It was a long journey to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for Cornell men’s hockey, but the roughly 800 mile long trip appears to have been well worth it, as the Red prevailed over Northern Michigan, 3-2, to emerge victorious for the second night in a row.
“It’s a long trip,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “Not an easy place to get to. For us, it’s good to get two wins, get home and get some rest.”
All three goals for Cornell (4-2, 2-0 ECAC) came on the power play — a unit that had been struggling to start the season but found success on Saturday, going 3-for-7. Freshman forward Michael Regush scored his third goal in as many games and has quickly emerged as one of the Red’s standout first-year players. Regush’s man-up tally 11:13 into the third ultimately proved to be the game-winner.
“[Regush’s goal] was a great finish. It was a great line rush, great play by Mitch Vanderlaan at the blue line on the power play,” Schafer said. “When [Regush] gets his chances, he buries them.”
The Red’s other two power play goals came courtesy of senior defenseman Alec McCrea and sophomore forward Morgan Barron, both in the first period. McCrea’s tally 5:16 into the first period — his first of the season after scoring five goals last year, all on the power play — opened the scoring in what would be a true special teams showdown. The Wildcats scored both of their goals on the power play as well.
“We were 3-for-7 … I’ll take that every night,” Schafer said. “It was definitely a special teams game the whole night tonight, that’s for sure.”
Barron’s goal was good for his team-leading fourth of the season and came 12 seconds into a 5-on-3 opportunity for Cornell.
In his team’s fourth consecutive victory, sophomore goaltender Matt Galajda made 24 saves to backstop his team to victory. The reigning first-team All American’s performance was desperately needed, as two of the Red’s top four defensemen, sophomore Alex Green and senior Brendan Smith, were out with injuries.
“We had a really short bench, not having Alex Green, not having Brendan Smith,” Schafer said. “That made it much more difficult.”
On offense, the Red lost junior forward Jeff Malott and sophomore forward Brenden Locke to injuries during the game. Schafer said Malott is unlikely to play next week.
As it tries to get healthy, Cornell will take its four-game winning streak back to East Hill, where it awaits a pair of ECAC playoff rematches next weekend against Quinnipiac and Princeton at Lynah.