This story has been updated.
After a trying six game road trip to start the season, men’s hockey returned to Lynah to host Yale in its home opener on Friday night. The Red rode a lopsided second period to a commanding 5-2 victory over the Bulldogs.
“You could sense the energy in the crowd tonight,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “The crowd was here early tonight, which I was really excited about.”
During the first period media timeout, Schafer was honored on the video board for reaching 500 career wins. It was the team’s first home game since he reached the milestone.
Cornell (3-4, 3-2 ECAC) benefitted from the energy of a packed Lynah in the first period. An effective forecheck and quick clears in the defensive zone fueled Cornell to an early 7-1 lead in shots on goal.
“A big strength of our team is that we hunt,” said freshman forward Nick DeSantis. “We hunt on the forecheck, we don’t give teams a lot of time and space to break pucks out.”
The early dominance in possession did not translate to the scoreboard until the final minute of the period when senior forward Zach Tupker poked a cross-crease feed from senior forward Matt Stienburg in and put the Red in front, 1-0.
The Red pulled away from the Bulldogs (1-6, 1-6 ECAC) in the second period. Four different skaters scored for Cornell in a second period in which Yale only managed four shots.
Junior forward Gabe Seger extended Cornell’s lead early in the second period. A minute and a half later, the Red’s lead grew to 3-0 after Tupker notched his second of the night on a feed from freshman forward Sean Donaldson.
“Zach’s been playing awesome,” Schafer said. “He’s been absolutely outstanding in how he’s playing. He’s under control, he’s not taking penalties, he’s playing with poise, he’s moving his feet. He’s doing all the things we expect from him and I’m really glad to see it’s paying dividends.”
The Red scored on both its power play chances in the second period. Six and a half minutes in, freshman forward Dalton Bancroft scored his first collegiate goal when he redirected senior defenseman Travis Mitchell’s shot on a power play.
With three minutes left in the period, DeSantis extended the Red’s lead to 5-0 with a power play goal through Yale’s Connor Hopkins’ five-hole. The goal was DeSantis’ second of the season and his first at Lynah.
“I couldn’t even hear myself think it was so loud,” DeSantis said. “It was good to get one there.”
The Bulldogs ended sophomore goaltender Ian Shane’s shutout bid with seven minutes left in the game on a five-on-three power play. Stienburg and sophomore forward Ondrej Psenicka took penalties in quick succession, which gave the Bulldogs a nearly two-minute long two man advantage.
“We took our foot off the gas pedal a bit in the third,” Schafer said. “It was going pretty well until we took a stupid penalty. Once we took one stupid penalty, we confounded it by taking another one.”
Tupker, senior defenseman Sam Malinski and senior defenseman Sebastian Dirven killed about a minute and a half of the power play before Yale finally fired a shot over Shane’s glove to cut Cornell’s lead to 5-1.
“We talked about it between periods, we do not want to expend any energy killing penalties,” Schafer said. “Well not only did we expend energy, we gave up a goal.”
Yale pulled within three with three minutes left in the contest with a slap shot from the point that snuck through Shane’s five-hole.
That was as close as the Red would allow the game to get. Yale never pulled its goalie and Cornell closed out the 5-2 victory.
Cornell will look to complete a six-point weekend Saturday night against Brown. Last weekend, the Red scored five goals in a Friday night win before going cold on Saturday night.
“We’ve just got to find what we were successful with tonight and relay it to tomorrow,” DeSantis said.