Cornell will have to leave its eight-game unbeaten streak in 2021.
A weak second period by the Red and three unanswered goals by Arizona State led to a 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Sun Devils (11-10) in the first of a two game series in Tempe, Arizona.
After four weeks off, Cornell (9-2-1, 6-1-1 ECAC) did not show any signs of rust to open the game. The Red applied consistent pressure, jumping out to a 9-2 lead in shots early in the first period.
The pressure resulted in a lead just past the 10 minute mark when freshman forward Justin Ertel scored his first collegiate goal to put the Red ahead, 1-0. The scoring opportunity came after Cornell dumped the puck into its zone and sophomore forward Kyle Penney’s pressure on the forecheck helped senior forward Brenden Locke force a turnover. Locke brought the puck beneath the goal line and found Ertel open in front of the crease.
The Sun Devils applied more pressure after the goal, but freshman goalie Joe Howe made several saves to keep the Red ahead at the first intermission.
The second period was all Arizona State. The Sun Devils generated a barrage of shots and spent most of the period in their offensive zone. Their offensive pressure led to a goal at the 12:37 mark when Arizona State captain Collin Theisen broke into the offensive zone and flipped a backhand shot past Howe to even the score at 1-1.
The second half of the period was more balanced, with the Red generating some chances of its own. It seemed as though Cornell had regained its composure and would be able to take a tie into the third period.
However, in the final minute of the period, the Sun Devils extended their lead after a mistake by Howe. Arizona State poked a puck out of its defensive zone and it trickled down the ice into Cornell’s defensive zone. Howe came deep out of his crease, all the way to the top of the faceoff circle, in an attempt to play the puck. Arizona State’s Christopher Grando beat Howe to the puck and scored on the wide open net to put the Sun Devils ahead, 3-1.
The Red opened the third period with its foot on the gas, but was unable to convert on a series of shots and on a power play. The Sun Devils, meanwhile, scored on their first shot of the period when Matthew Koperud poked in a goal from the crease.
Cornell could not get anything by Arizona State’s goaltender Cole Brady down the stretch of the third period.
Brady, who entered the game with a 4.11 goals against average, stopped 31 of the Red’s 33 shots.
The Red pulled Howe with just over two minutes to play and managed to score with the extra attacker after freshman forward Ondrej Psenicka cut the deficit to 3-2 by finding the back of the net amid a scrum.
The Sun Devils quickly killed any hopes of a comeback by scoring on the empty net with a shot from the neutral zone. Arizona State added another empty net goal for good measure in the final seconds to finish off a 5-2 victory.
The defeat ended Cornell’s eight-game unbeaten streak, but the Red will have a chance to avenge the loss when they play the Sun Devils tomorrow night.