Leilani Burke/Sun Staff Photographer

George Fegaras '27 was one of five different goal-scorers in men's hockey's victory over St. Lawrence on Friday, Feb. 2.

February 3, 2024

Special Teams Success Lifts Men’s Hockey to 5-1 Victory Over St. Lawrence

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This story has been updated.

Men’s hockey (12-4-4, 7-4-2 ECAC) got right back on track on Friday night, as a solid defensive performance lifted Cornell over upstate-New York rival St. Lawrence (8-14-3, 6-6-1 ECAC). The Red was perfect on the penalty kill and had a 34-13 edge in shots, while four Cornell players had multipoint nights en route to a 5-1 victory. 

The first penalty was taken just 39 seconds into the contest, as St. Lawrence’s Ty Naaykens was sent to the box on a boarding call. Cornell struggled to generate much momentum and was largely fended off by deflections and poke checks from the Saints. 

Aided by a momentum-boosting penalty kill, St. Lawrence went right back the other way. On just its second shot of the contest, St. Lawrence capitalized –– Gunnar Thoreson fired a hard wrist shot past junior goaltender Ian Shane to give the Saints a 1-0 lead 3:32 in.

It was just the fifth time this season that the Red had given up the first goal of the contest, and the first time since its home loss to Colgate on Dec. 2. 

“We came out ready to play. Even though we got scored on first, there [was] no letdown. There [was] no worry,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “I think that shows how the team has matured this year.”

While the Saints did a good job of getting sticks in the way of the first few Cornell shots, the Red came alive a little under halfway into the opening frame. An elongated stay in St. Lawrence’s defensive zone saw Cornell fire five consecutive shots on goal. The fifth finally beat St. Lawrence goaltender Ben Kraws, when freshman forward Luke Devlin cleaned up the rebound from a shot by freshman forward Jake Kraft. 

Devlin’s tally evened up the game and was assisted by two fellow first-years, all of whom compose the newest iteration of Cornell’s fourth line. 

“Four freshmen scored tonight. It’s great to see them contribute,” Schafer said.

It was all Cornell from there. After initially trailing in the shot department over the first few minutes, Cornell concluded the period with an 11-5 edge over the Saints. Another dominant category for the Red in the first was its faceoffs –– Cornell won the first 17 faceoffs in the first period and finished the frame with an 18-3 lead in that category.

A loud ringing began the second period as St. Lawrence fired a shot off the pipe after the opening faceoff, but the second period saw fewer offensive chances on both sides. Ebbs and flows of momentum were evident, as both teams struggled to maintain significant possession of the puck before having it poked away by the opponent. 

The Red finally got things going in the latter half of the period when it was able to break the St. Lawrence forecheck. A beautiful cross-ice pass by freshman defenseman Ben Robertson found wide-open freshman forward Ryan Walsh, who seamlessly tapped in the puck past Kraws for the power play tally. 

Cornell didn’t give the Saints a chance to respond, as a skillful feed landed was collected by junior forward Kyle Penney, converting it for the quick retaliation. Penney’s goal cushioned Cornell with a two-goal lead just 1:40 after Walsh’s go-ahead tally.

“It’s such a cliche, but if you just stick with it, good things happen,” Penney said, regarding Cornell’s quick response on offense.

A couple of killed penalties brought the second to a close, but not before Shane made his best save of the night, a point-blank smother of the shot from Felikss Gavars, who was all alone in front of the Cornell netminder during a late St. Lawrence power play. The save was the only one Shane had to make in the second frame, as Cornell stifled the Saints and limited them to just six shots through 40 minutes of play.

A stout defensive effort aided Cornell to a 5-1 victory. (Leilani Burke/Sun Staff Photographer)

The third period saw an occasional flurry of offense for the Saints, but it was ultimately the Red that got the game’s next goal. Freshman defenseman George Fegaras beat the Saints’ goaltender to give Cornell a 4-1 lead, allowing Cornell some breathing room with 12:03 remaining in the game. 

A late St. Lawrence power play saw the Saints generate its best looks of the game since the opening minutes. Shane made three saves, including a sprawling one to rob a St. Lawrence attacker, en route to Cornell’s fourth successful kill of the night.

An empty-net goal by Kraft with 17 seconds left sealed the deal for Cornell, now unbeaten in its last nine games (6-0-3 over the stretch). 

St. Lawrence finished the game with 13 shots, with Shane stopping all but one of them. It was the fewest shots Cornell has given up all year. 

“We just have to keep doing ‘us’ better,” Penney said. “[We need to] play Cornell hockey, and find a way to get it done on Saturday night,” Penney said.

Cornell will go for the sweep Saturday night against Clarkson at Lynah Rink. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.