This post has been updated.
For the second straight game, an injury cast a shadow over an otherwise positive result for a Cornell men’s hockey team which has ascended to the top spot in the ECAC and a top-10 national ranking despite being plagued by injuries all season.
Moments before freshman forward Michael Regush’s power-play goal gave the Red an early lead 5:39 into its 3-1 win over St. Lawrence, sophomore forward Cam Donaldson — who has scored 11 goals this season and has been a fixture of Cornell’s hot top line since winter break — fell to the ice and exited the game clutching his left arm. He did not return to action.
“I thought [sophomore defenseman Cody Haiskanen has] been playing some of his best hockey [and] frustrating to see Cam go out tonight. He’s been playing great,” head coach Mike Schafer said a day removed from Haiskanen being rushed to the hospital with a right arm laceration. “So it’s part of the game and our guys have been pretty resilient to it this year and we’re going to have to be even more resilient [during] the stretch drive.”
With the win, Cornell opens up a three-point lead over second-place Quinnipiac in the ECAC standings with six games to play. The Red also clinches at least a share of its second consecutive Ivy League title on Saturday, as Princeton beat Yale, 4-1. But the next three weekends regular season play until what Cornell hopes is a first-round playoff bye will likely be a tough trial for the injury-depleted squad.
“It just seems like one after another guys are going to be out with injuries,” Schafer said. “We got six games left in the regular season, and guys are going to have to step up and play more minutes and play in different roles.
“We’ve seen just about everything this year can throw at us,” Schafer added.
While Schafer wasn’t sure of Donaldson’s specific prognosis, the upper-body injury is expected to keep the sophomore out at least “a couple weeks.”
A Cornell team already without freshman forward Max Andreev — out at least until the postseason with a broken collarbone — and senior defenseman Brendan Smith — day-to-day — earned four key league points this weekend, but the wins came at the cost of two everyday skaters.
Here’s a look at the sequence that appears to have left Donaldson with an injury. Goes down awkwardly in the slot, comes up holding his left arm. Still not on the Cornell bench with 8:00 to play in the 1st period. pic.twitter.com/k5pPVIPHTp
— Zachary Silver (@zachsilver) February 10, 2019
“Every team has injuries, it seems that we have a lot more this year,” said senior forward and captain Mitch Vanderlaan. “We lost Codes last night, that was a pretty scary incident, then Donny today. [We] just gotta keep working through it.”
Regush’s goal was his second in as many days, seventh of the season and his fourth on the man-advantage. He’s the first Cornell rookie to record four or more power-play goals in a season since current Columbus Blue Jackets forward Riley Nash ’11.
The Cornell power play, which went 2-for-2 in Friday’s dominant 5-0 win over Clarkson, continued its streak of impressive play minutes after Regush’s tally, when sophomore forward Morgan Barron scored his team-leading 12th goal of the season, a rocket from the right circle that found its way past Saints goaltender Emil Zetterquist.
“I think it’s just sticking to our habits and taking what’s given,” Regush said of the Red’s success on the man-advantage, which is the best in the nation since Dec. 1 (33.3 percent). “The chemistry seems to be there. … It’s just going to the net and being around the net, and that’s usually the best way to score.”
After Haiskanen’s gory arm injury on Friday, Cornell was playing with just six total defensemen. What’s more, freshman forward Zach Bramwell, who has seen very minimal ice time this season, suited up and played a handful of shifts.
After a first period in which Cornell imposed its will on the last-place Saints, the Red was unable to put away the lowly visitors in the middle period — a St. Lawrence goal after the conclusion of a power play just past the midway point of the period made it 2-1 — but Vanderlaan’s sixth goal of the season, at the 16:19 mark of the second, allowed Cornell to retain a two-goal lead heading into the second intermission.
With numbers, Barron drops one off for Vanderlaan, who snipes home his 6th of the season to make it a 3-1 game. pic.twitter.com/gHpU68Gtz8
— Zachary Silver (@zachsilver) February 10, 2019
“The key play in the game was [late] in the second period when Morgan and those guys came in and made the play and Mitch buried it on a scoring chance [to give] us that comfort going into the third period,” Schafer said.
With a bit of breathing room in the ECAC, the Ivy-champion Red visits Brown and Yale next weekend.
“Guys have stepped up, played in different roles, different positions,” Vanderlaan said of his team’s resilience in the face of its constant injury woes. “Guys took on more minutes and even after the game, guys were really supportive of one another. Codes is in a tough spot, and guys were really supportive of him.”