Galajda steals the show to keep Cornell’s record perfect
Junior goaltender Matt Galajda hadn’t yet allowed more than two goals in a game, but also hadn’t needed to be the hero yet this season heading into Friday’s game.
In the 2-1 victory over Quinnipiac — in which the Red was outshot for the first time this season, 23-22 — Galajda stole a win, showing off his All-American skill to help his team move to 7-0. Galajda was in the spotlight again during a slow start for Cornell on Saturday, shutting the door on a few early Princeton chances before Cornell’s offense got going. The Tigers outshot the Red, 12-5, in the first period on Saturday.
“It’s huge for our confidence when you have a guy like Galajda who’s making saves like that night in and night out,” said senior forward and captain Jeff Malott after Saturday’s game.
“[Galajda] stole a game for us. We need to be better than that but he was an absolute stud back there,” sophomore forward Michael Reugsh said after Friday’s game.
Galajda made 13 of his 22 saves on Friday in the third period, preserving a one-goal lead in a game whose scoring all took place in the middle frame. On Saturday, the Red took control in the final frame — Galajda needed to make just a few saves in the final 20 minutes after making most of his 25 saves in the first two periods.
“That’s unbelievable. It’s always good when a goalie can steal a game for you and he certainly did that [Friday] on the PK in the first [period on] those three breakaways,” said junior forward Brenden Locke, who scored Cornell’s first goal against Quinnipiac. “He’s just such a calm goaltender and he came up huge tonight and stole the game. You need a good goaltender to be a good hockey team and he’s proven that he is.”
No sequence this weekend was bigger for the netminder than the mess late in the first period of the Quinnipiac game. Right as a Cornell power play was ending, the Red broke up a 2-on-1 before falling asleep and allowing back-to-back breakaways. Galajda turned aside a Grade-A chance before the Bobcats sent a shot off the crossbar, missing out on a stellar opportunity to take a lead.
“Honestly [it] doesn’t really feel any different than any other game this year,” Galajda said after Friday’s win. “We battled hard tonight and I really don’t think that my performance feels any different.”
Penalty kill turns in strong showing after early-season struggles
Through six games, Cornell’s penalty kill was perhaps its only weakness — but the Red’s best-in-the-nation power play had overpowered opponents. On Friday, the Cornell penalty kill — succeeding at a sub-80 percent clip entering the game — was a perfect 5-for-5, keeping Odeen Tufto and a skilled Quinnipiac power play unit off the board. On Saturday, the Red killed five penalties in a row before a Tigers’ goal with just two seconds remaining on a Princeton man advantage early in the third period.
Cornell successfully killed a minute and a half of 6-on-4 to end Friday’s game after Morgan Barron was whistled for interfering with Bobcat goalie Keith Petruzzelli and Quinnipiac emptied its net for an extra skater. Galajda needed to make just one save during the 6-on-4.
Earlier in the game, Cornell killed two penalties in quick succession early in the first period before doing the same in the third to preserve a one-goal lead.
Thirty-eight seconds after a slashing minor on Matt Stienburg expired about four minutes into the third, Brenden Locke was called for holding. The Cornell penalty killers held their own again, getting timely clears and clogging shooting lanes.
At even strength, the Noah Bauld-Kyle Betts-Tristan Mullin line effectively matched up with Quinnipiac’s top line, keeping Tufto and his linemates off the score sheet. Betts, a fixture on Cornell’s penalty killing unit, has six blocked shots this season, the most among Cornell forwards. Bauld is second with five.
Cornell-Quinnipiac rivalry provides another intense game
Something strange seems to happen every time Cornell and Quinnipiac face off, and Friday’s game — a 2-1 Cornell win — was no exception.
The Red dominated the Bobcats in the ECAC playoffs to end a miserable 2017-18 season for Quinnipiac. In game two, Cornell got dinged for two major penalties and had to grind out a 2-0 win after a 9-0 game one rout.
Last season, Quinnipiac stole a game at Lynah, 3-2, thanks to a dump in from the neutral zone that caromed off the boards and into the net before the teams tied in Hamden later in the season.
Cornell has struggled against Quinnipiac in recent seasons, posting a 4-8-2 regular season record against the Bobcats in the last seven seasons.
The games are always close, always physical and always include something fans don’t see every day. On Friday night, there was a major penalty, a bizarre faceoff violation delay of game penalty, a scrum after the final buzzer and a 27-second sequence that featured three straight odd-man rushes.
Quinnipiac and Cornell aren’t natural rivals, but the Bobcats — in just their 15th season in the ECAC and 22nd in Division I — have emerged in recent seasons as a team that brings a playoff-like atmosphere to games at Lynah Rink.
Recent seasons have included beef between Cornell coach Mike Schafer ’86 and Bobcats boss Rand Pecknold, Quinnipiac posting The Sun’s sports page in their locker room and, most recently, a game that saw a bunch of video reviews, some strange penalties and a handful of big hits.
Zebras play prominent role
In a game that included 11 penalties and three video reviews, the ECAC officiating crew was the target of ire from both benches throughout Friday’s contest. The refs reviewed a hit by Mullin on Tufto and confirmed their no-call, ejected a Quinnipiac skater after replay and cleared up a missed icing call by reviewing the play and adding three seconds to the clock late in the third.
Late in the game, a review helped Cornell: William Fällström cross-checked Stienburg up high in the Bobcat zone, but the play didn’t draw a whistle. Play continued, and Alex Green was called for tripping. After a review, the officials assessed Fällström a major penalty and a game misconduct for contact to the head.
It was the second strange penalty of the game that involved Stienburg: In the first period, after Locke was booted from the faceoff dot, Stienburg was called for delay of game after also being thrown out of the circle.
Mullin-Betts-Bauld line impresses again
After shutting down the Bobcats on Friday, Mullin, Betts and Bauld got in on the fun offensively on Saturday.
Mullin’s snipe in the second period gave the Red momentum and a two-goal lead. Betts assisted on each of the Red’s first two goals, setting up Malott with a nice pass to open the scoring. Bauld picked up the secondary assist on Malott’s goal.
For a line usually tasked with shutting down opponents’ top forwards, it was a welcome chance to contribute to a red-hot offense.
“You pretty much play hockey to score goals, that’s the best feeling in the world,” Mullin said. “So when you can do that it’s great, but doing the role for the team and trying to do the best thing for the team is a good feeling too.”
Cornell’s depth continues to be its greatest strength offensively. After having 10 different players score a goal in the North Country last weekend, the Red’s seven goals this weekend were scored by seven different players. Cornell has found its identity as a team that can wear down opponents by playing four quality lines.
“I don’t know who our first and second and third and fourth line is,” Schafer said. “They all can contribute. I think if you asked our guys who our first line I bet you’d probably get a lot of different answers. And that’s what you want from a hockey team.”