A late third-period push wasn’t enough as men’s hockey fell to Clarkson, 4-3, in a back-and-forth nail-biter.
“It was a crazy night,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86.
The Golden Knights handed the Red its first regulation loss at home and swept the season series.
The first period was evenly contested, with Cornell getting the first few opportunities of the contest before Clarkson retaliated.
The Golden Knights struck first, converting after a neutral zone turnover by the Red. Alex Campbell scored off of a cross-crease pass, a sequence too quick for sophomore goaltender Ian Shane. Clarkson controlled possession following its goal, recording the next few shots and prompting a couple of solid saves by Shane.
Minutes after Campbell’s tally, Clarkson goaltender Ethan Haider mishandled the puck behind his net. Freshman forward Winter Wallace quickly intercepted the pass and fed it to the slot for senior forward Jack Malone, who fired a one-timer that tied the game at one goal apiece.
The Red got an opportunity to take the lead early in the second period when Clarkson’s Brady Egan went off for boarding. While Cornell failed to convert on its power play, it dominated possession, keeping the puck in its offensive zone for nearly a minute and a half.
Cornell finally broke the tie when senior forward Ben Berard carried the puck down the ice and fired a quick wrist shot over the blocker of Haider.
The Red’s lead was brief. Halfway into the period, senior defenseman Travis Mitchell and junior defensemen Tim Rego coughed up the puck in the corner of their defensive zone, allowing a pass to the slot to reach Clarkson’s Ayrton Martino, who rocketed a shot past Shane.
The goal came after the Red failed to convert on its third power play of the game. The Red went one for five on the power play in the game.
“There were some chances that we had where we could’ve tied it up and taken the lead throughout the game,” Mitchell said. “We have to find ways to convert on our opportunities if we want to win.”
A pivotal moment came with just over five minutes to go in the period. Senior defenseman Sam Malinski laid a massive hit on Clarkson’s Chris Klack at center ice, who remained down for a few minutes. The hit was reviewed and ruled a five-minute major penalty on Malinski, as well as a game misconduct.
“He’s one of our best players,” Schafer said. “Losing him didn’t help –– some of our guys got a little bit tired back on the blue line.”
Clarkson regained the lead when it scored three minutes into the major penalty. Campbell secured his second goal of the game by poking a loose puck off the goal line after Shane lost sight of it. The goal was the start of a series of bad bounces and puck luck that ultimately resulted in the difference in the game.
“You’ve got to force your own luck,” Schafer said.
Cornell entered the third period looking to tie the game once again. Clarkson continued to keep the Red out of its net, with Haider making a couple of solid saves.
The Red earned its fourth power play opportunity when Tristan Sarsland went to the box for tripping. Cornell sent out a five-forward power play unit, with senior forward Max Andreev manning the point due to Malinski’s game misconduct.
“[Andreev] has had some experience back there in the past,” Schafer said. “I just thought that in this situation we could use him back there.”
After some good passing around the perimeter, Berard fired a low wrist shot past Haider, his second goal of the game.
Chaos began to strike not long after the Red’s third goal. In a play involving two players going for the puck, freshman forward Dalton Bancroft was sent off for a slashing penalty.
“Both [players] went to lift each other’s stick and their [player] broke the stick,” Schafer said, reflecting on the discussion he had with the referee after the penalty was called.
The call proved to be costly –– Clarkson took the lead for the third time on a power play goal by Martino, his second of the game. Martino’s first shot was initially stopped, but Shane was unable to control the rebound, which Martino quickly collected and buried it for the goal.
“We’ve got to make the save, and we’ve got to control the rebound,” Schafer said of the goal.
Shane finished the game with 15 saves on 19 shots. On the other end of the ice, Haider stopped 24 of 27 Cornell shots.
The Red continued to apply pressure, but was unable to find the equalizer. Both goaltenders continued to make key saves that kept the score unchanged.
Another pivotal moment came with a few minutes left in the third, when Bancroft gathered a Zach Tupker pass and had two prime opportunities, including one with an open net. The latter appeared to have gone in and garnered a reaction from the crowd, but ended up hitting the crossbar.
“It was clear that it was close, but it wasn’t in,” Schafer said.
The Red had a couple of excellent opportunities after pulling Shane with just over a minute left, including a one-timer by junior forward Jack O’Leary that was saved by the shaft of the stick of Haider. Ultimately, the Red was unable to tie the game for a third time.
Despite the loss, out of town results led to Cornell clinching a first-round bye in the ECAC playoffs. The Red dropped two spots in the Pairwise rankings––from 10th to 12th––which makes Saturday’s matchup against St. Lawrence and the final weekend against Yale and Brown, crucial.
“You’ve just got to turn the page,” Mitchell said. “Tonight is tonight and tomorrow we have the opportunity to come out and play a St. Lawrence team that’s been really good.”
Cornell will be back at Lynah Saturday night for the final time in the regular season against St. Lawrence. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m., and the game will be followed by a ceremony honoring the team’s 10 seniors.