March 10, 2018

Stifling Defense Sends No. 2 Men’s Hockey to Lake Placid With Sweep of Quinnipiac

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This post has been updated.

Just 24 hours after a nine-goal thrashing of Quinnipiac, Cornell men’s hockey earned a much closer victory against the Bobcats to secure a two-game sweep and earn a trip to the ECAC Championship weekend in Lake Placid.

After subjecting Quinnipiac to a throttling 9-1 victory in game one, it didn’t come nearly as easily Saturday, but Cornell men’s hockey dispatched the Bobcats in two games after earning a 2-0 victory in game two.

Freshman goaltender Matt Galajda’s ninth shutout, key shot-blocking and some clutch Cornell penalty killing were the keys in a Red victory.

An overall dominant performance by the nation’s best defense did the job in securing victory in a game that at one point looked to be getting away from a squad that entered the game 18-0-0 in contests when it led after two periods.

“I just try to battle through traffic [and] see some pucks, but I owe it all to the guys,” Galajda said. “They were blocking shots everywhere tonight on the penalty kill and they did an unbelievable job.”

In the third period, the Red, clinging to a 1-0 lead, faced its greatest test of the series — and maybe the season. Junior forward Anthony Angello was assessed a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct, which carried with it an ejection. The Red killed the penalty, without its top scorer.

“Our guys gutted it out and blocked a lot of shots,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “ We know that playing Quinnipiac they’ve got a tremendous power play … [Our players] sacrificed themselves and blocked a lot of shots to keep them off the board.”

After mustering just one shot on goal in the first period, Cornell struck quickly in the second as senior forward and captain Alex Rauter buried a rebound.

“[Quinnipiac] did exactly what we thought they would do,” Schafer said. “They came out, they played hard, they played physical. They’re a very prideful team and we knew that’s what was going to happen.”

Freshman forward Kyle Betts assisted on both Cornell goals. Rauter put a rebound of Betts’ shot past Quinnipiac goaltender Keith Petruzzelli for the game’s first goal, and Vanderlaan buried one from Betts in the third.

“The second period we knew we wanted to come out a little harder, and it was huge that we got that goal,” Rauter said. “Kyle Betts made a great play coming down the wing … it was a great momentum boost for sure.”

Vanderlaan left Quinnipiac’s Nick Jermain face-down on the ice after a big hit near the Cornell blue line and was called for a game misconduct and ejected — the team’s second of the period. Cornell would be shorthanded for the remaining 3:49 of the game.

“That was probably the first time I’ve ever seen two players get kicked out with fives in the same game, it was kind of outrageous,” Rauter said. “Whenever we face adversity we kind of rise to the challenge, and the penalty killers did a great job.”

Schafer, frustrated with the three reviews of Cornell penalties in the contest, said neither Vanderlaan nor Angello had any malicious intent.

“I think [Vanderlaan has] two penalties this year,” Schafer said. “He’s skating away from him, the kid runs into him.”

The game was a hard-hitting affair from the opening whistle, and the Bobcats certainly didn’t resemble the same team that was embarrassed 24 hours prior.

“I just think [Quinnipiac] competed so much harder tonight and we didn’t have the same jump,” Schafer said. “Our games against these guys all year have been … tight games.”

The conference rivals and frequent playoff foes showcased renewed energy in the series’ second game.

“We knew it was going to be intense and competitive,” Rauter said. “As the game wore on it was pretty evident that … we came to play and we were ready to compete.”

With Princeton’s upset victory to sweep No. 2 seed Union earlier in the night, the Red will face the red-hot Tigers in the semifinal next weekend.