This post has been updated.
- Cornell scored four goals in the second period to take down Princeton and improve to 8-0 on the season.
- Junior goaltender Matt Galajda turned in his second straight stellar performance, making 25 saves and bailing the Red out during a slow start.
- This is Cornell’s first 8-0 start to a season in almost 50 years.
A night after stealing a 2-1 win against Quinnipiac, junior goaltender Matt Galajda was the star again in the second game of a four-point weekend on Saturday, helping No. 2 Cornell men’s hockey to a 5-1 win over Princeton and giving the Red its first 8-0 start to a season since 1971.
Cornell (8-0, 6-0 ECAC) erupted for four goals in the second period to run away from the Tigers (1-4-3, 0-4-2), who forced Galajda to make several impressive stops on odd-man rushes and chances in the crease. Galajda made 12 of his 25 saves in the first period. He made 10 stops in the second before Cornell dominated the final period.
Following a scoreless opening frame, senior forward and captain Jeff Malott’s snipe from near the right circle gave the Red the lead less than a minute into the middle period. After several penalties were assessed in rapid succession against both teams, junior forward Tristan Mullin and freshman forward Ben Berard scored goals 45 seconds apart to widen the lead to 3-0 past the midway point of the period and chase Princeton goalie Ryan Ferland from the game.
“They have a little bit more of a killer instinct than some teams I’ve had in the past,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “They see that opportunity to go up 1-0, 2-0 and then get to the third goal, which is always critical.”
The Mullin and Berard goals continued two patterns for Cornell: scoring in bunches and dominating second periods. The Red had four goals in Saturday’s second period after tallying two on Friday, and the team has scored more than half its goals this season in the middle 20 minutes.
“We kind of just took over with our depth and really got back to the way we should be playing, rolling our lines and letting our skill take over,” Mullin said.
Mullin has played on a line with senior Noah Bauld and junior Kyle Betts throughout the season. In two games this weekend, the trio shut down both opponents’ top lines. In Saturday’s contest, Mullin scored a goal and Betts chipped in two assists, including a nifty feed on Malott’s goal. Betts also dominated in the faceoff circle, winning 12 of his 13 draws.
“Once we get one it’s like we can taste blood,” Malott said of his team’s quick scoring. “We just kind of keep pressing and keep pressing and it ends up breaking teams’ will. We haven’t had crazy good starts; we haven’t made a living off of starting the game and breaking their will right away but it just seems like if we play our game, teams have a hard time maintaining pressure for more than the first period.”
After being bailed out by Galajda in Friday’s 2-1 win, Cornell got off to a slow start on Saturday, relying on Galajda to make a few excellent saves early in the first period and again surrendering some odd-man rushes in the first and second.
“It’s kind of tough to see a start like that especially because we weren’t very happy with last night,” Malott said. “As the game went along we really came up to our standard and we found four lines that were really working hard and had strong details and kind of found our game as things went on.”
Despite the slow start, Cornell built a big lead in the middle period, taking the pressure off its netminder. After the third goal provided some breathing room, junior forward Cam Donaldson’s breakaway goal later in the second — after a blocked shot by freshman defenseman Travis Mitchell sent the puck free and sent Mitchell hobbling toward the bench — made it 4-0.
Princeton closed the gap a bit and ended Galajda’s shutout bid with a power-play goal early in the third, but junior defenseman Alex Green’s goal on a nice feed from Donaldson about four minutes later reestablished the four-goal lead.
The Tigers’ goal at the tail end of a power play ended an otherwise solid weekend for the Cornell penalty killing unit. The Red went 5-for-5 on the kill in the win against Quinnipiac and was 5-for-5 to start Saturday’s game before a shot hit a defenseman’s stick before riding up over Galajda’s shoulder.
Through eight games, Galajda is yet to record a shutout, but has allowed two or fewer goals in each of his wins.
Cornell takes on Boston University at 8 p.m. Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York City.