Ming DeMers/Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Cornell men's hockey lost to Arizona State in a shootout during the inaugural Adirondack Winter Invitational championship game.

December 30, 2023

Men’s Hockey Falls to Arizona State in Shootout During Adirondack Winter Invitational Championship Game

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LAKE PLACID, N.Y. –– After a shootout victory over University of Massachusetts Friday evening, Cornell men’s hockey (6-4-3, 3-4-1 ECAC) took on Arizona State University (14-3-3) in the championship game of the Adirondack Winter Invitational. The game marked the first of three consecutive matchups between the Red and the Sun Devils. Cornell will make the journey to Tempe, Arizona, for an out-of-conference series against Arizona Jan. 12 and 13. 

The game went to a shootout, like it did the night previously, but Cornell couldn’t find an answer to the Arizona State netminder. 

Right out of the gates, the Sun Devils were firing on all cylinders. Coming off an exhilarating comeback Friday night, where it scored four third period goals en route to a 5-2 victory over Clarkson, Arizona State looked sharp. 

Cornell struggled to match up with Arizona State’s speed to begin with, perhaps an inevitable consequence of coming off a long break. The Sun Devils also brought a surplus of physicality, finishing all of their hits and forcing the Cornell skaters to make quick decisions.

Cornell had a few chances of its own, including a couple minute stretch in its offensive zone. Freshman forward Luke Devlin, who has been playing on a line with fellow first-year Jake Kraft and sophomore forward Winter Wallace, had the Red’s first shot of the contest. Following Devlin’s chance, junior forward Sullivan Mack parked himself in front of crease, deflecting freshman defenseman George Fegaras’s hard shot, but he did not beat the Arizona State goaltender.

Like it did Saturday night, Cornell took the first penalty of the contest, when Wallace was called for boarding at 10:56 of the period. Arizona State entered the contest with the sixth best power play in the nation, converting on 28 percent of its man advantage opportunities. 

The power play mirrored the opening minutes of play, with Arizona State controlling possession and taking nearly every shot it saw. Cornell struggled to clear the puck out of its defensive zone, and it wasn’t until 26 seconds remained in the penalty kill that the Red penalty killers were able to clear it out.

In total, Arizona State attempted 21 shots in the first period but only managed six on net. 

After a successful penalty kill, the Red looked to build on that momentum. It was able to manage a few shots of its own, lessening the Sun Devils’s lead in shots on goal. Cornell kept at its pesky forechecking, which was key in getting by Massachusetts the night prior.

Cornell got its first power play chance with 5:01 remaining in the first, as Arizona State’s Ty Murchison was nabbed for tripping. 

It was deja vu for the Red, as a quick play off the faceoff was perfectly executed. Just seven seconds into the power play –– exactly the elapsed time it took Cornell to score on a power play the night before –– senior forward Gabriel Seger capitalized on a one-timer, rocketing it past the glove of Arizona State’s TJ Semptimphelter.

That score would hold as time ticked down. Arizona State had a good chance toward the end, when a hustle Sun Devil forward negated an icing call. It led to a point blank attempt in front of Shane, who made a stellar stop with his paddle to preserve the Red’s lead. The Cornell netminder was up to the task, one of the 18 saves he made against Arizona State in total. 

The puck dropped for the second period with the Sun Devils not losing hope –– entering Saturday’s contest, Arizona State had not lost a game after surrendering the first goal (5-0-2). It was the Red, though, that came out sharp to begin the second frame. Cornell nearly doubled its lead in the first 20 seconds but was met with an impressive pad save by the Arizona State netminder. 

Just under three minutes in, Sun Devil forward Cole Gordon was sent to the box for tripping, and Cornell’s power play unit was put to the test once more. Cornell struggled to get much going on its second man advantage opportunity and even surrendered a two-on-one shorthanded chance for the Sun Devils.

However, with just one second remaining on the power play, Fegaras made a big lead into the offensive zone and fired a beautiful wrist shot past Semptimphelter. It was Fegaras’s second of the season and his collegiate career, doubling Cornell’s lead. 

The Red couldn’t celebrate the two-goal lead for long, however: Just 17 seconds after Fegaras’s tally, Arizona State dashed into its offensive zone. It was Jackson Niedermayer that got one past Shane, halving Cornell’s lead almost immediately. 

It didn’t stop there. Moments after the ensuing center ice faceoff, Seger was sent to the penalty box for interference, awarding Arizona State with an opportunity to even up the game. However, as it had done all weekend, Cornell’s penalty kill stood tall, aided by Shane’s rebound control and aggressiveness. 

The teams continued to up the physicality and finish hits. Special teams continued to be the difference, disrupting the ebb and flow of the game as infractions continued to be called. 

Cornell got another power play try with 11:02 left in the period. It nearly extended its lead to 3-1 when a hard shot beat Semptimphelter and trickled into the crease. However, Robertson, who was hanging around the crease, had his stick lifted, and the Sun Devils successfully cleared the puck out of the zone as time expired on the power play.

Semptimphelter had been beaten by two shots from distance — not necessarily Cornell’s speciality — but was stellar from then on. Cornell got itself all kinds of opportunities from up close, including quick one-timers and sneaky deflections, but the Arizona State goaltender had an answer for everything the Red sent his way.

Perhaps the best chance for the Red in the second period came from Kraft with 5:49 left, as he picked the pocket of a Sun Devil defenseman and created two prime scoring chances for himself. However, he was promptly met with a blocker save and a pad save by Semptimphelter.

Cornell had yet another opportunity to break open the game on another power play chance. The Red held its breath when sophomore forward Dalton Bancroft was hit hard by Arizona State’s Tucker Ness, staying down for a few moments. Bancroft was ultimately fine, and Ness was sent to the box, but Cornell couldn’t get it done on its fourth power play of the night. After looking shaky on its first two tries, the Sun Devil penalty kill unit was strong on its latter two opportunities. Cornell struggled to set up in its offensive zone, and when it did, there was an Arizona State skater everywhere it looked. 

On the other end of the ice, Shane came up big when asked, but couldn’t help but be outshone by Semptimphelter. Shane would face another tall task with just 41.9 seconds left in the period, when freshman forward Ryan Walsh was caught for high sticking, forcing Cornell to kill another penalty. Despite an onslaught of Arizona State shots as seconds ticked down, Cornell came out of the second period with its 2-1 lead unscathed. 

Entering the third with 1:19 left to kill, Arizona State immediately established zone time in its offensive half. And despite some good killing by the Red up to that point, the nation’s sixth-best power play was bound to cash in. It was Matthew Kopperud, with his nation-leading 10th power play goal of the season, who tied up the game for Arizona State. 

With a two-goal lead now erased, Cornell looked to fend off the relentless Sun Devils, who have been known for their come-from-behind tactics so far this season. It certainly didn’t help the Red to be met with the hot goaltender, Semptimphelter. 

Cornell had two notable offensive pushes in the third period, the first coming at around the 14 minute mark. Junior forward Jack O’Leary had a beautiful one-timer stopped by the Sun Devil goaltender, but Cornell maintained possession and continued to fire away. Semptimphelter made a pair of stops through immense Cornell traffic, and two big blocks by Sun Devil defensemen prevented the Red from cashing in. 

Cornell’s second big offensive push came with just six minutes left in the contest, sustaining zone time for nearly two-and-a-half minutes. Shot after shot was fired by the Red, save after save was made by Semptimphelter, who finished the game with 25 stops.  

However, that latter Cornell shift was preceded by a beautiful chance by Arizona State’s Anthony Dowd with 13 minutes left. The first-year defenseman dangled through multiple Cornell skaters, toe dragging the puck to his backhand, but was met by an outstretched pad of Shane. 

A huge opportunity came with a minute left, as Arizona State forced a turnover at the Cornell blue line and broke out for a one-on-none breakaway. However, freshman defenseman Hoyt Stanley saved the day, making a diving play to poke the puck free and out of danger. Time ticked down, and for the second consecutive night, Cornell would play overtime. 

It was evident late in the third that both teams were beginning to feel fatigued, as the opponents traded four consecutive icing calls. However, after a late Cornell icing, Arizona State had its best push since its goal in the opening minute of the frame. Shane made a couple of big stops, and a couple of shots were fired wide. Despite Arizona State’s offensive pushes, Cornell outshot the Sun Devils 24-19 after regulation. However, Arizona State massively outchanced the Red, notching 51 attempted shots, many of which went wide.

Cornell controlled the opening faceoff in overtime. Robertson made an impressive move, skating up the length of the ice and splitting the Sun Devil defense, but was denied by the glove of Semptimphelter. Shane made an impressive save of his own promptly after, when Arizona State gained control. 

An all-freshmen trio of Robertson, Kraft and forward Jonathan Castagna created some more good opportunities for Cornell, and Robertson had three shots of his own in overtime alone. However, impressive performances by both goaltenders in the extra frame forced the game to a shootout.

Arizona State’s Lukas Sillinger was the first shooter, and his wrist shot was denied by the left pad of Shane. Bancroft went next, after scoring in the shootout against Massachusetts Friday night, but was denied by Semptimphelter.

The next two shooters, Kopperud and Seger, both lost control of the puck and couldn’t score.

A nice move by Kyle Smollen beat Shane, leaving the game on Wallace’s stick. However, Wallace was denied by the pad of Semptimphelter, crowning Arizona State the champions of the first ever Adirondack Winter Invitational.

Cornell leaves Lake Placid with two ties against ranked opponents and sits at 21st in Pairwise, a key indicator of NCAA Tournament bids.

The Red has next weekend off before venturing all the way to Tempe, Arizona, where they will take on the Sun Devils once again, on Jan. 12 and 13.