Ben Parker/Sun Senior Editor

A missed call following a penalty on Kyle Betts (11) late in the third period helped No. 19 Clarkson complete a shocking comeback against Cornell.

December 5, 2021

Stunning Collapse Costs No. 9 Cornell Two Points

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When two teams that have not lost in their last seven games face off, one team’s streak must end. Or so the thinking goes. 

Late in the third period of Saturday’s game against Clarkson in Potsdam, Cornell seemed poised to extend its winning streak to eight games and bring Clarkson’s down to zero.

A meltdown during the final minutes of the game forced the Red to settle for a 4-4 tie and a shootout loss.

“Tonight’s a really tough, tough game,” Head Coach Mike Schafer ’86 said. “The guys played well for basically 55 minutes, and then we thought it was over…We let it get away and [Clarkson] came back hard.”

With under six minutes remaining, Cornell held a 4-0 lead behind senior goaltender Nate McDonald’s 29 saves on 29 shots. 

Seemingly, then, the most notable aspect of Clarkson’s goal with just over five minutes left was that it ended McDonald’s shutout bid. With a 4-1 lead with five minutes to play, it seemed that Cornell was set to wrap up an impressive road win.

Then Clarkson scored again. Facing a three goal deficit, the Golden Knights pulled their goalie with 3:45 to play. Clarkson capitalized with the extra attacker, scoring with just under three minutes left to pull within two.

With just under two minutes left, Schafer took a timeout. McDonald allowed a game tying, extra attacker goal in the final minute and a half of Cornell’s game against Dartmouth on Nov. 6.

“It’s very similar to a penalty kill — they’ve got one extra guy than us,” McDonald said after that game. “Things can get a little hectic when they have an extra guy, but I think the key is to stick to our systems and whenever I can, to slow the game down.”

Schafer’s timeout gave him a chance to prepare the team to wind down the clock on the final two minutes of 6-on-5 play and to close out the win.

And then Clarkson scored again. With a minute and a half to play Clarkson fired a shot from the circle. McDonald made a pad save, but the Golden Knights buried the rebound to cut Cornell’s lead to 4-3.

Cornell prevented the Golden Knights from taking more shots for the next minute, until a deep shot at the empty net from Cornell’s defensive zone went wide and resulted in a questionable icing call — a Clarkson skater seemed to pass up an opportunity to play the puck — with 34 seconds left.

Cornell won the faceoff and cleared the zone, but turned the puck over in the neutral zone. Clarkson brought the puck into the corner, where two Golden Knights and two Red skaters got tied up. Nobody could get the puck free until the referees blew their whistle with 4.7 seconds to play.

After the whistle, Clarkson’s Chris Klack and senior tri-captain Kyle Betts got into it, with Klack delivering a punch to Bett’s helmet and Betts responding by driving Klack to the ice. The two were assessed offsetting roughing penalties.

After a review, the officials placed the puck in Cornell’s defensive zone. The decision seemed to be an incorrect adjudication of Rule 81.2, which stipulates that the puck be placed in the neutral zone following an altercation where the attacking team’s players come below the faceoff circles to get involved – which Clarkson defenseman Noah Beck did when he went to the corner to check out the action.

“We made mistakes, officials made mistakes, and Clarkson capitalized,” Schafer said.

With 4.7 seconds left, if the puck had been placed in the neutral zone Clarkson would have had the impossible task of winning the draw, entering the zone and getting off a shot. But it wasn’t placed in the neutral zone.

And then Clarkson scored again. The Golden Knights won the draw and fired a shot from the circle. McDonald stopped the puck, but it fell behind him and Clarkson tapped it in to tie the game with 1.4 seconds left. 

“Even on the faceoff at the end, we didn’t do the job and they did,” Schafer said.

The third 6-on-5 goal completed a shocking comeback for Clarkson and a stunning collapse for the Red. 

The Red had been in firm control of the contest for the first 55 minutes, despite being outshot by Clarkson. Cornell only tested Clarkson’s Ethan Haider 19 times before he was pulled, but scored four times.

Cornell struck first when junior forward Jack Malone scored his third of the year just past the halfway point of the first period. Sophomore defenseman Tim Rego pulled off a spin move behind the net to create some space and fed Malone across the crease. Malone had no problem tapping in the puck to put Cornell in front, 1-0.

The Golden Knights ramped up the pressure down the stretch of the first, but could not get anything past McDonald, who started for the second consecutive night. Clarkson took a 8-6 shots lead into the intermission but Cornell led by a goal.

Clarkson was called for slashing in the opening minute of the middle frame, and after a long stretch of six on five play during the delayed penalty, the Red went on its second power play of the night early in the second. 

Cornell came into the night with a .150 conversion rate on the power play while the Golden Knights began the night with the nation’s second best penalty kill at .914. 

Despite facing a tough penalty kill unit and its own recent struggles on the power play, the Red managed to convert on its man advantage early in the second period. Senior forward Brenden Locke fed junior defenseman Sam Malinski, who fired a one-timer from the high slot past Haider to give the Red a 2-0 lead.

The rest of the second period saw back and forth action with both teams generating quality opportunities but neither converting. 

The Red took its 2-0 lead into the third period.

Cornell killed a penalty early in the third period and then withstood pressure from the Golden Knights.

With about 13 and a half minutes left Cornell sent a puck into its offensive zone. Haider came out of the net to play the puck, but junior forward Ben Berard picked his pocket before he could get a pass off. Berard found senior forward Max Andreev who buried the goal and put Cornell up 3-0 before Haider could return to his net.

Andreev struck again with just over eight minutes left, adding his second goal of the night on a power play. Locke found Andreev right in front of the crease and he poked it in to give Cornell a 4-0 lead. 

Cornell’s collapse down the stretch sent the contest to overtime – Cornell’s fourth foray into the new 3-on-3 format. Cornell won easily in its first three overtime tries, including two game winning goals from junior forward Matt Stienburg.

The Red were less successful on Saturday night. Clarkson had a few opportunities that were stopped by McDonald before the Golden Knights tripped Betts as he went to the net with just under three minutes left in the extra frame.

The Red’s 4-on-3 power play unit had plenty of opportunities – including a series of one timers by Stienburg and junior forward Ben Berard – but nothing got past Haider. Time ran out in the extra frame with neither team scoring.

The game officially ended in a 4-4 tie, but under the ECAC’s new rules a shootout determined which team received an extra point in the league standings.

Clarkson and Cornell each converted in the first two rounds of the shootout with Berard and Malone scoring for Cornell. After McDonald made a save in the third round, Sam Malinski had a chance to win it for the Red. Malinski lost the handle and the puck slid into Haider’s glove.

Clarkson scored in round four, putting the extra point on the line for Stienburg, whose wrist shot was snatched up with a nice glove save by Haider to secure the shootout win for Clarkson.

With the tie and shootout loss the Red earned one point in the league standings – a disappointing way to head to the break after seeming poised to take three points on the road against a big rival.

Cornell will take a four week break for finals and the holidays before heading to Tempe, AZ for a New Year’s Day matchup with Arizona State University.