Men’s hockey eked out a 3-2 win over Colgate at Lynah on Friday in the first night of a two game, home-and-home series with the Raiders.
The Red played a somewhat sloppy game, but was able to hang on to a lead generated by a spurt of offense at the start of the second period. Despite the win, head coach Mike Schafer ’86 was not pleased with his team’s performance.
“You don’t win many games when you play that way,” Schafer said. “We were fortunate.”
Cornell’s troubles started with a rough first period on special teams. The Red came up empty on three power play chances in the first period and took two close penalties that set Colgate up with a five-on-three. Cornell came into the night with the best power play in the nation.
“Our power play heard so much about how good they were – they wouldn’t move the puck tonight to save their life,” Schafer said.
Cornell found itself in a hole after sophomore defenseman Hank Kempf and senior defenseman Sam Malinski were sent to the box within a minute of each other, handing the Raiders a two-man advantage for over a minute.
“We were a little bit undisciplined out of the gate,” said junior forward Kyle Penney. “I think everybody was a little bit too fired up and we kind of lost a little bit of focus. We refocused in between the first and the second period and kind of cleaned that up.”
Colgate cashed in on its opportunity when Ethan Manderville gathered a rebound off sophomore goaltender Ian Shane and tapped it in from the top of the crease.
“We dodged a bullet,” Schafer said. “We didn’t play well in the first, we took undisciplined penalties.”
While the Red was unable to get much going offensively in the opening period, the momentum quickly shifted in its favor to start the second. Cornell got on the board just 33 seconds into the period,when senior forward Zach Tupker crashed the net and slipped the puck past Colgate goalie Carter Gylander for an unassisted goal.
The Red wasted no time before its next tally – just 1:01 after Tupker’s goal, junior forward Kyle Penney gathered a rebound off the back wall below the goal line and snuck the puck between Gylander’s skate and the post.
“We’re huge on the shift after a goal being the biggest shift,” said Penney. “They’re going to want to come back and they play hard, but if we just keep going and keep the momentum building, then we’re gonna have success.”
Less than a minute and a half after Penney’s goal, sophomore forward Sullivan Mack extended Cornell’s lead to 3-1 with a quick wrist shot from the slot.
“When these guys have opportunities they can crank it up,” Schafer said. “Unfortunately, we cranked it up only for a short period of time. The things that we did that were really good for that short period of time, we stopped doing them.”
From there, it was all Shane and the Cornell defense. The Red stopped a couple of close Colgate chances and shut down a power play chance midway through the second period.
The Red’s stingy defensive play and forecheck continued into the third, where it was able to limit Colgate to just three shots on net. Despite the low volume, Colgate pulled within a goal with its second power play marker of the night just under halfway through the period. A tripping call on junior forward Jack O’Leary gave the Raiders the man advantage.
“One of the most undisciplined penalties I’ve seen taken in a long, long time,” Schafer said. “Effort and energy is one thing, but reckless and out of control is another… We’ve got enough things to worry about let alone self-inflicted wounds.”
Matt Verboon scored for the Raiders on a shot that was wristed quickly over the shoulder of Shane just a few seconds into the man advantage.
Colgate pulled its goaltender with just over a minute to go. The Cornell defense stood tall, not allowing Shane to see a shot.
The last 10 seconds of the game were a bit dramatic after confusion over whether senior forward Ben Berard made contact with the puck in the offensive zone. If he touched the puck it would have been offsides and there would have been a faceoff in the neutral zone. Instead, the referees determined he did not, and the puck was placed in Cornell’s defensive zone after an icing call.
Last year, Cornell’s season ended with a loss to Colgate in game three of the ECAC quarterfinals. In that game, a missed assignment on a defensive zone faceoff proved costly.
With nine seconds left and a defensive zone faceoff looming, Schafer had to take a timeout to organize his team and change lines. Colgate won the draw and Verboon managed to get a shot off, but senior defenseman Travis Mitchell got in its way, and Cornell held on for the narrow victory.
“Every day as a program, we want to be better, and we did not do that today,” Schafer said. “So yeah, is it a moral victory? It’s a great victory, but it’s not what we’re about. Lack of discipline, lack of focus.”
The Red will have an opportunity to sweep the Raiders on Saturday night in Hamilton. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m.