LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – Men’s hockey fell to Harvard, 1-0, in overtime of the ECAC semifinals on Friday night.
“I’m very proud of our players. We came in and did what we had to do to control their offense,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “We had our chances… not as [many] as we wanted, but they’re a good defensive team.”
The teams played up-and-down all 200 feet of ice for nearly 65 minutes, but Cornell never found the back of the net and was shutout for the third time of the season.
“Obviously it turned into a defensive night,” Schafer said. “I don’t think there was much offense in the game at all.
Nearly all of the game was played at even strength. Each team took one penalty, but both came up empty on power plays. Special teams have been a strength for Cornell this season, but the even strength action kept Cornell’s dangerous power play unit on the bench for most of the night.
“That goes on us, we talked about that between periods. We had to protect pucks better, we had to get to the net more, we had to penetrate more in order to make them draw some calls,” Schafer said. “We spent 40% of our time in practice practicing the power play.”
Harvard limited Cornell’s scoring chances and was able to quickly clear its zone throughout the night. The shots that Cornell did get threw were all swallowed up by Harvard’s Mitchell Gibson, who made 15 saves.
Cornell’s typical stingy defense kept the Crimson off the board for nearly 65 minutes. The defense blocked 19 shots and sophomore goaltender Ian Shane made 24 saves. It was only the fifth time this season that Cornell was outshot.
When the two teams met in Harvard in January ECAC player of the Year Sean Farrell piled up four assists and his linemate Matthew Coronato notched two goals. On Friday, Cornell was able to contain Harvard’s dangerous top line.
“They have a lot of up front skill. As a defense we definitely play a little bit more cautious,” said senior defenseman Travis Mitchell. “We were trying to make sure that Coronato and Farrell line didn’t get at us.”
The Red had a chance to take a late lead when Harvard’s John Farinacci was called for high-sticking, but Cornell’s typically strong power play did not capitalize. The Red fired one shot and allowed a few clears.
“We didn’t capitalize – we had our chance,” Schafer said. “Six minutes to go in the game, we just didn’t get it done.”
With no score through sixty minutes, the game went to sudden death overtime.
Harvard came out firing in the extra frame. The Crimson outshot Cornell 5-0 in overtime.
Harvard ended the game with just over 15 minutes left in overtime when Alex Laferriere buried a feed from Baker Shore that caught Shane out of position.
With the loss, Cornell will have to nervously wait to learn its NCAA tournament fate. The Red is currently in position to make the tournament, but could be forced out with upsets in other conference tournaments.
“You just gotta have faith. Probably 99% of your life is out of your own hands,” Schafer said, perhaps subtly alluding to the probability of Cornell making the tournament coming into the weekend. “We’ll go back to Ithaca, we’ll regroup…and then see what happens. That’s all you can do – have faith that if it’s meant to be, it’ll happen.”