No. 14 Cornell came to Grand Forks, North Dakota, where temperatures hit 30 below zero on Friday morning and reached 1 degree by puck drop, with hopes of stopping the bleeding after being swept by Arizona State in the desert last weekend.
The Red (10-3-1, 6-1-1 ECAC) came up with a big comeback victory, defeating No. 5 North Dakota (13-7, 8-2 NCHC) 4-3, behind three unanswered goals in the third period.
The Red initially struggled to generate pressure on both ends of the ice, allowing the Fighting Hawks to spend long possessions in their offensive zone and failing to consistently challenge North Dakota’s Zach Driscoll.
Long periods of back and forth action to start the game eventually resulted in a 5-4 lead in shots for Cornell. In the final seven and a half minutes of the first, however, Cornell failed to generate a shot and allowed the Fighting Hawks to take the lead.
North Dakota struck first with four and a half minutes left, after a crisp pass in front of freshman goaltender Ian Shane set up North Dakota captain Mark Sended with a one timer that beat Shane to his stick side.
The goal came after the Fighting Hawks briefly allowed the puck to slip into the neutral zone, prompting Cornell’s defensemen to go for a change. North Dakota beat the new line into the zone, setting up a clear path to the goal.
After stopping all 23 shots he saw last Sunday, Shane earned the start in net for Cornell. In his first career start, Shane finished with 23 saves on 26 shots. In the first period, he broke Matthew Galajda’s record for most consecutive saves to start a career (27), before allowing his first goal after making 29 straight saves.
Cornell answered after the intermission with a power play goal. The Red went on the man advantage just past the 18-minute mark after a tripping call. Junior defenseman Sam Malinski took advantage, patiently waiting for a shot in front of the blue line and then wristing one in from the point to even things up at 1-1.
The Red generated just two more shots during the second period, and allowed North Dakota to pull ahead on a power play goal with just over five minutes left in the period. North Dakota’s Ashton Calder split Cornell’s defense, skating right by junior defenseman Sebastian Dirven and North Dakota native Cody Haiskanen, before going five-hole on Shane to put the Fighting Hawks up 2-1.
Trailing by a goal, Cornell ramped up the pressure to start the third period. The Red had a few quality opportunities, but Driscoll made tricky saves to prevent Cornell from scoring. After a long stint in the offensive zone, North Dakota finally gained possession and took the puck the other way.
Dirven accidentally poked a North Dakota skater in the facemask in the neutral zone, drawing a penalty. Before Cornell could take possession and stop play, the Fighting Hawks’ Jake Sanderson brought the puck into the zone and set up Jake Schmaltz, who fired the puck past Shane from the slot to put North Dakota ahead 3-1.
The Red killed Dirven’s delayed penalty, and with just under 12 minutes left, went to work chipping away at its two-goal deficit.
Cornell turned around after the kill and scored three unanswered goals in a five minute span to take the lead.
With 10 and a half minutes left, Cornell cut into North Dakota’s lead when sophomore forward Jack O’Leary took a rebound off the back glass and poked the puck in for his first career goal — bringing the game to 3-2.
Three minutes later, O’Leary sent a pass slightly behind senior forward Max Andreev, who spun around to receive the puck and fired it past Driscoll to even the score at 3-3.
Less than two minutes later, Malinski launched a shot from the right point, but Driscoll’s pad kept it out of the goal. The puck landed in front of the crease, where freshman forward Kyler Kovich scooped it up and put it in the net to give Cornell a 4-3 lead.
Cornell was the beneficiary of a big call when North Dakota’s Louis Jamernik was given a five minute major for boarding with 3:58 left to play. The Red went to work on with a one-goal lead and a man advantage, and managed to prevent North Dakota from pulling its goalie until there was 1:17 remaining.
The Fighting Hawks finally managed to get Driscoll to the bench to even things up at five on five. The closest Cornell came to scoring on the empty net was a long clear from Shane that sailed all the way down the ice but went a few feet wide of the net.
With 17 seconds left, Andreev collided with North Dakota’s Jake Sanderson and was assessed a five minute major. After two faceoffs in Cornell’s defensive zone, senior tricaptain Kyle Betts cleared the puck down the ice past a cheering Cornell bench and the Red wrapped up the 4-3 victory.
The win was a huge road victory for Cornell against one of the country’s best teams. After falling to 26th in the Pairwise rankings last weekend, Cornell improved to 18th following the victory. The win also prevented Cornell from suffering its first three game losing streak since January 2016.
Cornell will go for the sweep of North Dakota Saturday night at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.