Brittney Chew / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Cornell falls in the finals of the Florida Classic for the second-straight year.

December 29, 2016

Colorado College Upsets Men’s Hockey in Overtime of Florida Classic Finals

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For an intensive, play-by-play summary of the loss against Colorado College, click here.

For the second-straight year, Cornell men’s hockey entered the championship game in pursuit of the Harkness Cup as the objectively better team. For the second-straight year, the Red entered the finals fresh off an impressive win in the preliminary round. And for the second-straight year, the hosts of the Florida College Hockey Classic were upset by a team with far lower expectations.

Last year, it was an unranked Ohio State which marched into Florida and defeated a No. 4 Boston College squad, then lit Cornell up for an 8-0 finish in the finals. Though a closer game in 2016, the same result nonetheless and déjà vu for a Cornell team who loses in overtime fashion, 2-1, to Colorado College to snap a six-game winning streak.

Whereas yesterday’s game against Northern Michigan was a barnburner filled with goals at every turn, the first period against Colorado was anything but. Both teams traded power plays and offensive pressure, but neither was able to create noteworthy scoring chances.

Cornell had the chance to end the scoreless drought early in the second period, when junior forward Alex Rauter drew a hooking call just 19 seconds into the period. Sophomore forward Anthony Angello floated into the neutral zone with the puck when it drifted off his stick and right to Colorado’s Luc Gerdes.

With no men between him and Cornell junior netminder Hayden Stewart — who earned the start to break senior Mitch Gillam’s 45 game starting streak — Gerdes capitalized on the Angello fumble, sending the puck under Stewart’s pad to put Colorado up first.

All four of the Tigers’ four wins on the season have come when the team scores first, yet Cornell entered the game with a 5-3 record when trailing first. In the end, it was the former statistic that would prove to be the more impactful.

As the third period opened play, Cornell had its fifth power play on the night. Clean, crisp passing from senior defenseman Patrick McCarron to Angello kept the Tigers penalty killers moving. Then Angello found a well-prepared senior forward Jake Weidner in the slot, who sent the one-timer past Colorado’s freshman goalie Alex LeClerc. It was McCarron’s fourth assist of the tournament and and team-leading 14th point on the year.

LeClerc — former teammate with Cornell freshman forward Noah Bauld — was the most impactful Tiger on the ice, as the freshman stopped 22 of the 23 shots he faced on the night, shutting the door on five of six Cornell power plays. LeClerc went on to be named the most valuable player of the tournament.

Cornell began overtime on the penalty-kill after a cross-check penalty by Rauter late in the third period. But it was the first even-strength goal of the game that toppled Cornell. Colorado’s Nick Halloran drove into the Cornell zone and sent a shot high past the shoulder of Stewart.

Halloran’s teammates clobbered him in celebratory cheers in the Cornell corner, and the Red remained on the ice to collect the runner-up trophy — all too reminiscent of what happened just 365 days prior. Though not a David and Goliath story, the Tigers upset one of the hottest teams in the nation.