Men’s hockey defeated Clarkson, 3-1, on Saturday night to sweep its quarterfinal series and advance to the semifinals in Lake Placid.
The win sends Cornell to Lake Placid for the first time since 2019.
“We’ve been through so much over the last four years with this group of guys,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “I’m happy for this group of guys to overcome adversity, the seniors especially to overcome adversity and get to Lake Placid.”
The stellar play of the penalty killers and sophomore goaltender Ian Shane led Cornell to the weekend sweep. Cornell killed three penalties and Shane made 22 saves on Saturday night. Shane carried a shutout bid into the final minute of the game.
“Everyone on the team steps up, it’s playoff hockey,” Shane said. “I want to do my part in elevating my game, but that’s the standard [in the playoffs] and everybody’s on board with that.”
For the second consecutive night, Cornell fought out a back-and-forth, physical game. The Golden Knights earned the game’s first chances, firing the first three shots of the contest. Clarkson outshot the Red eight to five in the first period.
“I said to our guys before the series started that to get to Lake Placid we’re going to have to beat one of the best teams in our league,” Schafer said.
Each team took one penalty in the opening frame, but both were killed off. Cornell’s penalty killers came up with a couple of big blocked shots to keep the game scoreless.
Tensions started to rise in the second period. The game quickly became a special teams battle, as the Red and the Golden Knights combined for 16 penalty minutes in the middle frame.
Cornell’s power play unit controlled play during its man advantages and had a golden opportunity when senior forward Max Andreev squirted open in the slot off a great pass from junior forward Gabe Seger. Andreev took a stick to the wrist, knocking his glove off and causing him to whiff on his look at the wide open net.
“We had our chances, we just couldn’t get it past the goalie. With the amount of penalties we had we knew that one eventually was going to go in,” Andreev said. “I knew we were playing well, it was just a matter of time.”
Shortly after both teams returned to full strength, Cornell went right back on the power play when Clarkson’s Anthony Romano was nabbed for interference.
This time Andreev was able to cash in, firing a one-timer over the glove of Clarkson’s Ethan Haider to give the Red the lead. The goal was Cornell’s second power-play goal of the series, and the only one on seven power play attempts in game two.
Both teams started participating in extracurricular activities after Andreev’s tally. Just about halfway into the period, Clarkson’s Noah Beck and sophomore forward Ondrej Psenicka were sent off for offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
The second frame saw only a few brief stretches of even-strength play. After the first four minutes of the period, the longest stretch of five-on-five lasted just over two minutes––the last two minutes of the period.
“We’re an older team, we’re pretty comfortable in games like that,” Andreev said. “Everybody knew what we had to do. When you’re up 1-0 and the other team’s facing elimination, the pressure’s not on you.”
Cornell skated out for the final period with a 1-0 lead, looking to keep the Golden Knights off the board for 20 more minutes and advance to the semifinals. The third seemed to pick up where the second period left off, as the Red took a penalty just 24 seconds in when Seger was called for tripping. Clarkson answered with a penalty of its own about a minute later.
Once again, Cornell’s special teams came up big. On both the penalty kill and four-on-four, the defensive corps came up with key blocks and kept Clarkson to the perimeter. Shane continued to look sharp, making a huge right-pad save to preserve the lead.
“We’re a team that’s comfortable in close games,” Shane said. “When it comes to a third period like that, if it’s a 1-0 game the whole game, we’re gonna wear them down eventually.”
The Red continued to generate chances as the pace of the game increased, but Haider was up to the task. The Clarkson netminder finished with 19 saves.
“That’s been a little bit of our mantra all year long, not to sit back and be defensive,” Schafer said. “Credit to [Haider], he’s a good goaltender.”
Cornell finally extended its lead with just over seven minutes remaining in the game. Psenicka collected a rebound from senior forward Jack Malone’s shot and flipped it over the shoulder of Haider to give the Red some breathing room.
From there, the Red maintained good discipline and stingy defense. On the brink of elimination, Clarkson pulled Haider with just over three minutes left in the game.
The Red finished the Golden Knights off when junior forward Kyle Penney sauced a pass out in front to Malone, who tapped it in for the empty net goal. Clarkson managed to get one back in the waning seconds of the game to spoil Shane’s shutout, but it was too little too late.
Cornell will face Harvard in the semifinals. Like Clarkson, the Crimson swept Cornell in the season series.
“We came into this weekend knowing that we owe Clarkson a little bit,” Shane said. “It’s the same mentality we’re gonna take into Harvard.”
By sweeping the Golden Knights, Cornell has all but secured a spot in the NCAA tournament. According to College Hockey News, the Red has over a 99% chance of making the tournament, either through an at-large bid or through winning the ECAC.