This post has been updated.
WORCESTER, Mass. — Cornell men’s hockey’s first and only losing streak of the season couldn’t have come at a worse time.
After its most successful regular season in over a decade, Cornell (25-6-2, 17-3-2 ECAC) experienced an early end to its postseason as the top-seeded Red lost 3-1 to fourth-seeded Boston University (22-13-4, 12-8-4 Hockey East). It is the Red’s second straight NCAA first round exit.
Cornell took a 1-0 lead in the second period of the northeast regional contest, but quickly saw its lead disappear as the Terriers, now riding an eight-game unbeaten streak, responded 36 game seconds later with a tally of their own.
“It just goes to show you that any little play … can hurt you,” said senior forward and captain Alex Rauter. “We responded well even after it was 1-1, but we just couldn’t get those bounces in front of the net.”
Head coach Mike Schafer ’86 said the first Terrier goal was the game’s turning point.
“You need a little fortune, and the fortune for B.U., that [Shane] Bowers picks it out of midair, whiffs at it and it ends up going in the back of the net, I thought that was a real momentum buzzkill,” Schafer said.
Senior forward Trevor Yates got the Red on the board 7:33 into the second with a snipe from the top of the right circle on a feed from freshman Cam Donaldson. But the lead didn’t last long, and the Terriers scored the game’s final three goals.
“It’s always fun scoring goals, it’s something I like to do,” said Yates, whose 13th goal tied junior forward Anthony Angello for the team lead. “I wish I could’ve scored another one at the end there.”
The squads entered the final period knotted up at a goal apiece, and 4:39 into the third, the Terriers sealed Cornell’s fate of another early postseason exit, a week after the Red lost to Princeton in last weekend’s ECAC semifinals. B.U.’s David Farrance sent one past freshman goaltender Matt Galajda for what was ultimately being the game-winner.
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“[Freshman center Brenden Locke] standing behind the net and the right winger takes the puck up behind the net, it’s like ‘man this is not going to end well,’” Schafer said.
Cornell outshot its longtime rival, 31-24, and kept the Terriers’ tough top line at bay.
“[B.U.] averaged like 36 shots on goal and we kept them to  tonight,” Schafer said. “We did a lot of things we wanted to do. It’s funny, the last two games we’ve played we’ve lost and statistically we’ve done a lot of things we wanted to do that usually lead to victory, but that’s the way the game is.”
Cornell’s best-in-the-nation defense knew it would face a big test in slowing down B.U.’s top line, especially center Jordan Greenway, a Minnesota Wild prospect. Many times throughout the game, the Red matched up six-foot-five center Beau Starrett, who played on a line with Angello and junior forward and co-captain Mitch Vanderlaan for much of the contest, against Greenway.
“Our job was to try to make sure he could play for the Wild next week, that was kind of our goal,” Schafer said. “You need multiple people to play him. He gets determined down low, you better get ready to come down and cheat and help because you’re just not going to handle a guy like that one-on-one. [Starrett] did a tremendous job, but at the same time we had different guys on the ice.”
In the final minutes, the Red — who now hasn’t won an NCAA tournament game since 2012 — tried to sneak one past B.U. goaltender Jake Oettinger, but Cornell’s efforts were to no avail, and B.U. sealed the game with an empty-net goal. Oettinger made 30 saves in the Terrier victory.
The Terriers advanced to Sunday afternoon’s northeast regional final, where it lost to Michigan, 6-3.
Despite being eliminated in the first round of the NCAA tournament in consecutive years, Schafer said he’s proud of his team’s season.
“I’m not disappointed at all,” Schafer said. “I couldn’t be more proud. Disappointed? 25 wins, NCAAs, I got a job for a couple more years.”