays on the night, the Red took only two shots, but scored on both.
“We try to work the puck around and get a good shot — we’re not a team that forces a lot of pucks to the net on the power play. We really believe that you have to break the other team down and get a good shot, and that’s what we did,” said Cornell assistant Scott Garrow, who shared Schafer’s responsibilities behind the bench with fellow assistant Brent Brekke on Friday.
At 6:34 in the third, senior assistant captain Mike Iggulden demonstrated the other side of Cornell’s effective special teams this season, as he scored his second shorthanded goal of the season to give the Red a 4-0 lead. Iggulden picked up a puck deep in the Cornell zone and sped down ice uncontested before beating Leroux stick-side.
“[Senior Paul Varteressian] pressured their one D, the puck was bobbling, and their other defenseman they passed it to had his back to me, so I was able to pressure him, sneak up on him, poke check the puck out of his stick, and the puck ended up going to the red line,” Iggulden said. “I knew I was gone, so I just went in. I was thinking about shooting, I saw him go down early, I was patient, and pulled it back to my forehand.”
Junior assistant captain Matt Moulson sealed the deal with his 16th goal of the season less than a minute later, at 7:26 in the third.
Meanwhile, McKee faced 19 shots, saving all of them for his sixth shutout of the season and the 11th of his career. The 11 shutouts tie him with David LeNeveu ’05 for second on Cornell’s all-time list. Characteristically, the Cornell defense was solid, keeping the Tigers’ chances limited.
“They play really well every night. I’ve come to expect it I guess,” McKee said. “They had some really good blocks. There was a 2-on-1 in the second period, and they were trying to go back door and Paul made a great block on the PK. They always play great.”
McKee also tied Laing Kennedy’s ’63 school record with his 56th consecutive game played.
Archived article by Owen Bochner
Sun Sports Editor