Booming yells and shrilled shouts bellowed from the locker room at Lynah Rink on Saturday, Feb. 3. The home team was victorious, fresh off a win over a top conference team and extending its unbeaten streak to 10 games.
“It was just awesome,” said junior forward Sullivan Mack.
Offensive floodgates opened on Saturday as men’s hockey (13-4-4, 8-4-2 ECAC) took down Clarkson (13-12-1, 7-6-1 ECAC). It was a physical battle from the very beginning, as both teams combined for 113 penalty minutes in the game, but Cornell was able to coast to a 7-2 victory over a rough-around-the-edges Clarkson team.
“They’re a good hockey team. They [have] a lot of good players on their team,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “I thought we had a good tenacity [and] a good pace to our game tonight.”
Cornell came out of the gates flying, immediately sustaining offensive zone pressure and pushing the Golden Knights onto its heels. The Red rattled off shot after shot on Clarkson’s goaltender, Emmett Croteau –– a freshman who has played in just three games this season. Clarkson’s usual tandem of junior Brady Parker and graduate student Austin Roden was, unexpectedly, benched.
The Red took advantage of the inexperienced netminder just under two minutes into the game, when junior forward Jack O’Leary cleaned up a rebound on top of the crease and shoveled it past Croteau. The goal came on a Clarkson delayed penalty, allowing the Red to receive both the goal and the ensuing man-advantage.
Without skipping a beat, Cornell doubled its lead on its first power play chance of the night. 1:13 after O’Leary’s opening goal, a beautiful cross-crease dish from senior forward Gabriel Seger found sophomore forward Dalton Bancroft, who one-timed the puck masterfully past Croteau. Just three minutes into the contest, Cornell had a two-goal lead.
Chaos began to unfold in the first when a minor penalty by freshman defenseman Hoyt Stanley preceded a major penalty by junior forward Ondrej Psenicka, who was consequently ejected for a “contact to the head” call.
Clarkson capitalized not long into its two-man advantage, when Anthony Romano halved Cornell’s lead around 20 seconds into the Clarkson power play.
Though Cornell worked hard on its penalty kill, and junior goaltender Ian Shane made a couple of strong saves, the Golden Knights ultimately tied the game up with 1:04 left on the major penalty. The experienced graduate student, Mathieu Gosselin, equalized the score on an obscure shot that floated by Shane, whose confused look was indicative of not seeing the initial shot.
“We kind of let them back into the game a bit,” Mack said.
However, those two goals would be the only given up by Shane, who finished the game with 20 saves on 24 shots.
Though Cornell saw its first period lead dwindle away, the Red wasted little time earning it back in the second. Cornell crushed Clarkson’s momentum heading into the second when freshman forward Ryan Walsh bolted into the offensive zone on a one-on-none breakaway, burying it past the Clarkson netminder.
That goal began a stretch of five unanswered for Cornell, ultimately tying its highest goal total in a game this season. Seven different players scored for Cornell, and all four lines contributed to the dominant offensive performance.
“The guys were saying it on the way up [to the locker room after the first period]: ‘time to get refocused and get back out there,’” Schafer said. “And they came right back out there in the second and scored.”
Then, just 1:37 after Walsh’s go-ahead tally, junior forward Kyle Penney lasered a shot off the post and into the net, regaining the Red’s two-goal lead. Penney, who had gone 11 games without a goal entering the weekend, netted two goals and three points on the weekend.
Cornell wasn’t finished, however. Freshman forward Jake Kraft –– another goalscorer from Friday night’s win over St. Lawrence –– joined in on the fun with a nifty deflection goal to cushion Cornell’s lead to 5-3. The Red’s three goals in the second all came within a 3:43 span.
“I think a thing our team has done really well is stay even-keeled throughout anything that happens,” Mack said. “We controlled the pace [after the first].”
Roden relieved the young Croteau of his duties halfway through the second period, after Croteau allowed five goals on 16 Cornell shots. Roden was able to escape Cornell’s second-period pressure unscathed, making three saves to hold the 5-2 score.
The third period flowed smoothly after a chaotic middle frame, but Cornell was tasked with its fifth penalty kill of the contest after Stanley was sent off for high-sticking just shy of the halfway mark of the third.
Despite the disadvantage, Cornell found yet another way to cash in. A turnover by the Golden Knights led to a break down the ice for the Red, allowing Mack to collect a pass and bury past Roden. Mack’s tally marks Cornell’s first short-handed goal of the season after being one of four Division-I teams without one.
The Red wasn’t done quite yet, however. Freshman forward Luke Devlin snuck a shot past Roden from a sharp angle to extend Cornell’s lead to 7-2.
Physicality persisted as time dwindled down, as the last five minutes of the game saw multiple players from both squads receive 10-minute misconducts. 88 penalty minutes were called in the third period.
“Things were pretty undisciplined in the third period, and it’s tough when it gets like that, but I was happy with our team,” Schafer said.
Ultimately, Cornell prevailed in the penalty-ridden affair, taking down the Golden Knights and securing the weekend sweep.
As players skated off the ice, the shouts were louder, the crowd was rowdier and the hugs were held longer.
“When it gets chippy, and it really becomes a rivalry, you get a little [more] hatred for the other team,” Mack said. “It was just really good to get the win.”
Cornell is all alone in second place in the ECAC with 27 points, now leading Clarkson by four points.
The Red will be back in action next Friday, Feb. 9, when it takes on RPI at 7 p.m. in Troy, N.Y. Cornell will verse Union the next day, Saturday Feb. 10, in Schenectady, N.Y.