This post has been updated.
Quinnipiac defenseman Chase Priskie received the puck off a faceoff win with under 10 minutes to play in the third period. Now tied at two, the Bobcats had already surmounted a pair of one-goal deficits up to the midway point of the third period. On a dump-in attempt just inside center ice, Priskie was merely looking to get the puck deep and let his forwards secure a lead.
But Priskie didn’t need his forwards. The blueliner’s forceful send-in took a weird carom off the glass behind Cornell sophomore goalie Matt Galajda. Then it hit Galajda. Then it went in.
“I told Galajda after the game … I don’t ever remember a goal hitting the back of the glass and hitting our goalie and going in the back of the net,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “What are you going to do? Shot off the back of the glass hits our goalie and goes in for the game winner. It’s an unfortunate break but it’s something that we got to forget quickly.”
Priske was met on the Cornell logo at center ice by his teammates, jumping up and down in jubilation to celebrate what was the game-clinching goal in an unfortunate 4-2 defeat for Cornell men’s hockey.
An emotional loss for Cornell came in the most agonizing of ways, unaided by four of its key players out with injury and another ejected from the game after video review. The rivalry between Cornell and Quinnipiac is one recently-birthed but well documented. The Red embarrassed the Bobcats with a two-game sweep in the ECAC quarterfinals last season, with one game coming in the form of a 9-1 blowout.
A playoff series between Cornell and Quinnipiac has essentially become an annual tradition. The Bobcats added fuel to the fire by spending their summer with a copy of The Sun’s “How Sweep It Is” headline posted in their training room, according to the Quinnipiac Chronicle.
No. 17 Cornell men’s hockey hosts No. 14 Quinnipiac and No. 15 Princeton this weekend in playoff rematches of nationally-ranked teams.
Last time Quinnipiac came to Ithaca: pic.twitter.com/EUJPPWWaGv
— Raphy Gendler (@raphy_gendler) November 14, 2018
On each Bobcat goal, Quinnipiac’s skaters made sure to let their excitement known by slamming their sticks on the ice and yelling into the glass — a slap in the boisterous 3,678 faces in the Lynah stands.
“Our guys are upset. You saw the anger after the game, we got their players yelling and screaming at our guys, we got their coaches talking to our players,” Schafer said. “They’re pissed off. We’ll remember that. But we want to use that frustration and anger to be ready to get after it tomorrow.”
Priskie’s goal drew eerie memories from the Cornell bench, which was on the other side of luck in the first of four meetings between the two teams last season. In a 2-1 Cornell win, the game-winner came on a harmless shot late in the third period that bounced off the backside of then-freshman forward Morgan Barron and over the shoulder of Quinnipiac’s Andrew Shortridge.
“That’s a little bit ironic, I think,” chuckled Barron, who scored the opening goal against the Bobcats Friday night, a power-play snipe from the right circle.
An unfortunate way to drop a rivalry game, yes, but one way to make sure an unfortunate bounce isn’t the final nail in the coffin is to make it irrelevant on the scoreboard.
“There’s definitely some points in the game where we could have taken advantage,” Barron said. “But we didn’t, and it came back to bite us in the end.”
Could Barron have tallied another goal to build a Cornell lead?
“If we get another power play this year,” Schafer said about the difficulties with the comeback. “It was 1-for-7 and 1-for-2, it would’ve been nice to have another one tonight. We didn’t.”
The officiating crew called nine total penalties in the first two periods but none in the third until garbage time.
Having not trailed until Priskie’s late goal, Cornell had to try and surmount its first comeback without the help of senior defenseman Brendan Smith, sophomore defenseman Alex Green, sophomore forward Brenden Locke and junior forward Jeff Malott, who were all out with injuries. What’s more, senior forward Beau Starrett was ejected 5:31 into the second period for a five-minute major interference on Desi Burgart, leaving Cornell with just two true centers for over half the night.
“Their kid didn’t see him, our kid didn’t see him,” Schafer said of the hit. “He was backing up, our kid was kind of turning this way. … It is what it is, there wasn’t much of an explanation. I watched it on tape: it wasn’t malicious, there’s no intent. They ran into each other.”
Cornell got on the board first and quickly, however, when Barron continued his stellar start to the 2018-19 season with a power play one-timer just 2:08 into the contest.
For the remaining 18 minutes of the opening period, Cornell had to play on the less favorable side of special teams. The Red was tagged for three penalties in the opening period but was able to head into the first break unscathed even without the team’s leading shot blocker in Smith.
The Quinnipiac power play finally broke through after Starrett’s ejection. Quinnipiac’s Brogan Rafferty, who was also awarded a game misconduct for post-whistle antics but was not ejected, ripped a point shot high glove side on Galajda to tie the game up at the 6:05 mark in the second period.
“It was a big momentum swing in the game,” Schafer said of the ejection.
The Red was aided in killing Starrett’s major when Karlis Cukste was called for high sticking junior defenseman Yanni Kaldis. With no shortage of room on the ice on the ensuing four-on-four, Kaldis and his keen skating ability excelled. The junior cut inside and split the Quinnipiac quartet before ripping a high glove-side shot past Shortridge to give the Red a 2-1 lead.
After Galajda made a spectacular sprawling save in the second half of the second period to keep the game at 2-1, the Bobcats came back to tie it in the third period thanks to a goal not quite as bizarre as Priskie’s, but still unusual. Cornell got caught in a bad line change, leaving Joe O’Connor all alone to send a shot past Galajda. Priskie’s lucky-bounce goal in the third gave Quinnipiac the lead for good, and an empty-netter by Alex Whelan with 27 seconds left more than sealed the deal.
Nothing like a little love from @ESPN. @CUBigRedHockey had a #SCTop10 play last night. Although a loss, great save by sophomore goalie Matt Galajda. pic.twitter.com/pUO0tbcvGT
— Cornell Video (@CornellVideo) November 17, 2018
No matter the manner of defeat, Friday is Cornell’s first conference loss of the 2018-19 season. A defeat is a defeat. But this one stings more.
“Guys are frustrated, but we are going to take it and really use it the right way tomorrow and come out with some hop,” Barron said.
The Red is back in action tomorrow night against another ranked opponent and ECAC rival, No. 15 Princeton.