The Red defeated Team USA’s National Team Development Program’s under 18 team with a score of 4-2 in an exhibition at Lynah Rink on Saturday night.
Coming off a 5-0 victory in its first exhibition against Princeton, Saturday’s contest marked the last warmup run for Cornell before it takes on the University of Alaska Fairbanks to start its regular season next weekend.
For the second consecutive game, all three of Cornell’s goalies played a period. This time, freshman Joe Howe drew the start, freshman Ian Shane filled in for the second period and senior Nate McDonald closed out the game.
Howe and Shane each allowed a goal, while McDonald notched a shutout period for the second week in a row. Howe finished with 12 saves, while Shane had two and McDonald had one. Team USA put up 13 shots in the first period, but only added four more in the final two. Head Coach Mike Shafer ’86 said that the shot differential makes it hard to evaluate his goalies.
“It really does [make it hard], but we evaluate every day in practice,” Schafer said.
On the other side of the ice, Team USA’s goalie Dylan Silverstein thwarted the Red all night, saving 40 of their shots. Cornell had to out-shoot Team USA 44-17 in order to secure the two goal win.
From the start, the contest was filled with penalties. Team USA was called for five penalties in the first period while the Red were called for three.
Despite the numerous power play opportunities — including a brief five on three opportunity for each team — neither team was able to convert. Team USA put up two shots on the power play and Cornell put up three, but none found the back of the net.
Both of the period’s goals came when the teams were at full strength. Team USA started the scoring with 1:11 left in the first frame when Michigan commit Seamus Casey ripped a slap shot by Howe. The goal came at the end of a long defensive shift for the Red that saw Howe deflect a number of shots.
Cornell was quick to answer. Just 50 seconds after the Team USA goal, the Red stormed into their offensive zone on a breakaway. Tricaptain Kyle Betts’ shot deflected off Silverstein and fell right to freshman Ondrej Psenicka, who scooped up the rebound and buried it in net.
The second period also saw frequent penalties, with Cornell being nabbed for four and Team USA for three. Unlike in the first, the teams were able to capitalize on power play opportunities in the second frame.
The Team USA power play unit took advantage after fifth-year tricaptain Kyle Betts was sent to the box for boarding. With 9:31 left in the period, Notre Dame commit Logan Cooley put a puck past Cornell’s second goaltender of the evening, freshman Ian Shane.
Once again, the Red did not wait long to respond. Four seconds after the face-off, Team USA’s Devin Kaplan was penalized for cross checking, giving the Red an opportunity to respond on the power play.
The Red power play unit took advantage, as junior Matt Stienburg scored his third goal of the preseason. Stienburg’s goal evened the score at two goals apiece. The goal came 33 seconds after Team USA’s.
The string of power plays goals were the only scores of the second period, so the teams entered the third period tied at two.
The final frame got off to a slow start. Cornell had a few scoring opportunities in the first ten minutes, but Silverstein made difficult saves to keep the score tied.
With about seven minutes left, a hooking call gave Cornell a power play. On its first opportunity in the offensive zone, the Red fired two shots at the net but they both hit Silverstein’s pads.
A minute and a half into the power play, Team USA appeared to score a shorthanded goal. However, the goal was waved off because Team USA had been assessed a slashing penalty, giving Cornell a 30 second five on three.
“I took a timeout because I thought we were getting a penalty,” Schafer said. “I really had no idea that we were going on a five on three.”
The Red quickly took advantage of their opportunity, as junior Ben Berard scored off a one-timer just four seconds into the five on three. Berard, who recorded a hat trick in his most recent regular season game and scored on the first shift of last week’s exhibition with Princeton, was not finished. 18 seconds after breaking the tie, Berard fired a shot from the dot into the net to extend Cornell’s lead to two goals.
Schafer praised Berard for how he has responded to criticism from the coaches. The night before Berard’s hat trick, Schafer benched him. Tonight, Schafer said he spoke to Berard about aspects of his play he could improve on.
“Tonight I didn’t like some of the things he was doing,” Schafer said. “I kind of jumped on him a bit, maybe too hard, but man does he respond.”
Once again, Berard responded well to his coach. His two goals within 18 seconds proved to be the difference maker in the contest, as McDonald held the Americans scoreless in the final frame.
“Whenever you get talked to and it’s negative, you want to come back strong,” Berard said. “I was just excited to get the lead there and hold on for the last couple of minutes for the win.”
Before Cornell opens its season on Friday, Schafer wants to clean up some areas of the team’s play.
“We have to control our sticks,” Schafer said. “All the calls tonight were slashing, hooking, tripping, so we have to adjust to that.
Schafer also wants to refine his special teams units. While the power play and the penalty kill performed well last week, those units struggled at times against team USA. Cornell finished 3-11 on the power play, but was inefficient for most of the game before Berard’s outburst.
“Power play was frustrating at times,” Schafer said. “We’ll get back to it this week [in practice], and have a power play and penalty kill bootcamp to try to get more guys involved.”
The Red will look to make those adjustments before it starts its season on Friday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. in Lynah against the University of Alaska Fairbanks.