This post has been updated.
Coming off a dominant sweep of Michigan State, Cornell men’s hockey carried plenty of confidence into its first ECAC tilt against Brown.
After all, the Red already boasted a 14-game unbeaten streak against the Bears. On Friday night, Cornell extended that streak to 15 games with a 4-1 victory in front of the home crowd.
Once the Red found its groove after scoring two goals in the second period, the outcome was evident. By the end of the night, Cornell overwhelmed the Bears, finishing with a 32-14 edge in shots on goal.
The night didn’t get off to the start either team was looking for — the contest was delayed due to a chunk of ice getting loose. But nearly 10 minutes, two shovels and one bucket of extra ice later, ECAC play was underway.
Play has been delayed due to what seems to be a chunk of ice getting loose. The officials are patting it back in place. pic.twitter.com/dzCrbOvsKY
— Christina Bulkeley (@CBulkeleySun) November 9, 2019
Brown came out of the gates firing. Through the first few minutes, the Bears controlled possession and pressured the Cornell defense. The Red did not break, though, as Brown failed to put up any quality shots on goal.
“We need to come out quicker in the first five minutes,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “I’d like to see us play with a lot more jump in our stride, especially away from the puck.”
“In the first period, we weren’t too good with our forecheck,” said junior forward Cam Donaldson. “We were a little bit too passive.”
Before long, Cornell regained its mojo. The Red began to pepper Brown goalie Gavin Nieto with shots, but Nieto held firm.
12 minutes into the period, freshman forward Matt Stienburg was flagged for interference, resulting in a one-man advantage for Brown. Entering this game, Cornell had only allowed goals with its opposition on the power-play this season, but the Red successfully killed the penalty.
Using that momentum, Cornell capitalized on a break at the end of the period. Junior defenseman Alex Green outmaneuvered a Brown defender, causing him to flip over his shoulder. Waiting until the defenseman was past, Green whipped the puck past Nieto for the Red’s first score of the night.
Cornell continued its aggressive play into the second frame. The Red pressured Nieto and held the puck behind Brown’s blue line, but the Bears refused to concede.
Eventually, Brown regained possession, and it did not take long for the Bears to find the back of the net. Following a missed shot by Brown, Bears senior captain Zach Giuttari passed the deflection off to Brent Beaudoin, who knotted the contest at one goal apiece for Brown’s only goal of the night.
“It was 1-0, and then it was a weird bounce to make it a tie-game,” Schafer said. “It hit like two or three people and went in, but those things happen.”
Less than a minute and a half later, the Red responded. Freshman Sam Malinski — the reigning ECAC Rookie of the Week — notched the second goal of his career, reinstating Cornell’s lead. Through three games, the first-year player is the Red’s leading scorer with six points to his name.
“We were actually just trying to get up in the zone,” Malinski said, describing how the goal unfolded. “I saw one of their guys get caught behind the play a little bit, and I saw a seam down the middle and found the goal.”
Cornell and Brown traded shots thereafter as junior goaltender Matt Galajda was called upon to make several saves. In the waning minutes, it appeared that the Red would carry a one-goal cushion into the second intermission.
That changed thanks to junior forward Brenden Locke. After Brown defenseman Luke Krys blocked his shot, Locke retorted with a shot that flew by Nieto into the net to double Cornell’s lead.
“Brenden Locke, I thought, was the best player on the ice for us tonight,” Schafer said. “I thought he was outstanding in all aspects of the game … I thought that he was really focused and led the way for us.”
Donaldson — who returned for his first action of the season after injury — provided the assist on Locke’s goal and ultimately finished the night with two points.
“We’re really good friends,” Donaldson said, referring to Locke. “Playing with him last year, I know all of his tendencies and where he wants to go with it. He’s got great vision — he can find me a lot, and I can find him a lot.”
Shortly after, Bears forward Tristan Crozier was penalized for slashing in the final seconds of the second period, giving the Red its first power-play opportunity of the evening to start off the third frame.
Cornell quickly went to work after the intermission, solidifying the outcome. Junior forward Morgan Barron put another one on the board after launching a pass from Malinski past Nieto for the Red’s fourth tally while also upping the team’s power-play conversion rate to 40%.
“If we could stay at 40% for the year, I’d be the happiest coach in the country,” Schafer said. “I was ecstatic that they came out and made that a 4-1 game … and rode it out from there on in.”
From there, Brown struggled to generate any good scoring opportunities necessary to close the gap. Meanwhile, Cornell kept the puck on Brown’s side of the ice as it cruised to its third straight win.
Cornell will take on Yale Saturday night at 7 p.m. as it looks to extend its win streak to four.