Cornell celebrates freshman forward Michael Regush's game-winning goal in the third period.

Boris Tsang / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Cornell celebrates freshman forward Michael Regush's game-winning goal in the third period.

January 25, 2019

No. 12/11 Men’s Hockey Squeaks By Colgate to Extend Unbeaten Streak to 8 Games

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This post has been updated.

HAMILTON, N.Y. — For as topsy-turvy a season it has been for Cornell men’s hockey, one tune has remained constant: a strong opening 20 minutes continues to be followed by a lackluster final 40 by comparison.

In the opening period this season, Cornell has outscored its opponents 20-5 for a plus-15 margin. But in the 40 minutes that have followed, that margin is zero at 34-34.

The consistently unbalanced play looked like it might end Cornell’s seven-game unbeaten streak Friday night before freshman forward Mike Regush broke an 11-game scoreless drought in the third period to salvage No. 12/11 Cornell a 3-2 win over Colgate.

“Obviously we want to get off to a quick start,” head coach Mike Schafer ’86 said of the uneven play throughout games. “We had some opportunities, but [Colgate] just kept battling, and we made some major mistakes in our defensive zone and they capitalized on them.”

Captain Mitch Vanderlaan's first-period goal gave the Red an early lead in a 3-2 win over Colgate.

Boris Tsang / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Captain Mitch Vanderlaan’s first-period goal gave the Red an early lead in a 3-2 win over Colgate.

The win secured a Friday sweep of the Raiders after the Cornell women’s team came out victorious, 4-2, in Hamilton earlier in the afternoon. And while it also moves Cornell to sole possession of first place in the ECAC as No. 6 Quinnipiac sits idle this weekend, Schafer was displeased with the play he saw — “inconsistent, lack of focus, lack of details,” as he called it — from his once-again injury-riddled lineup.

“Pretty disappointed in what’s going on right now with our group of guys,” said Schafer, who saw forwards Jeff Malott and Tristan Mullin return but lost Noah Bauld with an injury. “We need a lot better effort than that tomorrow night and we need to come ready to play a lot harder and a lot more detailed.”

While Colgate only solved Cornell sophomore goalie Matt Galajda twice, both goals came from the Raiders’ top line in a span of 21 minutes between the second and third periods — first from Bobby McMann and second from Josh McKechney, pieces of what Schafer called “one of the best lines offensively” he’s seen.

“We didn’t respect them,” Schafer said. “We got below them; we gave up 3-on-2s; we gave up opportunities; we didn’t take care of it coming out of the corners and turned pucks over against them trying to make plays, and they killed us.”

The all-sophomore top line of Morgan Barron, Brenden Locke and Cam Donaldson was held scoreless in Cornell's win.

Boris Tsang / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

The all-sophomore top line of Morgan Barron, Brenden Locke and Cam Donaldson was held scoreless in Cornell’s win.

But it was a beautiful tic-tac-toe sequence in a game full of turnovers that rescued Cornell’s hot streak.

Malott — back from a five-game absence due to injury — started a crisp passing sequence, feeding sophomore forward Brenden Locke, who found Regush alone in front of the net. The rookie didn’t miss, burying his first goal since Nov. 10 and his fourth of the season.

“Feel like it’s trying to do the right things and sticking with it,” Regush said of rediscovering the scoresheet after hitting the post on an open net in the second period.

Before that, just 1:11 into the contest was all senior forward and captain Mitch Vanderlaan needed to open Friday’s scoring. On a drive into the offensive zone, Vanderlaan tucked a weak shot just inside the pad of Colgate’s Mitch Benson, and a trickling puck lit the lamp for Cornell.

Mullin — who played after wearing what looked to be a walking boot on his left foot before the game — joined the scoring fun almost exactly 12 minutes later. On a drive toward the net, Mullin received a pass from classmate Kyle Betts under duress and sent his third goal of the season past Benson’s blocker.

Galajda, still in the midst of a goalie battle with classmate Austin McGrath, made 18 saves in the contest. Eight came in the third period alone while his team sent just two shots Benson’s way.

“With a guy like Galajda in net, he’s going to give you a chance to win every game even if you don’t play your best down the stretch,” Regush said. “We don’t want to leave it to chance, but even when we don’t play our best we have a chance.”

Jeff Malott helped create freshman Michael Regush's game-winning goal at the tail end of a third-period power play.

Boris Tsang / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Jeff Malott helped create freshman Michael Regush’s game-winning goal at the tail end of a third-period power play.

Although Schafer said before the weekend that he would split the series in net against Colgate, with McGrath and Galajda perhaps each getting a start, he was non-committal about who would get the start in Saturday’s rematch. Additionally, Bauld — who was injured in last Saturday’s win over Dartmouth — and all the remaining injured Cornellians will not be available for Saturday, Schafer said.

Regardless, the head coach’s concerns lie more with the skaters currently playing in front of the blue crease.

“Going into the game we judge ourselves on how we play,” Schafer said. “It’s not about wins and losses.”

Cornell now faces a turnaround against the same opponent when it welcomes Colgate to Lynah Rink at 7 p.m. Saturday.