Reigning ECAC player of the month Morgan Barron wasted no time in defending his selection. The sophomore forward scored twice and led Cornell men’s hockey to a 4-0 victory over Union on Friday in Schenectady.
The win earned Cornell (13-6-1, 9-3-1 ECAC) two conference points on a night when Yale, the Red’s partner atop the ECAC standings, didn’t play. The Red now stands alone in first place for the time being with 19 points. Barron’s classmate and linemate Cam Donaldson had three assists on the night — the first time this season that a Cornell player has had three points in one game.
“That whole line, Morgan, Cam and Brenden [Locke] … we put them together and they’ve kind of just taken off together,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “They’re classmates, and they know each other pretty well, and magically they’ve hit it off.”
The Red jumped out to an early and commanding lead over the Dutchemen (12-8-5, 5-7-1), scoring three times in the opening period. First, a nice play from junior forward Jeff Malott led to a goal from freshman forward Michael Regush. Barron capitalized next thanks in part to a solid assist from Donaldson before sophomore defenseman Cody Haiskanen’s one-timer — his first goal of the season — lit the lamp a few minutes later. Barron’s second of the game came on a power play in the second and rounded out the Red’s scoring.
“[After getting an early lead,] we talked about coming out and just trying to win the second period,” Schafer said. “And in the third period, we started playing some of the other guys who hadn’t played a lot … but overall, even in the third period, I thought we didn’t give up many scoring chances.”
All of Cornell’s offense notwithstanding, the story of the game was the defense, which benefited from the return of sophomore Alex Green after he missed nearly three months. It was only the second time this season that the Red had all six of its starting defensemen ready to go for puck drop.
“Getting Alex Green back … allowed us for the first time in a long time to roll six defesnemen,” Schafer said. “[The system] just had some flow to it.”
The health of the blueline unit showed — Cornell was a perfect five-for-five on the penalty kill after Union’s power play gave Cornell fits last season.
“Our penalty kill did a great job,” Schafer said. “Twenty two blocked shots, that’s kind of a recipe for our team … [Union is] such a good team at getting pucks to the net.”
Sophomore goaltender Matt Galajda earned the start in net and earned his second shutout of the season. Galajda got the nod after serving as his classmate Austin McGrath’s replacement last weekend after McGrath had a rocky start against Colgate at Lynah Rink.
“[Galajda] in his last three games has got two shutouts and a win at Colgate,” Schafer said. “Whether we continue with the rotation, we’ll see, but he’s kind of getting back into the groove a little bit.”
Although Cornell has some breathing room in first place at this juncture, Yale plays in conference tomorrow. The Red will travel a few minutes down the road to Rensselaer in an effort to maintain its razor-thin lead. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. in Troy.