It was a night of firsts for No. 1 Cornell men’s hockey — none of which were good.
On the road at Quinnipiac, the Red was expected to fight in a close battle against the Bobcats.
Friday night’s game was not a battle — it was a blowout. The Bobcats scored three first-period goals, giving the Red its first multi-goal deficit of the season. Cornell failed to make up any ground, suffering its first shutout in a 5-0 loss to Quinnipiac.
In November, the Red (14-2-4, 9-2-2 ECAC) edged out Quinnipiac (15-9-1, 8-4-1) for a 2-1 victory at home, and with both teams sitting near the top of the ECAC standings, many expected another tight contest between the two rivals.
During the opening minutes, Cornell had several opportunities to gain an opening edge. Led by junior captain Morgan Barron, the Red applied early pressure on Quinnipiac goaltender Keith Petruzzelli, but Petruzzelli turned away each shot on goal.
After enduring another barrage of shots by the Red, Quinnipiac regained possession and took the lead 8:53 into the game. On a 2-on-2 breakaway, Nick Jermain struck first as he beat junior goaltender Matt Galajda.
Less than a minute later, the Bobcats added another tally. Galajda faced immediate pressure off the faceoff, denying a William Fallstrom shot. But soon after, Zach Metsa’s deep snipe connected, resulting in a 2-0 lead for Quinnipiac.
“Boy, it’s as ugly as it gets,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “We had a couple of scoring chances early on. We turn the puck over and they score. We don’t pick up around net — they score. Now we’re behind the eight-ball for the rest of the night chasing a game against a team that can stay above you.”
With that score, Cornell faced its first multi-goal deficit of the season. Through its first 19 games, the Red only ever trailed by one goal. It didn’t take long for Cornell to enter even more uncharted waters.
At the 11:29 mark, Jermain and co. were blessed with a 3-on-1 opportunity. With the Bobcats swarming Galajda, Jermain poked the puck in behind Galajda for Quinnipiac’s third score. Up until this game, Galajda had only given up three goals once all season, which came in a 3-3 tie to Union.
“We’re not a very physical hockey team right now,” Schafer said. “We’re not a gritty team right now as far as winning battles. The whole game is about winning puck battles.”
After canceling power plays at the end of the first, the Red’s scoring drought continued in the middle frame. Throughout the period, Cornell only mustered five shots on goal, not generating the offensive production it needed to kickstart a comeback.
Meanwhile, Quinnipiac extended its lead once again 12 minutes into the frame when Alex Whelan pounced on a Fallstrom rebound, making it 4-0.
“They did a good job of beating us to loose pucks, winning puck battles,” Schafer said. “They beat us in just about every facet of the game. We had some guys respond to it and some guys who didn’t respond to it.”
Desperate, the Red continued to struggle. Quinnipiac owned the puck to start the final frame and added an insurance goal thanks to T.J. Friedmann. Following the Bobcats’ fifth goal, Galajda was pulled for the first time all season, putting junior netminder Austin McGrath in goal.
At this point, Cornell just wanted to put at least one up on the scoreboard — but that goal eluded the Red. Cornell had a power-play opportunity early in the period, but it whiffed on its one full chance.
In the middle of the frame, it appeared that the Red had finally scored. Barron punched the puck out from under Petruzzelli and into the goal. Petruzzelli had the puck under his glove, but the officials did not blow the play dead.
After a review by the officials, the goal was waved off, keeping Cornell scoreless. The Red remained at zero, sputtering to the finish.
“We’ve got to find our true identity here,” Schafer said. “Maybe a loss at this time of year is something that will wake up some of the guys in the room and make us look at our adjustments as a hockey team is concerned.”
Cornell will try to rebound from its worst performance of the season when it faces Princeton Saturday night.