This story has been updated.
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TROY, N.Y. – With a narrow lead on fifth place in the ECAC standings, men’s hockey started an important weekend in the Capitol District on Friday night against RPI.
Cornell jumped out to a 2-1 lead, but did not score after the first period and allowed five unanswered goals in a 6-2 defeat.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” said Associate Head Coach Ben Syer. “I don’t know how else to say it.”
Cornell outshot the Engineers 41-19. It was the fifth time Cornell has outshot its opponent on its now six game winless streak.
“When you’re outshooting a team 41-19, usually that’s a good gameplan,” a frustrated Syer said. “Unfortunately, tonight it wasn’t good enough.”
After allowing the Engineers (13-17-3, 8-9 ECAC) to score first, Cornell (13-7-4, 8-5-4 ECAC) bounced back and took a lead into the first intermission.
RPI started the scoring with 11:45 remaining in the first when Ture Linden received a pass in front of freshman goaltender Joe Howe and snuck the puck around Howe’s pads to give the Engineers a 1-0 lead.
Howe started in place of fellow freshman Ian Shane, who missed Friday night’s game and did not travel with the team this weekend because he was sick. Shane had started the last 10 games for Cornell. Friday night was Howe’s first action since Jan. 1 against Arizona State.
Howe finished with 13 saves on 17 shots.
After falling behind, the Red stormed back with two goals to end the period. Senior forward Max Andreev, in his return from injury after missing the last seven games, put Cornell on the board with seven minutes left. Andreev made a nifty move to lose his defender along the boards, skated out to the faceoff circle and fired a shot past RPI’s Jack Watson to even the score at 1-1.
Just under four minutes later, Cornell was given a big opportunity after RPI was called for a five minute major penalty. Despite its recent struggles on special teams, the Red capitalized in the first period on Friday. Junior forward Ben Berard redirected a shot from senior forward Brenden Locke into the net to give Cornell a 2-1 lead.
“We played well in the first period and needed to play that well continuously throughout the game,” Syer said. “We got away from that a little bit.”
Like Andreev, Berard has missed time recently due to injury.
“It was great to have all those guys back,” Syer said. “It’s still frustrating to have the same outcome.”
Cornell relinquished its lead in the second period. The Engineers scored midway through the second period to even things up and scored again with three and a half minutes left in the period on a power play to take a 3-2 lead.
Cornell had a stretch of sharp play to open the third, pressing to a 9-2 lead in shots in the first half of the period. A lot of that edge can be attributed to a strong power play shift in the first few minutes of the period, but Watson made a series of nice saves to keep the Engineers ahead.
The Red’s momentum was killed by a lengthy review right before the media timeout. The Engineers came out of the media timeout and quickly extended their lead to 4-2 when Ture Linden beat Howe on a breakaway with nine and a half minutes left.
“The [long timeout] didn’t help,” Syer said. “It was tough because we were buzzing pretty good at the time.”
Despite a five minute major power play at the end of the game, Cornell could not cut into RPI’s lead. Cornell had a few of what Syer called “grade A chances,” but came up empty. Junior forward Matt Stienburg hit the post for the second time of the game and Berard fanned on a one-timer look at an open net. Instead, the Engineers scored twice on Cornell’s empty net to secure a 6-2 victory.
Cornell is back in action Saturday night at Union.