Someone who hasn’t been following college hockey nationwide this season might’ve expected a matchup between Cornell and Arizona State in Ithaca to be a lopsided affair in favor of the hosts.
No. 13 Arizona State (16-8-1) came into Lynah Rink for the first of two games Friday a few poll spots ahead of No. 17 Cornell (8-5-1, 5-2-1 ECAC), making the game pivotal in terms of potential NCAA bids down the road. But the upstate New York powerhouse did what many would expect a team of its kind to do against a team from the desert, cruising to a 6-1 blowout victory.
An impressive display from ASU goaltender Joey Daccord, the nation’s leader in shutouts, was the only reason Cornell’s lead heading into the first intermission was just 2-0. Later on, Daccord’s heroics weren’t enough to prevent him from being pulled for the first time this season. The Red outshot the Sun Devils, 26-7, in a lopsided opening 20 minutes — Cornell eventually outshot ASU, 52-25 — and got goals from sophomores Brenden Locke and Cam Donaldson late in the period.
“We did what we wanted to in a home series, came out strong in the first period,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “In the third we came out and did what we needed to do getting the third goal and it just kept coming after that.”
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The all-sophomore top line of Donaldson, Locke and Morgan Barron was buzzing early, responsible for both first-period goals. Donaldson’s seven tallies and Barron’s six are first and second on the team, respectively.
A more even though still fast-paced second period kept the Sun Devils in the game. A 5-on-3 power play opportunity for Cornell early in the second seemed to give the Red a chance to put the game away. But a too many men call on Cornell negated the advantage, and the hosts’ lead stayed at two. A number of great saves by Daccord, including a stop on Barron in alone on a breakaway, kept ASU in the game.
After the Sun Devils failed to capitalize on a Grade-A opportunity late in the second, things got ugly quickly for ASU in the third, as Cornell added four goals in the final 20 minutes to coast to a convincing win over the nation’s newest Division I program.
“The final score was 6-1 and that’s what the final score should’ve been, that’s how badly they outplayed us,” said ASU head coach Greg Powers.
Senior forward Beau Starrett’s first of two goals came 4:23 in, via a beautiful pass from senior captain Mitch Vanderlaan. Vanderlaan extended his team lead in assists to 11.
ASU’s Johnny Walker, the nation’s leading scorer, shrunk the Red’s lead back to two soon thereafter, spoiling sophomore goaltender Austin McGrath’s shutout bid. McGrath, making his fifth straight start, made 24 saves to improve it 3-1-1 as a starter. Reigning All-American Matt Galajda, back from an injury that has kept him out since Nov. 24, dressed for the game, but McGrath, the hot hand between the pipes, earned the start.
Near the halfway point of the third, sophomore forward Connor Murphy, into the lineup for an injured Jeff Malott, buried a rebound to regain the three-goal lead. The goal was Murphy’s second career tally and his first since Nov. 11, 2016.
Less than three minutes later, Starrett’s second of the night brought his total up to five on the season and led ASU to pull Daccord.
A turnover in the ASU zone — an ill-advised play by a freshman goaltender in for Daccord who hadn’t played all year — gave Vanderlaan an easy tap-in to make it 6-1.
Looking for another tournament resumé-boosting win, Cornell takes on Arizona State again at 7 p.m. Saturday.
“We talked about treating this like a playoff series,” Schafer said. “We want to be ready to play tomorrow night.”