Cornell men’s hockey survived a Yale comeback bid to fight its way into the win column on Friday after last weekend’s disappointing two-game set against Michigan State.
The Red (1-2, 1-0 ECAC) was energetic from the very start of its conference play debut, opening up a three-goal lead early in the second period against Yale (1-1, 1-1) and later avoiding a Bulldog comeback to hang on for a 4-2 victory.
“We want to build as big a lead as possible as early as possible and we did a pretty good job holding it tonight,” said sophomore forward Morgan Barron.
Neither team seemed particularly dominant at the onset, but Cornell jumped ahead to a 1-0 lead on a power play seven minutes in, as sophomore forward Cam Donaldson tipped home a pass from classmate defenseman Alex Green. From that point onward, Cornell never trailed. The Red outshot Yale, 9-2, in the first period.
Sophomore goaltender Matt Galajda, pulled from consecutive losses to Michigan State last weekend, showed vast improvement, making 16 saves. Perhaps no save was more significant than his stopping of Yale star forward Joe Snively on a breakaway early in the first.
“The big breakaway save against Snively a few minutes into the game, that was huge for us,” Barron said.
Green’s night came to an end shortly after he picked up the power-play assist, as he was hit hard in the neutral zone 10 minutes into the opening period and was carried off the ice in a gurney.
“The guys were feeling for [Green], but they did bounce back,” associate head coach Ben Syer.
Syer coached Friday due to a death in Mike Schafer’s ’86 family.
Green’s injury, however, is less severe than it initially appeared — he was seen watching the game alongside other teammates not in the lineup during the second and third periods.
“All I can say is that it’s much better than what it looked,” Syer said of Green’s injury.
Three minutes later, junior Yanni Kaldis, who had been at his defensive partner’s side throughout the injury delay, scored an unassisted goal on a wrist shot that found its way over Yale goalie Corbin Kaczperski’s glove to give the Red a two-goal lead.
“Honestly, it kind of affected me the first couple shifts and it was nice to get that goal and kind of snap out of it,” Kaldis said of Green’s injury.
In the second period, the Red picked up where it left off and Barron, assisted by Kaldis and sophomore Tristan Mullin, scored less than two minutes in.
Dante Palecco scored the first of two Yale power-play goals halfway through the second period.
In the third, after Cornell impressively killed a five-on-three that lasted roughly a minute, Snively tipped in a goal past Galajda to pull the Bulldogs within one with just seconds left of the remaining standard five-on-four power play.
Despite Snively’s power-play goal, Cornell was mostly able to contain the Bulldogs’ primary offensive weapon. Sophomore forward Kyle Betts centered a line with juniors Noah Bauld and Jeff Malott that matched up with Snively’s line for much of the contest.
“Snively is their star player,” Syer said. “We knew about him; he’s scouted. Their team works around him.”
The game was punctuated by a few missed opportunities on Cornell’s part — even while the Red ultimately scored four goals, there were myriad times when Cornell didn’t capitalize on scoring chances. The Red finished the game with 29 shots on goal. Especially in the second period, the Red spent extended periods of time around the Bulldogs’ goal with its passing capabilities on full display, but the puck often failed to find its way into the net.
The Bulldogs somewhat outplayed the Red in the third period, but Cornell managed to hang on for the win.
“In the third, they really started to push and get some good looks,” Syer said. “We got away from things a little bit.”
Trailing by a goal, Yale came close to tying the game with an extra attacker. But their hopes were destroyed when Barron scored on the Bulldogs’ empty net with less than a minute left to seal the victory.
Cornell hosts Brown at 7 p.m. Saturday.