Boris Tsang / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

February 15, 2019

No. 8 Men’s Hockey Collapses in 3rd Period, Settles for Tie With Brown

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This post has been updated.

Just over four minutes into the third period, Cornell men’s hockey appeared to be well on its way to securing two road points against Brown in Providence. But then a Brown goal cut the Red’s lead from three goals to two. And then Brown scored another. And then another.

In just under one minute of play, the Bears (10-10-4, 7-6-4 ECAC) spoiled Cornell’s and sophomore goaltender Matt Galajda’s bid for a shutout by scoring three times and erasing a lead that Cornell had built across two periods in just a matter of seconds.

“[Brown] played well, we got point hungry and it came back and bit us in the ass,” said a frustrated head coach Mike Schafer ’86 following his 800th game as bench boss.

Trailing 3-0, Brown got goals from Chris Berger, Colin Burston and Tommy Marchin got quick strikes, and the game was tied with just under 15 minutes to play. The 3-3 score remained intact for the rest of the third period and overtime.

After Brown made it 3-2, Cornell called timeout to refocus. It didn’t work: Marchin’s goal just 13 seconds later — against Cornell defensemen Alec McCrea and Brendan Smith, plus captain Mitch Vanderlaan’s forward line — tied the score.

“It was disappointing that we got out there and give up [two] quick goals, call a timeout to get our guys situated and then we go right back out with our supposedly our best defensive pair and our best defensive line, and they go right back out and give up another one,” Schafer said.

“We came ready to play in the first and obviously didn’t come ready to play in the third,” the coach added.

The Red (15-6-3, 11-3-3) jumped out early in the game, continuing the first period dominance it has exhibited all season long. First, Vanderlaan made a nice play to set up his linemate, sophomore Tristan Mullin, for a goal to give Cornell a lead just 22 seconds in the game. Later, Mullin returned the favor, making a nice play of his own and forcing a Brown turnover on the forecheck — setting Vanderlaan up for the Red’s second goal.

Cornell has now outscored opponents 30-6 in the first period this season and hasn’t allowed a first-period goal since Nov. 9 at Northern Michigan.

Although Cornell’s lead only grew by one more, courtesy of a blue-line slapshot from sophomore defenseman Matt Cairns in the second period, the Red’s night took a sharp turn for the worse after Brown’s incredible three-goal spurt early in the third left the score tied — the way it stayed for the remainder of the contest.

Schafer said his “point hungry” team didn’t do the necessary work in the third period to preserve or expand its lead.

“They just don’t chip pucks down on the boards in the neutral zone,” Schafer said. “We had a 2-on-1 and we decided our forward and our defensemen also wanted to join and make it a 4-on-1 so if we miss the net like we did, then it goes back the other way into a 3-on-1 and they end up scoring and we didn’t back check.”

The result was frustrating, blowing a 3-0 lead in the antepenultimate weekend of the season. But the primary recipient of Schafer’s ire was the officiating crew.

Cornell picked up a big-time penalty kill (its 30th consecutive successful kill) near the end of the third period when Matt Nuttle was penalized after a Brown skater simply dropped his stick, according to Schafer. The Brown power play, which began with 3:33 left in the third, was the hosts’ first of the game.

“All the stuff they let go and then all of a sudden they call the weakest call in the book,” Schafer said of the referees. “The kid drops his stick so it’s an automatic call, forget about holding, cross-checking, boarding and all that stuff. We’ve gotta get that dropping the stick out of the game, it’s frickin dangerous.”

Playing with a 3-0 lead, the Red was not the recipient of any helpful calls. Schafer, citing his lineup already shorthanded due to injuries, was especially irked about two knee-on-knee plays he said should be submitted for “supplemental discipline.” Cornell was also penalized for a bizarre faceoff violation in the final seconds of overtime.

“It’s frustrating when you have the lead three-nothing and absolutely it’s dictated by not gonna call anything more [for] the team that’s got the three-nothing lead,” Schafer said. “That’s happened in officiating for years and years and years. It’s just that we gotta overcome that and not cheat the game and get frustrated with it.”

Schafer said of his injury-depleted team’s reaction to settling for a tie: “Yeah they’re pissed off, they’re pissed off for themselves, that’s where it starts.”

With the draw, the Red picks up its 25th conference point and maintains its standing atop the ECAC. Quinnipiac and Harvard played their ways into a tie for second place, with 22 points, on Friday with a tie and win, respectively.

Cornell will look to expand its lead in the standings against Yale at 7 p.m. Saturday in New Haven.