In search of its first victory since Nov. 11 over Harvard, the men’s hockey team won a pair of games over Niagara this past weekend by scores of 5-4 and 5-3 respectively. No. 12 Cornell improved its record to 6-3-1 overall, while maintaining its 3-2-1 mark in ECACHL play.
In Friday evening’s contest at Lynah Rink, Cornell received two crucial third period goals from junior forward Mark McCutcheon, as the Red edged the Purple Eagles, 5-4. McCutcheon entered the contest with only one career goal, but proved to be the difference against Niagara.
Junior defenseman Ryan O’Byrne gave Cornell the early lead in the first period, beating Niagara goaltender Jeff Van Nynatten at the 4:21 mark. After the Purple Eagles tied the score at 1, freshman forward Ryan Kindret posted his first career goal at 16:23 to give the Red the lead.
Cornell increased its advantage to 3-1 at 11:21 in the second period, as sophomore forward Raymond Sawada tallied his third goal of the season. However, Niagara refused to allow the Red to pull away, as the Purple Eagles answered with two goals in the latter part of the second period to knot the score at three.
After that, McCutcheon took over, scoring his first goal at the 5:05 mark and netting the eventual game-winner just over three minutes later. The second score was short-handed, as the Red snapped its three-game winless streak and captured its first home victory since the season-opener against Michigan State.
Twelve different Cornell players recorded at least one point on Friday, with junior defenseman Evan Salmela posting a pair of assists. Even though the final score shows a one-goal Red victory, Cornell out shot Niagara 38-21, with junior goaltender David McKee saving 21 of those attempts.
The two squads met again on Saturday evening, this time at a neutral site at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y. Similar to the night before, the Red received contributions from unlikely sources, as three freshman scored goals in the first two frames. However, the veteran O’Byrne had to salvage the victory late, scoring the game-winner in the third period to improve Cornell’s road record to 4-1.
After falling behind 1-0 early in the first period, rookie forward Evan Barlow netted the first goal of his collegiate career, beating Niagara goaltender Scott Mollison up high on his glove side.
Cornell dominated the puck in the latter part of the first period and continued to do so in the second, as the Red took a 3-1 lead. Kindret scored for the second straight game to put Cornell ahead at the 9:55 mark, and the advantage was padded about five minutes later on freshman Michael Kennedy’s first career goal.
However, despite constant pressure by the Red offense, Niagara fought back in the third period, beating McKee twice on the power play at 12:17 and 14:47 to tie the score at three. With the momentum shifted in the Purple Eagles’ favor, O’Byrne answered with a one-timer at 17:10 to secure the Red victory. Senior Matt Moulson added an insurance goal – his team-leading seventh of the season – on an empty netter with 1:05 remaining in regulation.
McKee finished the night with 29 saves, holding Niagara to 2-of-5 on the power play. In contrast, Cornell went 2-of-7 on special teams.
The Red will return to the ice on Friday at 7 p.m., when it welcomes Ivy rival Princeton to Lynah Rink.
Archived article by Bryan Pepper
Sun Assistant Sports Editor