Freshman goaltender Matt Galajda and the stifling Cornell defense in front of him stole the show again Saturday to complete a sweep of Colgate.
Galajda made 23 saves for his second consecutive shutout. It’s the first time a Cornell goaltender has recorded back-to-back shutouts since Mitch Gillam ’17 blanked Yale and Brown in November 2015.
With the victory and Dartmouth’s win at Clarkson, the Red (16-2-1, 10-1-1 ECAC) moves into a tie with the Golden Knights atop the ECAC standings with 21 points. Clarkson handed Cornell its only conference loss so far this season.
Freshman forwards Cam Donaldson and Kyle Betts scored for the Red, who now have 15 goals from the class — three defensemen and five forwards.
The Cornell defense made things difficult for the Raiders (10-10-4, 6-5-1) all game long, stymying a few early scoring chances with key blocks.
“[Galajda is] a good goaltender and they’re committed to blocking shots [and making it] tough to get pucks through to the net and create tips and deflections,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86.
Galajda, who stopped all 47 Colgate shots in the weekend sweep, made perhaps his biggest save of the series 7:08 into the second, steering away a breakaway opportunity by Colgate’s Mike Panowyk with his skate to preserve a 0-0 tie.
“I had no clue what he was going to do,” Galajda said. “I saw he had the puck out in front of him in a shooting position so I thought maybe he was going to shoot it and he did.”
Galajda, third in the ECAC in save percentage, picked up his fifth shutout of the season, tying the Cornell rookie record.
Late in the second period, the Cornell offense broke through when Donaldson capitalized on a turnover at Colgate’s blue line and converted on a breakaway. Betts doubled the lead on a wraparound midway through the third.
As the season’s intensity ramps up, the Red’s defensive effort has led the way. Cornell allows 1.52 goals per game, fewest in the ECAC.
“Guys are buckling down, they’re making smarter plays, they’re getting the puck out of the zone,” Galajda said. “They’re not trying to be too fancy, so we’re doing a good job just getting pucks deep.”
Cornell hits the road next weekend for a pair of Ivy League matchups at Harvard and Dartmouth.