After a disappointing loss on New Year’s Day, No. 9 men’s hockey had an opportunity to bounce back in the second and final game of its series with Arizona State.
Instead, Cornell (9-3-1, 6-1-1 ECAC) fell for the second consecutive night, this time by a score of 3-2.
Arizona State (12-10) rode the momentum from its victory Saturday night into the first period. The Sun Devils scored less than two minutes into the contest, sneaking a shot from the left point through traffic and past senior goaltender Nate McDonald.
Ten minutes later, Arizona State stormed through the neutral zone and took advantage of numbers, beating McDonald with a pass and scoring to extend its lead to 2-0.
The Sun Devils chased McDonald with just over a minute left in the opening frame. A Cornell turnover in the offensive zone led to a one-timer from the high slot that beat McDonald to his stick side.
At this point, Head Coach Mike Schafer ’86 had seen enough from McDonald, pulling him in favor of freshman Ian Shane. McDonald finished with seven saves on 10 shots.
Shane showed no signs of inexperience in his collegiate debut. He stopped all 23 of the shots that he saw, including 13 in the second period to keep Cornell’s comeback hopes alive.
Shane’s dominance allowed the Red to chip into Arizona State’s lead. Early in the second period, Cornell got on the board when senior forward Brenden Locke fired a shot through the five-hole. The puck hit an abandoned stick in the neutral zone, which left the Sun Devils defense out of position and allowed Cornell to make a series of quick passes to find Locke.
The Red was unable to further close the gap in the second, and was outshot 13-9 during the period.
Locke cut the deficit in half early in the third period, firing a backhander from the slot that got past Arizona State’s Cole Brady to bring the score to 3-2.
Shortly after the goal, freshman forward Kyler Kovich took a penalty for roughing. The Red completed the kill to remain within a goal with 15 minutes to play.
Cole and Shane each made a save before an Arizona State skater took a hard hit along the boards in the corner. After a review, the officials assessed sophomore forward Jack O’Leary a five-minute major.
Shane and the penalty killers stepped up, as five saves by Shane and a series of blocked shots allowed the Red to kill the major penalty.
Cornell hoped to use the impressive kill to generate momentum with six and a half minutes to play.
The Red ramped up the pressure, but was unable to even the score and pulled Shane in favor of an extra attacker with just under two minutes left.
The Red launched a series of shots with the extra attacker, but nothing got by Brady and the Sun Devils hung on to complete the sweep, taking the second game 3-2.
Cornell only managed to score two goals in both its games against an Arizona State defense that entered the weekend allowing 3.85 goals per game, the fourth worst mark in the nation. Brady finished Sunday night with 34 saves on 36 shots.
The weekend marked the first time the Red has lost back to back games since it lost on Feb. 16 and Feb. 22 in 2019.
Cornell will look to get back in the win column during a difficult series against No. 5 North Dakota that begins on Friday in Grand Forks, North Dakota.