No. 14 Cornell completed an impressive road sweep against No. 5 North Dakota, winning the second game of the series, 3-1.
The win capped off a big turnaround for the Red (11-3-1, 6-1-1 ECAC) after it suffered a two-game sweep at the hands of Arizona State last weekend.
The Fighting Hawks (13-8, 8-2 NCHC) struck first, scoring on a power play just two minutes into the game. Riese Gaber sniped a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle over the glove of freshman goaltender Ian Shane to put North Dakota ahead, 1-0.
After allowing a goal on the first shot of the night, Shane saved the next 32 shots he saw to round out his second collegiate start.
Cornell got a chance on the power play just past the 16 minute mark. In the middle of the Red’s man advantage, North Dakota was awarded a penalty shot after Mark Senden was tripped up with a clear path to the net. Shane came up big on the stop, patiently waiting for Senden to shoot and making a pad save to keep the hosts from taking a two-goal lead.
The Red evened things up just past the 13 minute mark, when junior forward Zach Tupker found his brother Ben Tupker with a feed from below the goal line. The latter Tupker’s shot was saved, but freshman forward Kyler Kovich collected the rebound and buried it to even things up at 1-1.
Each time had an opportunity on the power play with the score knotted at one, but neither team could break the tie on the man advantage.
Cornell pulled ahead with 3:21 to go when freshman defenseman Hank Kempf launched a shot from the point and freshman forward Ondrej Psenicka deflected it off the post and into the net to give the Red a 2-1 lead.
Cornell maintained its edge throughout the second period, which saw a power play opportunity for both teams, but no change in score.
The Red opened the third period by killing off a wraparound penalty from the waning seconds of the second period. With 18 minutes to play and Cornell leading by one, North Dakota ramped up its offensive pressure. The Fighting Hawks took five shots in the first six minutes of the third, but Shane stopped them all.
North Dakota kept up the pressure, but Cornell got some breathing room with just under eight minutes left when senior tri-captain Brenden Locke buried North Dakota native Cody Haiskanen’s rebound, giving Cornell a 3-1 lead and Haiskanen an assist in his homecoming.
The Fighting Hawks opted to pull their goaltender in favor of an extra attacker with 3:30 left. Cornell has struggled against an extra attacker this season, including when it allowed Clarkson to score three times in the final minutes of the game to complete a comeback back in December.
After that game, Head Coach Mike Schafer ’86 blamed himself for not preparing the team to face an extra attacker. Cornell fared much better against the extra attacker against North Dakota. Schafer was out with illness on Saturday night, but with Associate Head Coach Ben Syer behind the bench, the Red managed to prevent North Dakota from coming back.
The win marked the end of Cornell’s non-conference schedule. The Red will hope to ride the momentum from the sweep into its contests with Yale and Brown next weekend.