Men’s hockey mounted a comeback in the third period to defeat Sacred Heart, 2-1, at Lynah on Tuesday night.
The Red (5-4, 4-2 ECAC) came out slow against the Pioneers (6-6-1, 6-3-1 AHA). Sacred Heart did not concede many opportunities out of the gate and scored a goal midway through the first period.
“Tough start,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “We didn’t play physical or win battles. They outworked us [in the first period.]”
Facing a one goal deficit, Cornell increased its intensity in the second period. The Red got to pucks quickly and generated more chances in its offensive zone.
“We got it going in the second period,” Schafer said. “When you haven’t played well and you’re down a goal, you’re gonna find out a lot about yourself as a team. They just kept plugging away… I was very proud of them that no panic set in.”
The Red outshot Sacred Heart 17-4 in the second period, but could not find an equalizer.
Entering the third period in search of its first comeback win of the season, the Red kept its foot on the gas.
“You really can’t get more aggressive than we were already,” Schafer said. “I think that more urgency hits.”
The aggression and urgency paid off two minutes into the third period when freshman forward Sean Donaldson brought the puck to the net and assisted junior forward Kyle Penney’s equalizer.
“In the third period we made a couple great plays to create offense,” Schafer said. “Donaldson bringing it right to the net… I thought that was outstanding.”
The Red pulled in front with seven and a half minutes left in the game when freshman forward Dalton Bancroft beat his defender and made a nice pass to sophomore forward Sullivan Mack, who scored to put Cornell in front.
“Dalton Bancroft, what can you say,” Schafer said. “Outstanding play, not only to beat the guy, I think everybody anticipated he would shoot, but then to slide it over to [Mack] to make it 2-1.”
The Pioneers pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker with two minutes left.
A blocked shot by senior forward Ben Berard and some big saves by sophomore goaltender Ian Shane preserved the Red’s lead until the final horn. Shane made 17 saves in the contest.
The comeback win could prove to be valuable experience for the Red as it enters a tough stretch before winter break.
“Until you face adversity… you never know how you’re going to handle it until it’s right in your face,” Schafer said. “It’s a good step for us to know that we stuck to the process, we stuck together, there was no panic and we just plowed ahead and changed the game. That’s a good sign.”
Cornell returns to action on Saturday night against No. 6 UConn at Madison Square Garden in New York City.