Leilani Burke/Sun Staff Photgrapher

Cornell's second consecutive loss dealt a blow to its playoff chances.

February 19, 2023

Late Goal Sinks Men’s Hockey on Senior Night

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Men’s hockey lost its second game in a row on Saturday night, falling to St. Lawrence, 1-0.

Cornell (16-9-2, 13-6-1 ECAC) applied pressure in its offensive end throughout the night, but never found the back of the net. The Red outshot St. Lawrence (16-16, 11-9 ECAC) 28-17.

The Saints scored on a two-on-one in transition with 2:45 left in the game, and the Red never responded.

“It’s frustrating,” said associate head coach Ben Syer. “We had opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on. It was a tight game.”

The frustrating night began right away in the first period. Cornell controlled the pace, but could not figure out St. Lawrence’s Emil Zetterquist in the opening frame. Zetterquist made 12 saves in the first period, while the Red held the Saints to five shots.

“We were doing some different things and trying to get different looks. He made some great saves,” Syer said. “We just weren’t able to get any by him.”

Cornell continued to apply pressure in the second, especially after St. Lawrence’s Felikss Gavars went to the box for hooking near the halfway mark of the period. The Red generated a couple of prime scoring chances, including a one-timer by freshman forward Nick DeSantis, but all were denied by Zetterquist. 

Both goalies looked sharp in the frame despite the low volume of shots –– only ten shots were fired between the two teams, Cornell with six and St. Lawrence with four.

The third period saw more chances for both teams. Just 15 seconds in, sophomore goaltender Ian Shane made a solid left pad save on St. Lawrence’s Jordan Steinmetz. The Red got its fair share of opportunities in the frame, including a power play early on, but couldn’t get one past Zetterquist. 

Cornell came away empty on three power play chances on the night. After allowing two power play goals against Clarkson, the Red largely managed to stay out of the box on Saturday night, only taking one minor penalty. 

With just under three minutes left in the game, senior defenseman Sam Malinski brought the puck down from the blue line and fired a wrist shot. Zetterquist’s stick save popped out to his teammates, which gave the Saints numbers the other way. With Malinski still behind the play, senior defenseman Travis Mitchell was left to contend with two St. Lawrence skaters. The Saints converted on the odd man rush to take a 1-0 lead with 2:45 left.

“When you’re in those tight games, you know it’s probably going to be decided by a goal or two,” Syer said. “We knew that the first goal would be important much earlier.”

Sophomore goaltender Ian Shane went to the bench for an extra attacker with under two minutes left, but Cornell was unable to tie the game.

With the loss, Cornell fell to third place in the ECAC standings and 15th in the Pairwise. The consecutive losses this weekend and a tie against Colgate last weekend have put the Red’s chances of securing an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament in peril. 

No teams from the Atlantic Hockey Conference are ahead of Cornell in the Pairwise, so the winner of that conference will “steal” a bid. The CCHA and Hockey East each only have one team ahead of Cornell in the Pairwise (Minnesota State and Boston University, respectively), which means both those teams would have to win their conference for the 15th team in the Pairwise to make the field.

Cornell has locked up either the two or three seed in the ECAC standings and a first round bye, but the Red will need to win both of next weekend’s games against Brown and Yale for a chance of making the NCAA tournament without winning the ECAC tournament.

“We’ve had a good season, we’ve had a good run, but there’s certain things that we do on a day-in-and-day-out basis that allow us to have success,” Syer said. “We’ve got to remind ourselves of that and get back to those details and expectations.”