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Cornell men’s hockey turned in a solid performance in a 3-0 win over the U.S. National Team Development Program’s Under-18 team at Lynah Rink on Saturday.
Sophomore Max Andreev, junior Brenden Locke and junior Tristan Mullin scored in the first, second and third periods, respectively. Junior goaltenders Matt Galajda and Austin McGrath combined for a 13-save shutout.
“We wanted to make sure that we took time and space away from this team because they can really skate and get up and down the ice and I thought we did a really good job of that tonight,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “I thought our guys really moved their feet and crowded them coming out of their own zone through the neutral zone.”
Cornell’s regular season gets started at 7 p.m. Friday at Michigan State. Here are some notes from the final exhibition contest:
Galajda gets ready
Galajda played the first two periods of Saturday’s game, and while he didn’t face a lot of shots, he was solid between the pipes and kept the skilled U.S. team off the board. Late in the first period, Galajda made a sprawling save to preserve a one-goal lead.
After an injury prematurely ended his sophomore campaign, Galajda will hope to get off to a hot start to 2019-20. Last season got off to a nightmarish start for the then-sophomore fresh off a rookie year in which he was named a Hobey Baker finalist — he was yanked in favor of McGrath in two straight games, both home losses to Michigan State. After three total periods in net during exhibitions having allowed one goal, Galajda looks ready to go.
“I thought he was really solid, controlled his rebounds and didn’t let anything pop out and he was ready for any second chances,” Schafer said. “He’s been sharp in practice, he’s been sharp in the games we’ve had. … He’s on top of his game.”
Power play needs some work after 0-for-7 outing
Still recovering from injuries, freshman Matt Stienburg and junior Cam Donaldson didn’t play on Saturday, meaning the opening-night power play units will look a bit different than they have during the pair of exhibition contests.
Senior defenseman and captain Yanni Kaldis returned to the lineup and ran the top power play unit, as he will do during the regular season. Lined up with freshman blueliner Sam Malinski, junior forward and captain Morgan Barron and sophomore forwards Andreev and Michael Regush, Kaldis’ power play unit struggled — the Red was 0-for-7 on the power play on Saturday.
“We’re trying to develop some chemistry, and Yanni came back tonight and I thought that group was really impatient throughout the course of the night,” Schafer said. “I don’t think they showed any sort of patience whatsoever to break down the team and get quality chances.”
Freshmen defensemen impress
A major storyline going into the season is Cornell’s inexperienced blue line after the graduation of defensemen Matt Nuttle ’19, Alec McCrea ’19 and Brendan Smith ’19. But four newcomers have impressed the coaching staff and suggest that pushing the panic button isn’t necessary regarding the Cornell defense.
Sam Malinksi, Travis Mitchell, Sebastian Dirven and Peter Muzyka all saw big chunks of minutes in both exhibition games and looked solid even with the exhibition game fluidity of D-pairs.
“[Mitchell, Dirven and Malinski] have been giving us quality minutes,” Schafer said. “They’re playing in all situations and they haven’t looked out of place at all as a group of defensemen.”
The listed defensive pairings only tell part of the story for exhibition games, but in both games, Mitchell and Dirven have been listed as a pair, Malinski has lined up with junior Matt Cairns and Muzyka has been listed as junior Alex Green’s partner.
Schafer said both Stienburg and Donaldson are “really close” to returning, and probably could’ve played had this been a championship weekend.
Kaldis and senior forward and captain Jeff Malott returned to the lineup after missing the first exhibition game. Malott is working his way back from a knee injury suffered in last season’s ECAC championship game, and said on Tuesday he expects to be good to go for the regular season.
There was no update on defensemen sophomore Joe Leahy and junior Cody Haiskanen, both of whom haven’t played yet during the preseason.