Cornell men’s hockey picked up a comeback road win to kick off its 2019-20 season, downing Michigan State, 3-2, on Friday and getting halfway to exorcising its demons from a sweep at the hands of the Spartans a year ago.
The Red overcame a pair of one-goal deficits and eventually got a game-winning power-play goal from sophomore forward Max Andreev 14:31 into the second period.
It was a promising start to the season for the Moscow native, who centered a top line with junior captain Morgan Barron and freshman Matt Stienburg.
“I got kind of screwed my freshman year [with] two injuries, tough year. … I’m looking for, I don’t want to say a breakout year, but I want to be seen as one of the top players on the team this year for sure,” Andreev said before the start of the season on Tuesday.
The game began poorly for Cornell, which got off to a slow start and fell behind 7:11 into the game on a Michigan State power-play tally.
The Spartans dominated the first few shifts of the game against a Cornell team that hadn’t played a non-exhibition game since March — the hosts were outshooting the Red, 6-1, when they got their first power-play opportunity about seven minutes into the contest. It took just seven seconds of the Spartans’ man advantage for them to take a 1-0 lead.
But Cornell eventually got going, and freshman forward Jack Malone’s first collegiate goal — also on the power play — knotted the score at one apiece later in the period. Cornell had eight freshmen in the opening day lineup for the first time since 1992.
“I see eight freshmen on the lineup and I wonder how the hell we ever got picked No. 4 in the country with so many young faces, but I thought those young faces played really well, played really solid and the older crew knocked off the rust,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86, who coached from the press box while recovering from hernia surgery earlier in the week.
After Andreev’s goal against the Spartans last season, Cornell’s first goal has now come from a rookie in two straight seasons.
Friday’s game was defined throughout by special teams play: The teams combined for 16 minor penalties and 14 power play chances. Cornell’s power play was a solid 2-for-8, but the Red’s penalty killers allowed the potent Spartan attack to record a pair of power-play goals in six opportunities.
Just 1:50 into the second period, a power-play goal by Michigan State forward Patrick Khodorenko reestablished the Spartans’ one-goal lead. A waved-off goal on the power play could’ve taken the wind out of Cornell’s sails near the midway point of the middle period, but a goal from senior defenseman and captain Yanni Kaldis a couple minutes later tied the game at two before Andreev’s power-play strike late in the second gave Cornell a 3-2 lead it never relinquished.
“I thought we just got into some really good Cornell hockey, I thought we were strong, won a lot of battles tonight [and] played well defensively,” Schafer said.
Junior goaltender Matt Galajda made 26 saves — nine in the first, eight in the second and nine in the third — to earn the win.
Junior forward and captain Morgan Barron picked up the primary assist on both the game-tying and game-winning goals, while freshman defenseman Sam Malinski earned his first NCAA point with a helper on Andreev’s goal.
Cornell takes on Michigan State in the second game of the teams’ two-game set at 7 p.m. Saturday in East Lansing.