This post has been updated.
A night after a crazy bounce handed Cornell men’s hockey a tough loss on its home ice, the Red finished the weekend strong on Saturday, shutting down some of the ECAC’s best offensive players and scoring five goals against Princeton.
“The game was similar to last night, but I thought we finished it tonight,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “I was kind of concerned coming back tonight that we’d feel sorry for ourselves, but we didn’t. We came out right away.”
After surrendering a lead twice in a tough loss to Quinnipiac on Friday, No. 17 Cornell men’s hockey never trailed on Saturday in a 5-1 victory over No. 15/13 Princeton. The Red (5-3, 3-1 ECAC) scored twice in the first period and added three goals in the second half of the third to run away from the Tigers (3-3-1, 3-2-1 ECAC). Five goals is the most the Red has recorded in a game this season.
Like in Friday’s 3-2 loss to the No. 14 Bobcats, the Red wasted no time getting on the scoreboard against the Tigers. At just 1:47 in, sophomore forward Cam Donaldson laid a big hit on a Princeton skater in the Red’s offensive zone, getting the puck to senior defenseman Matt Nuttle. Senior forward and captain Mitch Vanderlaan buried a rebound of Nuttle’s shot for his first goal of the season, giving his team a 1-0 lead.
Near the midway point of the opening frame, senior forward Beau Starrett doubled the Cornell lead, skillfully redirecting a long shot by sophomore defenseman Cody Haiskanen past Princeton goaltender Ryan Ferland.
“It was definitely a big bounce back from last night with [Quinnipiac] coming into our rink and stealing a win from us, but I thought we responded well in the third period,” Starrett said. “We haven’t been too hot in the third period this year as far as goals for/goals against go, but it was definitely good to pot five as a team and for me personally to find the back of the net.”
The two-goal Cornell lead didn’t last long in the second period. Less than a minute into the frame, sophomore forward Kyle Betts was called for hooking, bringing out the Tigers’ best power play in the nation for the second time. An interference penalty on Princeton just 10 seconds later negated the man-advantage, but the open ice created by 4-on-4 play was enough for Princeton defenseman Josh Teves to cut the Red’s lead in half.
Defensively, Cornell kept the Tigers’ high-flying top line at bay and held Princeton’s dangerous power play to 0-for-3. Cornell’s power play was 0-for-5.
After coming up empty on another power play opportunity, including a stint of 4-on-3 play, early in the period, Cornell was in need of some breathing room, leading by just a goal. Sophomore forward Tristan Mullin doubled his team’s lead with eight minutes left in the contest, sniping home his first goal of the season from the left circle past Ferland.
“[The third goal] was huge,” Schafer said. “Finally get some breathing room on the bench. … It’s a total difference, being able to relax a little bit.”
Schafer said Vanderlaan and Mullin both tallying their first goals of the season can help with their confidence going forward.
“When they finally get that one it feels like there’s some relief, and they can then just kind of settle down,” Schafer said. “When you score that goal, it gives you a sense of relief, and they can kind of relax a little more.”
Donaldson took just over two minutes to increase his team’s cushion to three, scoring his fourth goal of the season 2:04 after Mullin’s tally.
“We’ve had a lot of chances this season when we’re up [and we’ve talked about] not changing the way we play,” Mullin said of his team’s three-goal third-period.
Cornell earned a home split with top-20 ECAC rivals despite being without four key players. The absence of two defensemen — sophomore Alex Green and senior Brendan Smith — meant additional ice time for senior Alec McCrea, junior Yanni Kaldis, senior Matt Nuttle and sophomore Cody Haiskanen. And missing sophomore Brenden Locke and junior Jeff Malott at forward led to jumbled lines and new roles for freshmen.
“All the guys that don’t play a whole lot, I thought they stepped up and did a real good job,” Schafer said.
Freshman Max Andreev’s empty-net goal late made it 5-1. Sophomore goaltender Matt Galajda made 19 saves in the win.
“I thought Matt made some huge saves for us when we needed him tonight,” Schafer said. “I said to our guys that’s the kind of hockey we’re used to playing.”
Next on the docket for Cornell is a date with archrival Harvard in the “Frozen Apple” at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 24.