This post has been updated.
On Friday night, head coach Mike Schafer ’86 lamented after his team’s win over Brown that the Red got off to a slow start. A Morgan Barron hat trick the following evening, completed fewer than 23 minutes into the contest, showed that the team heard its coach loud and clear.
The drama-filled 6-2 win brought No. 4 Cornell men’s hockey’s record to 4-0 on the season and featured various scrums, a 2-for-5 performance for the Cornell power play and the ejection of Yale’s Curtis Hall for a dirty hit on junior forward Tristan Mullin.
“We wanted our guys to get off to a hot start tonight,” Schafer said. “We wanted a better first five minutes; we really haven’t had that push in any of the games so far this year.”
The game promised excitement as early as 40 seconds in, when the first scuffle of the evening erupted in front of Yale’s net. Freshman forward Matt Stienburg was knocked to the ice amidst the commotion but the scrum ended inconsequentially — unlike the one that would come in the second period that caused Mullin to exit the game briefly with an apparent injury.
Exactly two and a half minutes after that first-period altercation, the first goal of the game came from Barron, who would finish the night with four points. The junior forward and captain leads the team with 10 points through four games.
“He was flat-out a beast tonight,” Schafer said. “Winning puck battles — and the way he can shoot the puck.”
The one-goal lead didn’t last long, as sophomore defenseman Joe Leahy, making his season debut, put one in two minutes later off of a pass from freshman defenseman Sam Malinski.
“A heck of a pass from [Malinksi],” Leahy said. “I was just kind of finishing my route and he found me there. It was a pretty sweet pass. I didn’t have to do much on that.”
On Tuesday, Schafer had expressed doubt that Leahy would be ready to play for the weekend due to an injury — but with a goal and an assist on the night, Leahy returned to action easily in the absence of junior defenseman Matt Cairns.
Barron’s second goal of the night came with just under seven minutes left in the first period when he managed to push the puck in from close range through a pileup of skaters around the Yale goal when it got loose. The commotion led the officials to conduct a video review, which determined that the call on the ice was correct.
Under 20 minutes into the game, he was already two-thirds of the way to the milestone.
“It’s always in the back of your head when you get two early,” Barron said. “But now I mean, the main thing, obviously it’s a cliche but we’re just worried about getting the win.”
Just over a minute into the second period, Cornell went on its first power play of the night. Entering the tilt, the team was converting at an impressive 40% rate on the man advantage — a statistic it maintained by the end of the evening.
1:22 later, it was Barron again, who received a pass from sophomore forward Max Andreev and compelled members of the Lynah Rink crowd to toss their caps on the ice by rifling a shot past Yale goaltender Corbin Kaczperski.
“He’s a great, great leader, along with our other captains,” Schafer said. “But he also does it on the ice, and that’s what you want your leaders to do, is they gotta perform — they can’t just speak the words, but they got to come out and they got to execute.”
It was the first hat trick by a Cornell player since Anthony Angello ’19 accomplished the feat at Harvard in January of 2018.
Yale headed to the power play shortly after as Stienburg went to the penalty box on a slashing call. The Red’s penalty kill had been a weak spot through the beginning of the season, with all four of Michigan State’s goals last weekend coming on the power play.
This time, the unit survived the two minutes, but barely: Immediately after the power play expired, Yale found a hole and scored its first goal of the contest to cut the deficit to 4-1.
But the three-goal deficit, too, was short-lived, as Andreev tipped in a long shot from Malinski six seconds into Cornell’s second power play of the night. The Red didn’t even give time for the penalty to be announced before the power play was over thanks to Andreev’s goal, his second of the season.
With 6:40 left in the period, the physicality of the contest culminated in the sequence that ended Hall’s night. Hall hit Mullin from behind to send the Cornell junior hard into the boards by the Cornell bench and, as his teammates came to join what transformed into a pile-up, Mullin escaped the chaos and slowly skated away and retreated into the locker room. He re-entered the game soon thereafter.
“We don’t want to get drawn into that; that’s kind of [Yale] playing their game more than us playing ours,” Leahy said. “We want to stay out of all that stuff, but it was nice to see guys sticking up for each other when we went down there.”
When all was said and done, Hall was handed a major penalty and ejected from the game, handing the Red a five-minute power-play, but for the first time all weekend, Cornell failed to capitalize on the man advantage.
When the buzzer finally sounded for what felt like a never-ending second period, the scoreboard read 5-1 in Cornell’s favor.
The third period saw significantly less drama. With 16:40 left in the game, freshman forward Zach Tupker scored his first goal of his Cornell career on a breakaway off a pass from junior defenseman Alex Green.
“Zach Tupker, he made no mistake on the breakaway,” Schafer said.
The rest of the period passed with little excitement until the third major fight of the night broke out behind the Yale goal, resulting in four-on-four play as freshman defenseman Sebastian Dirven and a Yale skater were sent to the penalty box for their altercation.
“They played pretty well for two periods and then the third period, I thought they got a little selfish, looking to create some offense and not playing the right way,” Schafer said. “They spent a lot of time turning pucks over instead of just playing the right way.”
Overshadowed by the night’s flashy offense was a strong performance by junior goaltender Matt Galajda, who came up with 24 saves over the course of the night for a .923 save percentage. 13 of Galajda’s 24 saves came in the third period. In the final minute of the contest, Galajda conceded Yale’s second and final goal and the score reached its final form of 6-2.
Still undefeated this season, Cornell will ride its winning streak into its game at No. 8 Clarkson at 7 p.m. Friday. The clash with the Golden Knights will be a rematch of last season’s ECAC championship game, which Cornell lost in overtime. It will also be the Red’s first matchup this season against a ranked opponent.