This story has been updated.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — After suffering a sweep at Arizona State and then bouncing back to sweep North Dakota on a two week road trip, No. 9 Cornell returned to the east coast, and to ECAC competition, on Saturday night against Yale.
The Red (12-3-1, 7-1-1 ECAC) rode the momentum from its sweep last weekend into an empty Ingalls Rink, cruising to a 3-0 victory against the Bulldogs (3-10-0, 2-7-0 ECAC).
The game was originally scheduled for Friday night, but was postponed earlier in the week. On Friday, the league announced that Cornell’s game against Brown, which was originally scheduled for Saturday night, would be replaced by Yale due to COVID protocols in Brown’s program.
“Obviously you want to play all your games on the schedule,” Associate Head Coach Ben Syer said. “You don’t want to have weeks off when you don’t need to because guys like to play — keeps them sharp, keeps them fresh.”
Syer was filling in for Head Coach Mike Schafer ’86, who tested positive for COVID during the team’s trip to North Dakota.
“He’s starting to feel a little better, so I would imagine we’re going to see a lot more of him this week,” Syer said.
Despite the recent travel and disruptions, Cornell played a clean game, smothering the Bulldogs on the defensive end and generating pressure on offense.
Cornell got off to a strong start and never looked back. After putting a lot of pressure on Yale’s defense, the Red got on the board five and a half minutes into the contest when junior forward Zach Tupker drove to the net and set up an opportunity for his twin brother Ben, who scored to put Cornell ahead 1-0.
Cornell was forced to kill two penalties after taking the lead. The first came two and a half minutes after Tupker’s goal when freshman forward Justin Ertel was sent to the box for interference.
A minute and a half after the Red killed Ertel’s penalty, junior defenseman Sam Malinski was nabbed for goaltender interference. Once again, Cornell’s penalty kill kept Yale off the board.
“Certain parts of the kill tonight we did very well, but I also thought we were a little loose at times not getting pucks out of our zone when we had an opportunity to,” Syer said.
The Red turned the momentum from its two kills into a two goal lead when sophomore forward Kyle Penney cut across the slot and beat the goaltender to score with just over four minutes left in the first to put Cornell ahead 2-0.
Cornell took its two goal lead into the first intermission. Five and a half minutes into the second period, junior forward Jack Malone sniped a shot over the Yale netminder’s shoulder to put Cornell ahead 3-0.
Neither team scored again in the period, despite Cornell having a minute long 5-on-3 opportunity at the end of the period.
Cornell’s defense was especially strong, holding the Bulldogs to just five shots in each of the first two frames.
Behind the defense, freshman goaltender Ian Shane had another phenomenal performance, finishing with 18 saves and earning his first career shutout.
“Obviously it’s really exciting,” Shane said of the milestone. “My team did a great job of covering me, they let me see the puck. They really did everything I could’ve asked of them in that game.”
After not seeing playing time in the team’s first 12 games, Shane abruptly made his debut late in the first period of the team’s Jan. 2 game against Arizona State. Since then, Shane has allowed just four goals on 100 shots and has started the team’s last three games.
“I think at the start of the year there was a little bit of an adjustment period for me,” Shane said. “Once I got everything under my belt, it’s just about playing hockey again.”
Shane grew up in Manhattan Beach, California, and his collegiate debut occurred in the NCAA’s closest rink to his hometown at Arizona State’s Oceanside Ice Arena.
“It’s actually a rink I played at as a kid before,” Shane said. “It’s not necessarily a homecoming, but it was really fun to play in that rink and a really cool place to get my first game.”
Despite Shane’s dominant start, Syer said none of the team’s three goalies has won the position.
“I think that’s still something that’s a process here as we keep going,” Syer said. “But obviously [Shane]’s strung a couple good games together here.”
Assuming Shane’s recent success earns him a start next weekend, it will be his first regular season action at Lynah Rink.
“I’m excited to get to experience that atmosphere and get my first chance to play in front of the Lynah Faithful,” Shane said.
Shane wrapped up his shutout in the third period, keeping Yale off the board on two more opportunities on the power play in the middle of the frame. The Bulldogs generated more pressure than in the first two periods, shooting eight times in the third, but Shane stood tall down the stretch.
The victory capped off a 5-2-1 road trip for the Red. Cornell returns to Lynah Rink for the first time in two months to face Princeton next Friday at 7 p.m.