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After he made 33 saves on 34 shots against then No. 1 Quinnipiac in late January, The Sun asked freshman goaltender Ian Shane what he thought of the Bobcats’ nine goal game earlier that week.
“It just made me think they haven’t played us yet,” Shane replied.
On Friday night, with Cornell hunting for the final bye in the ECAC playoffs, Shane’s cool and calm demeanor led the Red to a big 1-0 victory over Quinnipiac in Hamden. Shane finished with a 42 save shutout.
Entering the final weekend of the season just three points ahead of fifth place in the ECAC standings, No. 18 Cornell needed at least a point on Friday night against No. 5 Quinnipiac to gain an opportunity to clinch a bye in the playoffs on Saturday.
The Red (16-8-4, 11-6-4 ECAC) got three, completing the season sweep of the Bobcats (27-5-3, 16-4-1 ECAC) with a 1-0 win.
The Bobcats entered the night with the best defense in the country, having allowed less than a goal per game and boasting a 93 percent success rate on the penalty kill. Earlier in the week, players anticipated a close, low-scoring game with the Bobcats.
“[We want] to shut the other team down and try to win the game 1-0,” said junior defenseman Sam Malinski. “We just need to play a patient and sound defensive game, and that’s where we’ll succeed the most.”
The two teams met in late January, when a pair of power play goals by junior forward Ben Berard gave Cornell a narrow 2-1 win in overtime.
On Friday night, Cornell once again used the power play to beat Quinnipiac’s star goaltender Yaniv Perets.
Quinnipiac was whistled for holding with just over 15 minutes remaining in the opening frame. With 14 minutes left, junior defenseman Travis Mitchell blasted a shot from the point. Junior forward Jack Malone redirected the shot on the doorstep, and the puck got past Perets to give Cornell a 1-0 lead.
Cornell killed off a penalty with seven and a half minutes left, and they kept Quinnipiac off the board for the rest of the period.
The Red rode an outstanding performance by Shane to a scoreless second period. Quinnipiac outshot Cornell 17-7 in the middle frame, but Shane made sensational saves to preserve Cornell’s lead.
Like the last time the teams met, Cornell took a 1-0 lead into the third period before giving up the equalizer with 15 minutes left. The Red shut down Quinnipiac in the third on Friday.
Cornell clung to its lead to open the third, clearing pucks out of its zone every chance it got. The Red held Quinnipiac to eight shots in the first fifteen minutes of the period, and Shane took care of the rest.
With 4:38 left in the game, senior forward Brenden Locke was called for a boarding penalty. The Bobcats opted to pull Perets, giving them a six-on-four.
Cornell came up with one of the biggest penalty kills of its season. Shane completed the kill with a flashy glove save.
Quinnipiac left the extra attacker out, but the Bobcats could not find the equalizer. Cornell hung on to close out the 1-0 win and earn a critical three points.
Colgate won its game with Princeton, so Cornell will head into the final day of the regular season with a three point lead for the final bye. If the Red gets a point against Princeton on Saturday, or if Colgate fails to beat Quinnipiac in regulation, Cornell will secure the fourth seed.