November 29, 2015

Cornell Men’s Hockey Culture Shines in 3-3 Tie Against Boston University at Madison Square Garden

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NEW YORK — Sophomore defenseman Dan Wedman curled up as his knee touched the ice. Wedman anticipated the puck to zip towards the net as the No. 11 Boston University hockey team set up the power play and when the puck flew off the stick towards the goal, Wedman took it to his thigh, deadening the play and the momentum of B.U. He then took one stride and limped slightly, but his blocked shot — the standout play for the No. 15 Cornell men’s hockey team during a penalty kill in overtime — kept the score tied 3-3 and helped the Red prevent the Terriers from putting together a sequence for the game-winning goal.

Throughout the season, head coach Mike Schafer ’86 has harped on his men to sacrifice for the team, off the ice and on it, in order to reestablish the culture that made Cornell hockey a program that transported the Lynah faithful 224 miles across the state to Madison Square Garden for the biannual Red Hot Hockey event. And with six forwards out due to injury, Schafer needed the sacrifice from many in the tie.

“That’s the way that guys have stepped up this year,” Schafer said.

That sacrifice similarly manifested itself Saturday night in New York City with junior defenseman turned forward Holden Anderson. Anderson came up big in the third period, redirecting a shot from junior defenseman Patrick McCarron and slipping the puck through the legs of Terriers goalie Connor LaCouvee. This put the Red up 3-2 at the time and served as a response to two unanswered goals from the Terriers.

“[Anderson] is playing a position that he’s never played before, scoring a goal and doing a great job with it,” Schafer said. “I think that speaks a lot about our players.”

The first period was uneventful and both teams struggled to put together much offensive rhythm. The Terriers outshot the Red by a 10-9 tally and most of the shots for Cornell came from the line of Hilbrich-Weidner-Buckles, who combined for a third of the Red’s scoring attempts on net. Schafer said his team succeeded in establishing the tempo and physicality of the game from the get-go.

“We had some great scoring chances and we kept scoring chances away,” Schafer said. “We did exactly what we wanted in the first period and we established the physicality of the game. The quick starts — it’s always a quick start and every team wants to score the first two goals. We’d love to score three goals in the first three minutes every game, but you’ve got take what’s given.”

Angello continued his strong freshman campaign with a tip-in goal off of a shot from the point by junior defenseman Patrick McCarron. The goal marked Angello’s team-leading fifth goal of the season for Cornell. Sophomore center Trevor Yates tallied the second Cornell goal of the night on a rebound off of a Teemu Tiitinen wraparound shot on Terriers goalie Connor LaCouvee. The Terriers, however, dominated the period after the goals, with Gillam’s strong performance in net carrying Cornell through to the whistle at the end of the second.

B.U. began to mount a comeback five minutes into the third period after Terrier freshman center Bobo Carpenter lit the lamp following a beautiful passing sequence from A.J. Greer and Nikolas Olsson.

The goal ended Gillam’s shutout streak at 213 minutes and 17 seconds, the third-longest streak in Cornell history. Greer tied the game with a goal of his own, beating Gillam top shelf from the left circle eight minutes into the third period.

“[In] the third period, there are some things we wanted to get back, but the team responded great in the third period giving up a two-goal lead,” Schafer said. “Holden scored a great goal to make it 3-2 and then we don’t hold it.”

While the Kelley-Harkness trophy won’t return to Ithaca this year, decided by a shootout post-overtime that did not affect the result of the game, Schafer and his team walked out of one of the world’s most famous arenas satisfied with what the Red head coach deemed a “good night for college hockey.”

But for the Red, the blocked shots from Wedman and the surprising offensive contribution from Anderson represented what Schafer has talked about all season long: returning to the roots of Cornell hockey.

“We have a very tight team and a strong bond between the group,” Anderson said. “If guys are injured or we’re a little bit thin up front because of that, I have no problem stepping in just like anyone else would had.”