This post has been updated.
NEW YORK — Junior goaltender Matt Galajda has been a stalwart all season for No. 2 Cornell men’s hockey. But as his team dominated opponents en route to an 8-0 start, Galajda still hadn’t secured a shutout.
That finally changed at the world’s most famous arena on Saturday night, when Galajda made 28 saves to help Cornell take the Kelley-Harkness Cup with a 2-0 win over Boston University in front of 15,142 fans at Madison Square Garden.
“[Galajda] absolutely can’t stand getting scored on in practice … and it carries over for him in games,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86, whose team improved to 9-0 for the first time since its perfect 1969-70 national championship season.
Galajda was called upon early and often as Cornell (9-0, 6-0 ECAC) got off to a slow start — a recurring theme this season. The Terriers (4-6-5, 3-3-4 Hockey East) fired shot after shot at Galajda, who was forced to make some vital early saves to keep the game scoreless. B.U. outshot Cornell during the first frame, 19-8.
“They came out really strong in the first period and had some chances,” Galajda said.
An exciting second period proved to make all the difference after the Red’s slow start. Cornell scored both its goals in the second and has dominated in middle periods all season: The Red is outscoring opponents 22-6 in second periods this season and has scored more than half of its goals in middle frames.
A goal by sophomore forward Michael Regush catapulted Cornell into the lead 7:39 into the frame, after he punched in a rebound following a shot by senior defenseman Yanni Kaldis.
Just seconds after the restart, junior forward Brenden Locke wasted no time in doubling the Red’s lead. Locke’s one-time shot from the slot off a tight pass from freshman forward Ben Berard found the back of the net just 20 seconds after Regush’s tally.
Cornell took control in the second and third periods, but Galajda stood tall in an opening period dominated by the Terriers. He made a key save on an early breakaway chance to prevent B.U. from taking a lead.
Galajda didn’t do it alone, as the Red’s defense thwarted each and every Terrier attack in the second and third periods.
“Our defense kept them to the outside and were on them all game,” Galajda said of his defensemen.
For Galajda, the MSG game marked a special triumph. Last year at the Garden, the netminder was injured in an ugly 4-1 loss to Harvard. This year, though, the junior rectified his form and used the big NYC stage to showcase his hard work — and pick up his first shutout of the 2019 season.
“Playing at Madison Square Garden, you really can’t compare to that, the world’s biggest venue. It’s something I’ll never forget,” Galajda said.
Cornell now turns its attention to a road matchup with No. 9 Harvard, set for 7 p.m. Friday in Cambridge.
“It’s about ignoring the noise and managing expectations,” Schafer said.
Luke Pichini and Raphy Gendler contributed reporting.