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After falling to Colgate, 3-2, in Hamilton on Friday night, Cornell ended a disappointing weekend with a 2-2 tie and a shootout loss when it hosted the Raiders on Saturday night. Cornell (13-6-4, 8-4-4 ECAC) finished the weekend with just one point against its upstate rival.
The tie extended Cornell’s winless streak to five games. The Red has not won in regulation since Jan. 15.
“The difference between winning and losing is just so small,” said senior tri-captain Kyle Betts. “Right now it just feels like that extra play or that one extra block is missing. It’s tough at the time, but the positive is that it’s fixable, and we’ll keep working day in and day out to get to that point.”
Cornell set itself up in a great position to snap its skid, jumping out to a 2-0 lead early in the second period. The Red allowed Colgate (10-14-3, 5-7-3 ECAC) to score two unanswered goals in the last 12 minutes of the period, and neither team broke the deadlock in the third or overtime.
“We need to get one of those wins that comes down to the wire but you find a way to get it done,” Betts said. “I think a win like that really propels a team and gives you confidence again. Tonight I thought it was going to happen for us, but unfortunately it didn’t.”
The tie was made especially frustrating by a shootout loss – the third consecutive tie and shootout loss at Lynah.
“We’re 0-4 in shootouts right now. That’s not good,” Associate Head Coach Ben Syer said. “That’s a frustrating way to end a game…but it’s the same for each team in the league, so you can’t complain about it.”
A strong first period allowed Cornell to take a 1-0 lead into the intermission, but the Red missed power play opportunities that would have given it commanding control of the game.
Four minutes in, senior forward Liam Motley’s shot from the slot was saved by Colgate’s Mitch Benson, but the puck bounced off his pad to the stick of junior forward Jack Malone, who converted on the rebound, putting Cornell ahead, 1-0.
“It was a great start,” Malone said. “It’s nice to try to get one early and build momentum off that.”
After killing a delay of game penalty midway through the period, the Red got two chances to extend its lead on the power play. After going 0-4 on the power play Friday night, Cornell’s struggles continued in the first period of Saturday’s game. The Red did not record a shot on goal during either of its two first period power plays.
Those woes ended early in the second period. The Red took advantage of a slashing call on Colgate and scored on the power play with 14:34 to go in the second. Sophomore forward Kyle Penney set up junior forward Matt Stienburg with a tape-to-tape feed that Stienburg easily tapped in to give Cornell a 2-0 lead.
The Red’s lead started to slip away when Cornell allowed the Raiders to score on a power play of their own with just under 12 minutes left in the period. Syer challenged the goal for a potential offsides call, but the goal stood after a lengthy review.
“Special teams has definitely been killing us lately,” Betts said. “The penalty kill gave up another goal tonight, and that kind of swung momentum.”
Cornell had opportunities to regain its two goal lead, but came up short. Freshman defenseman Michael Suda, playing in his first game at Lynah, rang the crossbar with 10 minutes remaining. A few minutes later, sophomore forward Zach Bramwell narrowly missed out on his first collegiate goal in his first game.
With Cornell’s lines ravaged by injuries, Suda and Bramwell both saw their first consistent stretches of game action this week. Junior defenseman Peter Muzyka made his collegiate debut on Saturday. The newcomers filled in for junior forward Ben Berard, senior forward Max Andreev, freshman forward Kyler Kovich and senior defenseman Cody Haiskanen, all of whom were out due to injuries.
“I think the guys who have come in for the injured guys have done a really good job,” Betts said. “All those guys that haven’t really seen much time in the first half came in and did a great job, played Cornell hockey and did the things that we needed them to do to give us a chance to win.”
With Cornell unable to regain firm control of the game, the Raiders drew even with just under two minutes left in the second period. A turnover by the Red in its defensive zone set Colgate up to score and brought the game to a 2-2 deadlock.
“All of a sudden we get away from things a bit, and boom we get scored on. It takes momentum away,” Syer said. “We can’t do that. There’s certain things that make us successful, and if we get away from them, it leaves things to chance. You have to stay on those details every single shift.
Each team had a power play in the first half of the third period, but neither scored. The teams skated for a long stretch of neck-and-neck play, with Cornell taking eight shots in the first 12 minutes of the final frame and Colgate taking seven.
Cornell had a series of chances at even strength, including a wild sequence with just over five minutes left. The puck slipped around in the crease and slot, but Cornell could not find a lane to shoot before the play was blown dead after Benson was knocked over.
With 1:45 left in the third, the Red was sent to yet another power play after a holding call on Colgate but despite the golden opportunity, Cornell could not convert. The Red failed to notch a shot on yet another power play, sending the game to overtime.
For the third consecutive game at Lynah, overtime did not decide the game’s outcome. Neither team scored and the game ended in a tie. Cornell lost its fourth shootout of the year and ended the weekend with one point.
“We had an opportunity, but we’re not getting it done. That’s a huge frustration for the guys, for the staff for the entire program,” Syer said. “It’s a matter of fighting tooth and nail to dig yourself out of that. There’s some really good things to take away from tonight, and it can be quickly dismissed because of a shootout loss. But a loss is still a loss.”
The disappointing weekend sets up an important road trip next week. Cornell’s 26 points put it five points ahead of both of next weekend’s opponents, RPI and Union. Cornell currently sits in fourth place in the ECAC standings, which would make it the last team to get a first round bye in the ECAC playoffs. Losses next weekend would put that position in serious jeopardy.
“It’s going to take effort and work and determination to get out of this stitch that we’re in,” Malone said. “I think once we get that first bounce back win we’ll be rolling again.”
The Red will look for that win on Friday night against RPI in Troy.