By JACK KANTOR
Not since the start of the 2011-2012 season has Cornell scored at least 4 goals in 5 straight games—until Friday night. There was plenty of action at Lynah Rink on Friday night as the Cornell Red (4-1, 2-1 ECAC) took care of the Colgate Raiders (4-6,1-2 ECAC), 5-1, in the first of a two game series this weekend.
The goals came early in this one. At only 1:11 in the first Period, senior winger Christian Hilbrich put Cornell ahead of Colgate. On a broken play, freshman defenseman Alec McCrea chipped the puck up the ice to Hilbrich, who ended up with the puck in the center of the ice, one-on-one with the Raider’s goalie, Charlie Finn.
Finn stopped Hilbrich’s initial shot to the left side of the goal, but the puck bounced back a bit too far. Hilbrich snagged the deflected shot, skated around Finn, and placed the puck past the goal line.
“Their defenseman thought [the puck] was going all the way to the wall,” Hilbrich said. “I tapped it back through his legs; he kept going to the wall and gave me a clear line to the net. I put it…low blocker, followed it up and it squeaked on through.”
Slightly over a minute later, the Red struck again. This time, the goal came from sophomore forward Trevor Yates for his first goal of the season. Senior defenseman Reece Willcox fired off a shot from the point towards the Raider’s net. The puck found its way off the stick of Yates, who was well positioned in front of the goalie, into the goal. 2:17 into the first period Cornell already led, 2-0.
“Getting off to a quick start, two goals in two and a half minutes, is the way you want to start the game,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86.
Eventually Colgate was able to put themselves on the board after a pair of penalties from Yates and then sophomore forward Jared Fiegl. The Red was able to hold off the brief 5 on 3 with a nice glove save from junior goalie Mitch Gillam.
“We took a couple of undisciplined penalties in the first that allowed them to get basically a 5 on 3 goal,” Schafer said.
Right after Yates’ penalty expired, Colgate’s Mike Borkowski scored a power play goal. Borkowski was able to get a decent, but savable, shot past Gillam to put the Raiders within a goal of the Red.
Freshman wing Mitch Vanderlaan extended the Red’s lead on a key goal towards the end of the first period at 18:10. Yates flicked the puck into the Raiders’ zone where Vanderlaan received the puck alone on the right side.
Vanderlaan loaded up and sent a shot short-side past Finn where the puck slapped the back of the net. Heading into the first intermission there was already plenty of action, with Cornell on top by a couple of goals.
“The big goal, I thought, to make it 3-1 was Mitch Vanderlaan,” Schafer said. “Our defensemen moved the puck up quick and then Mitch bared his scoring chance. That was huge for us…going into the second period.”
The Red’s fourth goal would come off a 3 on 2 breakaway at 7:12 in the second period. The play started from junior center Jeff Kubiak who delivered the puck to Vanderlaan flying down the left wing. With a man advantage on the break, Vanderlaan passed it backwards to Junior defenseman Patrick McCarron who was open at the top of the zone.
“There weren’t many penalties today, which was different—a lot of 5 on 5 goals,” Hilbrich said. “It was good to see production from all four lines. All four lines today played great…we’ve got production from all over the place.”
McCarron knocked a shot towards the Colgate goaltender, but a bit too much to the center. Nevertheless, the shot was too much for Finn as he let the puck deflect off his helmet to give Cornell a 4-1 lead.
After a cross-checking penalty at 14:39 by sophomore foward Alex Rauter, the Red were able to come out of the penalty kill unscathed, despite facing several shots including one which the Raiders hit the pipe on.
“I think halfway through the second period we started Cornell hockey,” Hilbrich shared.
With 17:10 into the second period, Cornell capitalized on another Colgate miscue as the puck flew off the skate of a Raider in the neutral zone. Junior forward Jake Weidner sent the puck forward to Hilbrich who snagged the puck and charged for the goal, but could not hold on for a shot.
Colgate’s Finn found the puck from Hilbrich’s attempt but poked it out right to junior Matt Buckles of the Red. Buckles’ shot squeaked under the goalie for Cornell’s fifth, and third unanswered, goal. Cornell entered the third period up 5-1 and would hold onto that score for the last 20 minutes.
The final period of Friday night’s contest was relatively quiet, but saw solid possession by the Red, especially in the second half of the period. The defense locked down towards the end and kept the Raiders’ shots to a minimum. Although, Colgate did outshoot the Red 24 to 20 for the game.
“We controlled the game in the third period and we definitely ran them out of the building,” Hilbrich said.
Cornell did not commit nearly as many penalties as last weekend’s contest vs. Quinnipiac in which they blew a 4-1 lead, committing crucial penalties late in the game.
“The difference between last Saturday and tonight was some huge blocked shots by our penalty killers, Dan Wedman and other guys who did a great job,” Schafer said. The coach also went on to say that, “I think we learned a valuable lesson from last week. [The team] didn’t take any penalties in the third period,” Schafer said.
The Red will face the Raiders again Saturday night, but will hit the road to play in Hamilton, NY.
The last time Cornell started 4-1 was the 2009-10 season. That year, the team won the ECAC.