After scoring three second-period goals to dispatch Brown last weekend, No. 17 Cornell men’s hockey used two middle-frame tallies just 1:15 apart to put away Northern Michigan and emerge victorious in its first road matchup of the season.
“Tonight was the first night I didn’t feel like we had any letdowns for 60 minutes,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “I thought we kept it going throughout the course of the night.”
The Red (3-2, 2-0 ECAC) will look to complete a sweep of the Wildcats (3-6, 2-2 WCHA) and earn its second nonconference win when the teams meet again Saturday night.
Cornell took an early lead in an eventual 3-1 win thanks to the continuation of sophomore forward Cam Donaldson’s hot start to the season. Donaldson took a feed from senior forward and captain Mitch Vanderlaan and put his third goal of the season past Northern Michigan goaltender Atte Tolvanen just 3:13 into the contest.
“[Donaldson has] just been playing faster,” Schafer said of Donaldson, who was able to utilize his speed on the Wildcats’ Olympic size ice sheet, which is bigger than traditional college rinks. “He’s really added that to his game this year. It was great to see him get the first one, [and] he made a great pass on the third goal to [senior forward Beau Starrett].”
The Wildcats tied the game at one in the final two minutes of the opening period, and the score remained tied until 13:30 into the second period, when a power-play goal from freshman forward Michael Regush in the form of a tip-in shot on net by Vanderlaan broke the tie and was the eventual game-winner. Starrett’s first tally of the season extended the Cornell lead to 3-1 just 1:15 later.
“I thought we played with good speed throughout the course of the night,” Schafer said. “I thought our forwards were absolutely relentless as far as their pressure on the puck in the offensive zone and the back side pressure back in our own zone was really good to see.”
Regush’s goal was his second of the season, and both have come via primary assists from Vanderlaan — the captain’s two helpers in the contest extended his team lead in apples to six.
“We just had good pressure through the second period and had some good opportunities and [NMU] took some penalties,” Schafer said. “The first couple power plays we didn’t do the job; we came out with a third one and [Vanderlaan] made a great play to [Regush] for a tip.”
A minute-long Wildcat 5-on-3 opportunity late in the second presented the hosts a chance to climb back into the contest. But what Schafer called a “tremendous” penalty kill preserved the Red’s two-goal lead. The Cornell penalty kill was a perfect 3-for-3 on the evening after some struggles last week against Yale and Brown.
Sophomore goaltender Matt Galajda allowed just one NMU goal and needed to make just 12 saves to pick up his third straight win after being pulled in the first two games of the season.
The Red will go for the road sweep as the teams play again at 7 p.m. Saturday.