After a stellar 21-save shutout for sophomore goaltender Ian Shane and a takedown of No. 1 Quinnipiac, No. 16 Cornell (12-6-1, 9-3 ECAC) looked to ride the momentum into its final regular season matchup against Ivy rival, Princeton (10-11, 6-9 ECAC).
The special teams were what made the difference in the 3-2 win over the Tigers. All three of Cornell’s goals came on the man advantage.
“The power play carried the day,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86.
The opening minutes were evenly contested with great saves on both ends, including a point blank shot from the slot that was smothered by Shane. Play shifted in Cornell’s favor when Princeton committed a holding penalty in the first period. The Red broke the ice 33 seconds into the power play when junior forward Gabriel Seger flawlessly tipped senior defenseman Sam Malinski’s wrist shot into the top corner of the net.
Despite some key saves by Shane in the closing minutes of the first, the Red could not finish the period unscathed, as Princeton’s Pito Walton collected his own rebound and fired it over a sprawling Shane.
With the game tied at one goal apiece, the second period once again brought more special teams action and quality saves from both netminders.
Princeton went on the power play for the first time after sophomore defenseman Hank Kempf was called for holding. Immediately after killing the penalty, Cornell was awarded their second power play. The Red applied pressure, but the score remained tied as time expired.
The Red once again went on the power play after a hooking call on the Tigers. Cornell’s persistence paid off when freshman forward Sean Donaldson broke the 1-1 tie with just under five minutes remaining in the period. Donaldson wristed a shot over the shoulder of Princeton goaltender Ethan Pearson for his third goal of the season.
But the Tigers were not done: similar to the 1st period, Princeton sustained a long offensive zone shift and figured out Shane; this time after junior forward Jack O’Leary took a slashing penalty. A cross-crease pass was tapped in by Princeton forward Liam Gorman with just over two minutes remaining in the period.
Cornell entered the third period tied once again. However, the Red was able to convert on its fourth power play of the evening with a goal by freshman forward Dalton Bancroft. It was Bancroft’s second goal of the weekend as he scored against Quinnipiac the night prior.
Special teams remained a consistent theme in the third when Bancroft and Princeton’s Mike Kennedy took coinciding minor penalties, for cross-checking and embellishment, respectively. The Red dominated possession but could not pull away from its opponent.
Despite some late offensive zone pressure by the Tigers after pulling their goaltender, Shane and the Cornell defense, including senior defenseman Travis Mitchell who blocked a final second shot, stood tall and came out with the win.
“Probably the best defense we played was the last seven minutes of the game,” Schafer said.
All three Cornell goals being power play goals meant a lot since Princeton has one of the toughest penalty kills in the ECAC. They are No. 1 in the conference and No. 5 in the nation with five total shorthanded goals.
“They’re a tough team. They move their feet, they work hard in the corners,” said Malinski. “[And it cost us] a couple times, not being as disciplined as we need to be with our sticks and we just can’t be taking stick penalties throughout any game because it’ll end up breaking the game or changing the whole pace in momentum”.
Both goaltenders had solid showings. Shane made 27 saves in the win, while Pearson finished with 24.