Cameron Pollack / Sun File Photo

Then-freshman Tristan Mullin celebrates his goal at Madison Square Garden at the 2017 Red Hot Hockey game between Cornell and B.U.

November 27, 2019

Red Hot Hockey Preview: No. 2 Cornell Set to Take on Boston University at Madison Square Garden

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It’s hard to script a more exciting Thanksgiving weekend matchup: An undefeated Cornell team takes on a storied rival at the world’s most famous arena on Saturday night, hoping to give a Hockey East squad a taste of the domination the Red has handed ECAC rivals so far this season.

Puck drop at Madison Square Garden in New York City is set for 8 p.m. on Saturday night.

In the last installment of the biennial Red Hot Hockey event, the Red beat Boston University before losing to the Terriers in the NCAA Tournament later that season. Cornell will hope to turn in a better performance at MSG than it did in a “lifeless” loss to Harvard at last season’s Frozen Apple.

This is first meeting between the two programs since the 2018 NCAA Tournament, when B.U. knocked off No. 1 seed Cornell, ending the Red’s season.

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Scouting B.U.:
Record: 4-5-5 (3-3-4 Hockey East)

Leading scorers: David Farrance (10-9—19), Patrick Harper (5-11—16), Patrick Curry (9-6—15), Trevor Zegras (4-9—13)

Scouting report: The Terriers’ record isn’t pretty, but the team has taken on a number of elite opponents: B.U. earned a split against UMass, which played in last season’s national championship game, and earned one point against Providence, who went to the Frozen Four last season, earning a 3-3 tie before suffering a 6-5 loss. In its only game against an ECAC team this season, B.U. beat Union, 7-3, way back on Oct. 5.

B.U. will be looking for a bounce-back game after a 4-0 loss to Sacred Heart at home on Tuesday night.

The Terriers have dangerous offensive weapons — Farrance, Harper and Curry all rank in the top 10 in Hockey East in scoring. B.U. also boasts a wealth of NHL prospects — 12 Terriers are NHL draft picks.

Like Cornell, B.U. has been at its best in the second period of games. The Terriers have scored 23 of their 43 goals in the middle frame and have a plus-13 scoring margin in the second compared to a minus-1 margin in the first and a minus-12 mark in the third.

Cornell’s red-hot start:
It’s far too early to make Frozen Four travel plans, but Cornell’s 8-0 start to the season has turned heads in the college hockey world. The Red has exceeded the high expectations set for it in the preseason — it’s a far cry from the team’s rough start to the 2018-19 season.

Although Cornell finished last year a game away from the Frozen Four, the season appeared to be spiraling toward disaster around Thanksgiving. The Red started the year by suffering a sweep at home to Michigan State, lost to Harvard at MSG and had been decimated by a barrage of injuries. A gutsy road win at Harvard to close out the unofficial first half of the season helped save the season.

Flash forward to 2019, and Cornell has plenty to be thankful for heading into Turkey Day. The Red’s immaculate health and impressive freshman class have allowed it to roll four strong lines and create an identity as a deep team that wears down its opponents. The team’s 8-0 start has been dominant — Cornell is outscoring opponents 36-12, junior goaltender Matt Galajda has given up two or fewer goals in every game and 11 Cornell players have scored two or more goals.

Cornell knows that it’s not about how you start so much as it’s about getting hot at the right time. In the 2017-18 season, the Red started the year 7-0 and later ascended to the No. 1 spot in the national rankings before a loss to RPI bumped the team from the top spot, a loss to Princeton at Lake Placid dashed the team’s hopes of a Whitelaw Cup and a first-round NCAA Tournament loss to the Terriers brought the Red’s national championship dreams to a screeching halt.

The Red has already beaten two teams picked to finish in the top four in the ECAC, Clarkson and Quinnipiac. But the road win over the Golden Knights is the team’s only win over a ranked opponent so far this season. It’s hard to find any faults with 8-0 — but the perfect record will be put to the test on a big stage against B.U. before Cornell travels to Cambridge for a pivotal early-December matchup with undefeated No. 9 Harvard.

Cornell’s upcoming schedule:
Cornell fans always have the Red’s clash with the Crimson at Lynah East circled on their calendars. But the first of the rivals’ matchups of the 2019-20 season, set for Dec. 6 at Harvard, could be bigger than usual. Harvard is 6-0 and is scoring a whopping 5.5 goals per game, and both teams are in the top two in the ECAC in both goals scored per game and goals allowed per game.

After closing out the weekend at Dartmouth, Cornell is off for four weeks for final exams and the holiday break before traveling to Las Vegas for a matchup with Ohio State at the Fortress Invitational. Depending on the result, the Red will either face Army or get a rematch with Providence, the team that knocked Cornell out of last season’s NCAA Tournament.

The Red resumes ECAC play at RPI and Union Jan. 10 and 11 before returning to Lynah Rink for a two-game set with Northern Michigan Jan. 17 and 18. Cornell then hosts Dartmouth and Harvard in the first of five straight ECAC series to close out the regular season.

Game day details:
Where can I get tickets?
Tickets are on sale here. There is an $18 student ticket option along with tickets ranging in price from $33 to $319.

What sort of game day festivities are planned?
Several class gatherings and other alumni events are scheduled for the day of the game. Read more about pregame parties here. There will also be a Big Red Fan Zone by section 118 at MSG.

Is the game on TV?
The game isn’t listed on the ESPN+ schedule, but there will be a radio broadcast on WHCU (870 AM, 97.7 FM) in Ithaca and online.