This article has been updated.
Having just beaten Union College (3-7-2, 2-3-1 ECAC) 4-1 in its first home conference game on Friday night, No. 13 Cornell sought to continue its undefeated stretch at home against conference and in-state rival Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
The Red didn’t disappoint, putting on a dominant showing against a decent Engineers squad to keep its undefeated stretch at Lynah intact. The Red’s offensive onslaught featured five Cornell goals in the first period and a four-goal effort by senior forward Max Andreev en route to an 11-3 victory.
Cornell’s eleven goals marked the Red’s highest offensive output in over forty years and the highest of head coach Mike Schafer ‘86’s 25-year tenure.
“We had all four lines going, we had a contribution from all the guys… we followed the game plan and they just had that energy on the bench,” said head coach Mike Schafer ‘86. “I think that you can get sloppy coming out of your own zone and coming out of the neutral zone or try to be cute and I didn’t think we did that. We kept advancing pucks, we played with poise.
Junior forward Ben Berard, the Red’s (5-1, 3-1) leading goal-scorer headed into the contest, opened the scoring just 4:22 into the first period, taking a pass from freshman forward Justin Ertel and sneaking it past Engineer (5-5-1, 3-3) goaltender Linden Marshall, who was left defenseless on the two-man breakaway the led to the score.
The Engineers responded a minute and a half later when center Rory Herrman pushed the puck past freshman goaltender Joe Howe on an assist by forward Jack Brackett and defenseman Simon Kjellberg.
After a mad scramble behind the Engineers’ goal, junior forward Zach Tupker and junior defenseman Sebastian Dirven shoved the puck out of the huddle in front of the goal, where junior forward Ben Tupker was waiting to knock it in and give the Red back the lead with 10:54 remaining in the first period.
Cornell refused to take its foot off of the gas pedal, delivering another goal and expanding its lead to 3-1 just 49 seconds later. Andreev fired the puck past Marshall from the right circle, with freshman defenseman Hank Kempf and junior forward Matt Stienburg receiving credit for the assist.
The score marked the first goal of the season for Andreev, who scored the fifth-most points for the Red during the shortened 2019-20 season, notching five goals and fifteen assists for a total of 20 points.
“I was really happy for Max, he was really down early in the week. He thought he’d played really well in the first four games but just hadn’t gotten rewarded,” said Schafer. “Matt Stienburg showed great poise to get it to Hank [Kempf] and then Hank found [Andreev] out through the seam… it’s good to see him get rewarded with it.”
The Red continued to push the pace offensively, knocking several hard slap shots at Marshall.
With 4:50 remaining in the period, Andreev had a one-on-one with an RPI defender and fell trying to get past him, sending the puck drifting toward Marshall — who tried to slash at the puck and missed it before then trying to grab the puck, mistakenly knocking it back into his own goal. The score was credited to freshman forward Ondrej Psenicka, who poked the puck into the net as it was about to break the plane.
“I think we finally figured out our offense and how to use our defense effectively in the offensive zone… how to get those rebounds, how to get those dirty goals,” Andreev said.
Now down 4-1, the Engineers started to play more physical hockey against the Red, earning themselves multiple penalties in the last four minutes of the frame. RPI forward Shane Sellar earned himself a slashing penalty with 3:06 remaining, giving the Red their first power play opportunity of the night.
The Red quickly capitalized 40 seconds into the power play. Captain and senior forward Brenden sent a pass to Stienburg at the goal-line, who sent the puck across to ice where Andreev was waiting at the top of the right circle. Andreev lasered a one-timer slapshot into the top left hand corner of the net, putting the Red up 5-1.
With just under two minutes remaining in the period, RPI defenseman Anthony Baxter was given a penalty for cross-checking. The Red was unable to deliver on the power play, holding its lead at 5-1 going into the second period.
Remarkably, the second period of action was just as exciting as the first. Cornell continued to flash its offensive firepower, building on its already four-score lead over the period.
3:04 into the period, Zach Tupker launched a successful shot from center ice and gave the Red a 6-1 lead. Tupker’s brother Ben, along with freshman forward Sullivan Mack, were credited for the assist.
This goal marked the second of the game in which the Tupker twins connected for the score. Even though the twins had their forward linemate switched from the Union College game, they managed to find success once again.
“They are twins, they have an innate look for each other on the ice surface,” Schafer said. “I thought their line played really well both nights and it doesn’t seem to matter who we put on the other side with them… they just have that innate chemistry between them and they’re hard to play against.”
Down by five, the Engineers responded with 12:43 remaining in the period. Center captain Ture Linden knocked in his team’s second goal of the game, cutting Cornell’s lead back to four.
After comebacks from Harvard and Dartmouth last weekend, the Red wasn’t too keen on keeping the game in reach for RPI. One minute after Linden’s goal, Andreev, assisted by junior defenseman Travis Mitchell and sophomore defenseman Tim Rego, sent a shot from center ice past Marshall. This goal gave first-line center Andreev a hat trick on the game.
“[The hattrick] obviously felt amazing in front of the Lynah faithful,” Andreev said. “I couldn’t get much offense going in the first two weekends of the season so it’s definitely an amazing feeling and kind of dropped the weight off my shoulders.”
Andreev’s goal highlighted the resilience of the Red, who refused to let RPI shift the momentum of the game in the second period.
“We just kept our feet on the gas pedal,” Schafer said. “Zach Tupker came out and scored early in the second and as soon as they scored we came right back out and scored again… that’s a sign that we kept our attention into the game and also discipline.”
The onslaught on offense continued eighteen seconds later when Rego scored an unassisted goal from center ice, putting the Red up 8-2.
“I kind of just squared out to the slot and I was just trying to keep it in,” Rego said. “The goalie was busy with Ben Tupker in his face and I found a way in the back of the net.”
Although there was no more scoring for the remainder of the period, Cornell refused to take off the pressure. With under a minute remaining, Stienburg had a breakaway opportunity but couldn’t drive the puck past the goalie. Right before the end of the period, Stienburg had another fantastic opportunity, this time barely missing the goal on a pass after a 3-on-1 chance.
The third period featured more of a back-and-forth scoring affair. A mere 57 seconds into the period, Stienburg scored his first goal of the game on an assist by Andreev and junior defenseman Sam Malinski.
The Engineers countered Stienburg’s score with one of their own. Forward TJ Walsh slotted the puck past Howe for RPI’s third goal of the game. Baxter and forward Justin Addamo were credited for the assist on the score. The Red’s lead stood at 9-3 with 16:59 remaining in the final period.
A little over six minutes later, Engineer defenseman Louie Helsen was flagged for holding, giving the Red its third power play chance of the night. RPI successfully killed the penalty, keeping Cornell’s lead at six.
With 5:26 remaining in the contest, Andreev netted his fourth goal, bringing a pass from Stienburg back well behind the right circle, quickly turning around and sending a floater that arced down into the net right past Marshall. With Andreev’s score, the Red now had double-digit goals, leading RPI 10-3.
Cornell’s clean game came to an end soon after, and the team earned its first penalty of the game on a delay of game faceoff violation with 5:08 remaining. The Red successfully killed the penalty.
The Red once again added another goal with 1:21 remaining in the game. Locke passed the puck to Rego, who knocked in his second score of the game and Cornell’s eleventh in total.
Howe continued his flashy play in goal, finishing the contest with 23 total saves for the Red. On the other side, Marshall had 19 total saves for the Engineers on 30 shots on goal from Cornell, equating to a .633 save percentage.
Cornell will look to carry its momentum further into the conference slate as it hosts Brown and Yale next weekend at Lynah Rink.