On Friday night, Cornell men’s hockey took to the ice not just to play but also to clean. Partway through the second period, they cleared the bench, spread out in a line across the rink and scraped at the surface with their skates until it was spotless.
Sophomore defenseman Cody Haiskanen had just skated off in a hurry, clutching his hand. In his wake was a trail of blood, starting from behind Cornell’s own goal and extending all the way to the bench. He then made his exit in an ambulance down Route 34 to a hospital in Sayre, Pennsylvania.
At the 10:45 mark of the second period, Haiskanen and Clarkson forward Chris Klack were racing to the right Cornell hash marks to win an icing call in their team’s favor. As the whistle was being blown, a skate sliced part of Haiskanen’s right arm.
Here’s a look at the play in the second period during which sophomore Cody Haiskanen was injured: pic.twitter.com/64jUOBZhAn
— Raphy Gendler (@raphy_gendler) February 9, 2019
The referees seemed to be in a rush to get the game going again, so they attempted to start playing with the rink still spattered with blood.
“That was crazy, the referees wanted to start the game,” head coach Mike Schafer ’86 said after his team’s 5-0 win over Clarkson. “There was still blood from inside the blue line all the way to our bench.”
All at once, every Cornell skater stood up, got back on the ice and chipped away at the dirtied parts using the blades on their skates. The cleaning crew came through with a broom and shovel, the ice was white again and play finally resumed.
“I didn’t understand what they were doing,” Schafer said. “So I was just like, ‘you know what, we’ll scrape it.’”
“The rink guys weren’t doing the job, so we needed more guys out there,” added sophomore goaltender Matt Galajda.
Cornell skaters empty the bench to try and clear the blood trail left by Haiskanen with their skates. Wasn’t a pretty sight here at Lynah. pic.twitter.com/qWoEdSrWhQ
— Zachary Silver (@zachsilver) February 9, 2019
After the confusing episode had finally settled, reality set in.
Haiskanen’s laceration, which Schafer says will keep the defenseman out “a while,” only adds to the list of injuries that won’t stop coming this season. The Red’s defense just got healthy again, with sophomore Alex Green returning to play last weekend after missing three months of game time only for a banged up senior Brendan Smith to then miss consecutive games.
Haiskanen’s abrupt exit drew immediate comparisons to Green’s in November. Though the injuries themselves are not similar — Green suffered a concussion — the reaction in Lynah on Friday felt the same as it did three months ago in that Nov. 3 game against Yale, during which Green was stretchered off following a collision in front of Yale’s bench.
“Any time you see a guy … and they rush him off the ice, it’s pretty scary,” said junior forward Jeff Malott. “But he’s in good hands [now].”
As for the Haiskanen play itself, Schafer said it was a culmination of a faulty rule alongside ill-advised refereeing amid an unfortunate sequence.
“I’ve never liked the icing rule — when two guys are racing for the puck, there’s supposed to be zero contact on both sides,” Schafer said. “To me, the whistle should be blown way before that, if it’s either no icing or icing. … They blew it really late — that’s what you get when you get those high-speed races for pucks.
“It’s just unfortunate,” Schafer added. “I don’t think their kid was malicious in any way, shape or form. There just should be no contact whatsoever.”
The issue Schafer and many who saw the injury take with the incident is with how the play was called. Because the referees took so long to make the call, the two players were forced to fight for the puck until the whistle was blown. In theory, the whistle should have been blown by the time the puck reached the dots in front of the goal. But because the referees were delayed in making the call, the skaters had to continue to battle.
“I just saw Cody on the ground [and] didn’t think anything happened,” said Galajda, who was just feet away from the incident in his net. “But when he got up and took his glove off, it didn’t look too good. It definitely didn’t look good when he skated off the ice.”
After Haiskanen went down, Cornell went on to score two more goals and secure the 5-0 victory over Clarkson.
“Everyone can kind of rally together off of that,” Malott said. “We obviously never want anything like that to happen on the ice.”
And rally the team did. Even with the slew of players scratched from the lineup over the course of the season, the Red has improved steadily since its bumpy start and is back in the top 10 in the national rankings.
With three weekends left before the playoffs commence, Cornell skaters will need to fight forward without Haiskanen and freshman forward Max Andreev both now out with long-term injuries.
But, if the team’s quick thinking and ice cleaning provide any indication, they’re up to the task of moving forward and looking out for one another.
“That sums up Cornell hockey: if there’s a job to do, just do it yourself,” Malott said.