True fans of the game of hockey were in for a treat on Friday night, as the fourth ranked Cornell men’s hockey team traveled to New Haven and came away with a 3-3 tie. In the end, the thrilling, back-and-forth affair against Yale was decided by a hapless bounce.
After falling into a hole, Cornell (11-2-1, 4-1-1 ECAC) appeared to finally be in the driver’s seat late in the contest, leading 3-2 and forcing Yale (7-8-1, 4-6-1) to pull its goaltender.
But Bulldog captain Ryan Hitchcock scored with less than a minute to play and swung the game’s momentum one final time. Yale’s Joe Snively whiffed on a shot, which trickled right to Hitchcock who tied the game at the 19:10 mark of the third.
“The game [tying] goal was frustrating. Our guys were there to block the shot and the kid shanks it,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “It lands right on the guy’s stick that’s wide open on the back door. That’s the beautiful part of the game of hockey.”
Despite an evenly played first two periods, an aggressive Bulldog lineup and some highlight-reel saves by Yale goaltender Sam Tucker led to a deficit for Cornell.
The Red trailed 2-0 late in the second period before three unanswered tallies — two by defensemen — gave the team its first and only lead. Freshman defenseman Alex Green’s goal midway through the third gave the Red a 3-2 advantage.
“I thought Tucker was the difference in the game [with] the saves he made in the second period in a 1-0 game,” Schafer said.
Trailing by a pair of goals with 34 seconds to play in the middle frame, junior defenseman Brendan Smith buried a rebound off a shot from classmate and fellow blueliner Matt Nuttle, giving the Red some momentum heading into the intermission.
It didn’t take long for that momentum to carry into the third, as senior forward and captain Alex Rauter sniped his sixth goal of the season just 1:09 into the third period to tie the game at two.
“I was happy with our guys, who stuck with the process tonight as far as being down 2-0, getting the goal with 33 seconds [left in the second] and get two in the third to go up 3-2,” Schafer said.
Freshman goaltender Matt Galajda had a big test midway through the third, as Yale’s Dante Palecco was awarded a penalty shot attempt after being taken down on a breakaway opportunity. Lucky for the rookie netminder, Palecco’s shot rattled off the post to his right.
Overall, it was an up-and-down night for Galajda, who likely wants the first Bulldog goal back.
“That’s what you don’t want to happen on the road, when you’ve had two, three, four good scoring chances and they score on a squeaker,” Schafer said of the five-hole goal.
Green scored the go-ahead goal for Cornell 10:46 into the third, collecting a loose puck, skating to the left circle and sending a backhanded shot past Tucker.
After a thrilling 60 minutes, the five-minute overtime period — the first of the season for both teams — saw no prime scoring chances. The Red had zero shots on goal in the extra frame while Yale mustered just one.
Tucker, lights-out for much of the contest, made 34 saves and turned aside a series of Cornell chances early in the second period. Galajda, making his second consecutive start, made 26 saves.
Cornell’s road trip continues tonight with a 7pm faceoff at Brown.