This story has been updated.
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For the second Friday in a row, No. 8 men’s hockey welcomed the last place team in the ECAC to Lynah Rink. After suffering an upset loss to Princeton last Friday, Cornell was determined not to underestimate Dartmouth as it prepares to face Harvard tomorrow night.
“On paper we’re kind of expected to [beat Princeton], but I think that’s the problem: looking at the records and going into it and underestimating your opponent,” said senior tri-captain Cody Haiskanen earlier this week.
Dartmouth (3-12-3, 2-8-2 ECAC) proved to be a formidable opponent, holding a lead late into the third period and forcing Cornell (13-4-2, 8-2-2 ECAC) to settle for a 2-2 tie. The Red lost the shootout and finished with one league point.
The Big Green gave Cornell fits on the Red’s offensive end. Cornell outshot Dartmouth 32-13, and Dartmouth blocked 15 of Cornell’s shots.
“I think what it came down to was not bearing down on opportunities,” said junior forward Jack Malone. “We had too many shots to only come away with two [goals].”
Dartmouth successfully shut down what have been two of Cornell’s biggest sources of goals this season – rebounds and shots from the point that get redirected. The Big Green clogged the middle and did not let shots get to the net, and when Cornell did get pucks through, Dartmouth’s Clay Stevenson swallowed them up without allowing rebounds.
“It’s definitely frustrating sometimes when things aren’t going your way,” Malone said. “When things like that are happening when you’re playing the right way, and you’re not getting bounces, you can’t really deviate from what you’re doing … We just have to stick to it.”
While Cornell’s normal strategies were unsuccessful, the Red had a hard time turning to new approaches to generate offense.
“You have to manufacture [opportunities],” said Associate Head Coach Ben Syer. “You have to create more of a net presence, so you can create some scrambles and opportunities. I thought [Stevenson] did an unbelievable job of seeing pucks through traffic when we did have traffic.”
Freshman forward Sullivan Mack had an opportunity with a one-on-one with Stevenson at the end of the first period, but Stevenson came up with the save.
“I thought he was a little deep in his crease, so I went for the shot, but just didn’t quite put it where I wanted,” Mack said.
Mack’s line gave Cornell some of its best chances to generate chances through evasive moves and shifty cuts.
“Brenden Locke and [Malone] are also pretty evasive players, so that’s kind of how we create offense,” Mack said. “Tonight was about getting pucks up to the point and getting them back down to the net, and I think we’ve got to do a better job of that.”
Cornell also missed costly opportunities on the power play. Last Saturday, the Red went 2-3 on the power play against the nation’s best penalty killing unit in Quinnipiac. On Friday night, Cornell scored one goal during 25 minutes on the power play.
“We wanted to get pucks moving and get pucks to the middle, and we weren’t able to do that initially,” Syer said.
The top power play line, anchored by Malone, junior forward Matt Stienburg and junior forward Ben Berard, generated some chances on their opportunities in the third period.
“As much power play time as we got, we’ve got to find a way to capitalize more,” Malone said.
The Red’s lone power play goal came at an opportune moment, as Malone tied the game with just over two minutes remaining during a five minute major power play.
“We couldn’t get much through, a lot of frustration throughout the night, and then we put one in, and it’s a big moment,” Malone said. “My first thought when that went in was, ‘We’ve got some more time on the power play, and we have to finish this thing. The game’s not over.’”
Malone’s equalizer prevented Cornell from suffering another upset loss, but the Red could not fully recover from its early struggles and was unable to take the lead.
Like in last week’s game with Princeton, the lesser opponent on paper struck first in Friday night’s game. Haiskanen took a tripping penalty just before the 14 minute mark of the first period, which sent Dartmouth to the night’s first power play. The Big Green capitalized with 12:36 remaining when Ian Pierce buried a rebound that had bounced out to the slot to give Dartmouth a 1-0 lead.
Unlike in its game against Princeton, where Cornell allowed its opponent to jump out to a 3-0 lead, the Red did not allow Dartmouth to extend its lead after conceding the game’s first goal.
“It’s a matter of finding that urgency, that willingness to be able to thrust ahead and get over the hump,” Syer said.
Cornell’s best opportunities to get even came on three second period power plays. The Red failed to record a shot on its first try, and it missed its biggest opportunity after Stienburg could not connect on a one-timer on its second power play. The man advantage unit came its closest to scoring on its last chance of the period when Malone took a shot from the circle that rang the pipe, but it bounced out.
Despite the lack of success on the power play, Cornell evened things up past the eight minute mark in the second when freshman forward Justin Ertel snuck a puck through the crease to freshman forward Ondrej Psenicka, who knocked it in to tie the game at 1-1.
Dartmouth responded quickly. Two minutes after Psenicka’s goal, the Big Green regained the lead after a shot from behind the circle changed directions in traffic and caught freshman goaltender Ian Shane out of position. Dartmouth’s Mark Gallant buried his look at the open portion of the net to put the Big Green ahead 2-1.
Still in search of the equalizer, the Red had a strong start to the third period. Cornell took eight of the period’s first 10 shots, including a series of shots on a power play at the 16 minute mark. The Red’s first power play line had a long possession with a series of good looks, but nothing made it past Stevenson.
Cornell got its fifth power play of the night with 10:37 left, but came up empty yet again after four saves by Stevenson.
Stevenson and Dartmouth’s defense thwarted Cornell all night, but especially during the third period. Cornell outshot Dartmouth 15-3 during the first 15 minutes of the third period and had plenty of additional shots that were blocked or went wide.
With five minutes remaining, Stienburg took a hard hit into the boards. After a lengthy review, the officials assessed Dartmouth a five minute major penalty, which sent Cornell up a man for just about the rest of regulation.
Cornell had a slow start to its five-minute, all-you-can-eat power play but found the equalizer with 2:22 when Malone snuck a one-timer past Stevenson’s blocker.
Despite another two minutes on the power play, Cornell could not find the game-winner during the final minutes of regulation.
For the second game in a row, the Red took to the ice for a three-on-three overtime period. Unlike Saturday’s game against Quinnipiac, when Cornell won on a game winner with 16 seconds left, neither team scored in overtime, and the game ended in a tie.
Under the league’s new rules, the teams competed in a shootout for an extra league point. Dartmouth eked out the shootout win to take two league points.
While the result is a tie, players said it felt like a loss.
“It 100% [feels like a loss],” Malone said. “We lost. It definitely feels like a punch in the gut.”
Cornell will have a quick turnaround before playing Harvard tomorrow night.
“I don’t think any of the guys in the [locker] room are happy right now,” Mack said. “We know the way we can play. We showed it last weekend against Quinnipiac.”
Last week, Cornell bounced back from a tough Friday night loss and beat then No. 1 Quinnipiac on Saturday.
“I think we’ve got to reset. We can’t let this one linger,” Malone said. “Tomorrow’s a game that’s been circled on the calendar since the beginning of the year. Everyone looks forward to this game and we can’t let a game like tonight affect how we’re going to play tomorrow.”
Cornell will look for a full three points against its archrival tomorrow night at 7 p.m.