Anthony Corrales/Sun Staff Photographer

BU and Cornell in the handshake line at the biennial Red Hot Hockey game at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 25, 2023.

November 25, 2023

Men’s Hockey Defeats No. 5 Terriers, Wins Fourth Consecutive Red Hot Hockey Contest

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This story has been updated.

Cornell men’s hockey (5-3-1, 2-3-1 ECAC) defeated Boston University, 2-1, on Saturday, Nov. 25 at Madison Square Garden. The Red earned its first top-5 win of the season over the Terriers (9-4-1, 5-1-1 Hockey East), snapping a three-game skid in the process. The Kelley-Harkness Cup returned to the hands of the Red for the fourth consecutive time. 

“[I’m] very proud of our team for just finding a way to win tonight. It wasn’t beautiful, it wasn’t pretty, but with a young team, you have to learn how to win [and] you have to learn how to overcome adversity,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “You got to learn how to face different teams and I just thought that these guys did a good job stepping forward tonight.”

A crucial piece in the win was junior goaltender Ian Shane, who returned in net for the first time since being pulled halfway through the first period against Quinnipiac on Nov. 17. Shane made a season-high 35 saves to keep the offensive prowess of BU at bay. 

“It’s fortunate to have a great goaltender who made some huge saves for us,” Schafer said. “We hung around and Ian kept us in the [game] in the first two periods.”

It was the Red who established the first significant zone time between either team, possessing the puck in its offensive zone but unable to muster a shot on goal. Junior forward Jack O’Leary gave Cornell its first big look, picking the pocket of a BU skater and turning it into a one-on-none breakaway, but shot the puck just wide.

Not much after, Shane made his first save. The Terriers proceeded to test Shane early, holding possession in the Cornell defensive zone. The Red held its own defensively, however, keeping BU to the outside and limiting high-danger scoring chances. The Terrier’s first prime scoring chance was a close call, as Cornell turnover led to a two-on-one right in front of Shane, but the shot attempt slipped just wide.

Cornell retaliated with a chance of its own, when junior forward Kyle Penney fired a hard wrist shot on net. BU goaltender Mathieu Caron made a solid save but couldn’t control the big rebound, but the Red was unable to collect it.

The Terriers’ freshman phenom Macklin Celebrini, dangling through Cornell defenders, had another close chance as Shane made a glove save to keep BU off the board.

Cornell got the first opportunity on the power play as BU’s Nick Zabaneh was called for high sticking. The Red looked to remedy its recent power play struggles against the mediocre Terrier penalty kill which at the time stood at a 78 percent success rate.

While the Red was able to establish zone time off of the initial offensive zone faceoff, making some nice passess but failing to generate shots on net. A miscommunication at the blueline led to a shorthanded chance for the Terriers, but freshman forward Jonathan Castagna hustled back and made a diving play with his stick to block the chance.

Time ran out on the power play, with Cornell yet again unable to convert. The Red had not scored a power play goal since Nov. 10 against Dartmouth. 

Almost immediately after time expired on the man advantage with around four minutes remaining in the period, freshman forward Luke Devlin had a huge chance in front of the net that was saved by Caron. Cornell was then nabbed for having too many men on the ice, putting the Red to the test against the No. 6 power play in the nation.

A scrum in front of the net found Shane without a stick and O’Leary and junior defenseman Rego in the back of the net looking to keep the loose puck out. Despite the puck appearing to be underneath Shane, no whistle was blown and chaos continued to ensue in front of Cornell’s net. 

Shane and the rest of the PK unit stood strong, keeping the score knotted at zero. Following the conclusion of the penalty kill, the referees took another look at the scrum in front of Shane and confirmed the no-goal call.

With just over a minute remaining in the frame, Zabaneh went to the box again, this time for cross checking a Cornell skater after the whistle had been blown. 

Around 30 seconds to go in the period, BU’s Sam Stevens collected Cornell turnover and created a breakaway chance. All alone in front, Stevens went to his backhand but was stopped by a diving Shane, keeping the game scoreless.

The Red began the period with 54 seconds remaining on the Zabaneh penalty. Cornell was able to muster a couple of shots but was unable to solve Caron.

Right out of the box, Zabaneh shot off a pass from Celebrini, however, it was just deflected wide by Shane. Another shot forced Shane to make a sprawling save. Zabaneh got a piece of the rebound however it was just deflected off the crossbar.

Sophomore forward Dalton Bancroft, with just around five minutes gone by in the second period, had a prime scoring opportunity in the slot, but his stick was lifted by a Boston defender just as the puck got to his stick. At this point, Cornell trailed a whopping 14-3 in shots. 

Simultaneous penalties on freshman defenseman Hoyt Stanley for high sticking and on Stevens for embellishment allowed for two minutes of four-on-four play. For the first minute, play was mostly kept in the Cornell defensive zone. The second minute was highlighted by close chances on both ends, however, Caron and Shane held firm as time ran out on the penalties.

At around the 11 minute mark, the Red was able to build some momentum. With its first substantial zone time since the earlier moments of the first period. Senior forward Gabriel Seger was all alone at the back door, but his tap-in attempt was robbed by Caron. Moments later, Castagna had a beautiful behind-the-back attempt in the slot. Caron never saw it and thus didn’t react, but the puck slid just wide of the net.

After finally clearing the puck from its own zone, Boston retaliated with a couple of nice scoring opportunities. Bancroft attempted to clear the puck, but BU’s Luke Tuch intercepted it and found himself with a prime scoring chance, but Shane made a pad save to keep the Terriers off the board.

After 17 shots against Shane, it was the Terriers that finally broke the ice with seven minutes remaining in the second. It was a freshman, Doug Grimes, notching his first collegiate goal by wristing a shot over the blocker of Shane. 

With just over three minutes remaining, Cornell generated traffic in front of the BU netminder, nearly tapping in a shaky rebound from Caron. The Red then drew a holding penalty, earring its third power play opportunity of the game. 

While the Red managed a few more shots on net, Caron had all of the answers. He continued his rock-solid play, aided by his Terrier defense that blocked shots and prevented Cornell skaters from capitalizing on rebounds.

In the waning seconds of the power play, junior defenseman Michael Suda one-timed a shot that was deflected up and over Caron’s net. He threw his hands up in frustration, embodying the culminating frustration of the Red’s power play woes. 

Beginning the third period trailing by a goal, Cornell had an opportunity to strike as BU’s Jeremy Willander went to the box for tripping. 

Just a few seconds after the man advantage expired, Cornell’s power play unit was sent right back out when Boston’s Lane Hutson, a key penalty killer for the Terriers, was sent to the box for interference. 

After 18 straight scoreless power plays, Cornell could finally let its shoulders drop. After a timeout was called by Cornell, likely to draw up a play, freshman forward Ryan Walsh fired a beautiful wrist shot past Caron to tie the game. 

Cornell didn’t have much time to celebrate, as sophomore forward Winter Wallace went to the box for elbowing shortly after, forcing the Red to fend off another Terrier power play opportunity. 

Right off the bat, Shane was forced to make three quick saves. Most shots were fired by BU’s Celebrini, who loomed dangerously to the left of Shane and lasered pucks left and right. 

A beautiful left pad stop by Shane, his 24th of the night, led to possession by the Red at the eleven minute mark of the third. A Cornell defenseman shoveled the puck up its offensive zone, where sophomore forward Nick DeSantis made a huge skating play to negate a Cornell icing. Breaking to the front of the net, Castagna received a pass from DeSantis and quickly tapped it to junior forward Ondrej Psenicka, who buried the puck from the back post for his first of the season. With his goal tonight, Psenicka has scored in each game at MSG he has played so far.

“I think that this arena brings me something special, so I’m trying to ensure that every time,” Psenicka said. “I’m super, super happy that we won as a team, but for me personally, that [a shot] went through, [for that] I’m really thankful.”

“Something special” could be the backing of the crowd, how even almost 230 miles away, the faithful had a way of making MSG feel like the inside of Lynah Rink. And after entering the period trailing, the Lynah Faithful was rejuvenated after the Walsh and Psenicka goals. 

“This is about playing for our university [and] playing for our alumni, and we take a lot of pride in that,” Schafer said.

With the crowd alive again, the Red faced another daunting task moments after the go-ahead goal. DeSantis was called for roughing, putting the Cornell PK unit to the test once again with just under ten minutes remaining.

After a flurry of shots, Shane went to cover up a loose puck on the side, leaving a wide open net. The puck came loose and a BU skater attempted to shoot it, but just hit the post. A scrum in front led to yet another penalty, and Psenicka was called for holding. This put Cornell on a 5-on-3 disadvantage, perhaps the most crucial moment the game had seen. 

Miraculously, the Cornell penalty killers kept Boston off the board –– but not without the help of the Red’s goaltender, Shane, who was lights-out in perhaps his best game in a Cornell uniform. He moved left and right flawlessly, making save after save on a flurry of BU shots. After a particular save with around five minutes remaining, diving to cover up the rebound, Shane earned himself a standing ovation from the crowd.

With time dwindling down, both teams traded scoring chances, and Shane continued to bail out the Red. Cornell began to lock down defensively when Boston pulled Caron with just over a minute-and-a-half remaining in the game in favor of an extra attacker. 

Time ran out, and the Terriers were unable to cash in on the man-advantage, handing Cornell the 2-1 win. 

It was Shane’s remarkable performance, plus the stout Cornell defense that kept the Red in the game when they were 1-0 down, and kept the Terriers off the board to hold onto its 2-1 lead in the dying minutes of the game.

“They make it really easy even if I’m getting a lot of shots all the time from outside,” Shane said about the defense. “I think majority of the games this year, our defense probably had more saves than I had in terms of blocked shots. And [they] did a great job controlling the d-zone and [they] got two big goals…so overall, I think they did unbelievable.”