Men’s hockey hit the road for the first time last weekend, traveling to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Hanover, New Hampshire, to kick off ECAC play against Harvard and Dartmouth.
The team looked strong, even in its loss to Harvard. The Red outshot Harvard 38-22, but only managed to convert on two of those opportunities. In the third period, Cornell gave the Crimson one too many opportunities on the power play and Harvard took advantage to cap off a three goal comeback.
The Red nearly tied the contest in the final seconds of the third period, but junior forward Ben Berard’s shot rang the pipe and Harvard narrowly escaped with a 3-2 victory.
The Red bounced back the next night, coming out of the gate strong against Dartmouth. Cornell applied offensive pressure all night and found itself up with a 4-3 lead with two and a half minutes left when Dartmouth pulled its goalie for an extra attacker.
“We couldn’t seem to buy a goal in the first few games with Alaska and then again with Harvard, so that was nice to get them to finally start going in,” Berard said.
Berard, who notched two goals earlier in the night, had a chance to seal the game on the empty net, but attempted a pass that was intercepted by a Dartmouth skater. Forty seconds later, Dartmouth evened the score.
With time winding down, it seemed like Berard’s miscue cost the Red a regulation win, but Head Coach Mike Schafer ’86 left Berard on the ice for a chance to redeem himself.
“He didn’t mean to do that, and he probably learned his lesson,” Schafer said. “I’m grateful I did put him back on the ice because it was a great [ending].”
With 15 seconds left, junior forward Matt Stienburg deflected a shot and fed Berard, who brought the puck down the ice and fired a game winning goal with 6.2 seconds on the clock.
“That was a really, really weird ending because [I had] a feeling of ‘Thank god that went in,’ but we never should’ve been in that position,” Berard said.
The goal was Berard’s third of the night — his second hat trick — and his fourth point of the weekend after he assisted Stienburg the night before. Berard’s big weekend earned him ECAC Player of the Week honors.
“[Berard]’s one of our best players,” Schafer said. “He’s a great kid.”
Cornell’s strong performance in the loss against Harvard and its late win over Dartmouth was enough for the coaches and media to move the team up in the rankings. The Red gained two spots in both major polls, moving from 14th to 12th in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll and from 15th to 13th in the USCHO.com poll.
Cornell continues ECAC play at Lynah this weekend, facing Union on Friday at 7 p.m. and RPI on Saturday at 7 p.m.
“It was a long road trip for us,” Schafer said of the weekend. “We get back to work on Monday.”