Going into the weekend, I wondered if our guys would continue their goal-scoring after putting 11 pucks in the net last week. Obviously, I found out quickly. Though Union came out and set the pace of the game, we met the challenge by playing fast and with poise. As a team, we showed great effort and focus throughout the game.
Just two minutes in, Senior defenseman Sebastian Dirven scored, shooting from the point, through traffic and the goalie’s five-hole to give us the 1-0 lead. We added two more with goals from Junior defenseman Tim Rego and Senior forward Ben Berard at 14:35 and 18:57, respectively, to go into the first intermission 3-0.
In the second period, neither team scored before Union got on the scoreboard at 13:02, after a goalmouth scramble that was reviewed and called a good goal. At this point, I happily saw our guys respond with a power-play goal just about three minutes later by Senior forward Jack Malone, then twenty-eight seconds later, another power-play goal by Junior forward Gabriel Seger to make the score 5-1. Seger had transferred from Union and is playing in his first season with Cornell as a Junior. He also had two assists against his former teammates and won 14-of-18 faceoff draws. Malone also scored an unassisted goal with 1:19 left in the second period for his first career multi-goal game. Senior defenseman Sam Malinski had a pair of assists on the night.
Sophomore goaltender Ian Shane made 18 saves and two Union goalies stopped 25 shots. We were 2-for-2 on the power play and Union was 0-for-4. This win was a definite team effort with a focus throughout the game.
On Saturday night, I was excited to see how we would respond in back-to-back games. Quickly at 2:11, Sophomore defenseman Hank Kempf echoed Friday’s game, scoring our first goal and his first collegiate goal. Midway through the period, Berard made it 2-0 with a one-timer at 9:49. We had an excellent chance to increase our lead with a 5-on-3 power play but failed to score.
The second period did not go well for us. We were called for a 5-minute major penalty and RPI took advantage of a couple of PK defensive mistakes and scored three goals in the first 4:11 of their power play to take a 3-2 lead. After we were back to even strength, Senior forward Zach Tupker was pulled down on a breakaway opportunity and was awarded a penalty shot. His shot was initially stopped but the puck caromed into the net to even the game at 3-all. At this point, it was great to see our guys take control of the game after they had lost the lead. Tupker’s penalty-shot-goal was our first since 2017.
We regained the lead at 7:56 of the second period when Berard set up Malinski for a wrister at the top of the left faceoff circle. Seger then extended the lead to 5-3 at 11:56 of the second period and freshman forward Sean Donaldson capped the scoring at 10:05 of the third period. RPI scored a power-play goal with two seconds remaining in the game.
On the night, we allowed RPI only three even-strength shots. The last time we scored 11 or more goals during a two-game weekend was 1991. Shane made 10 saves and two Engineer goaltenders stopped 23 shots. We were 1-for-2 on the power play and they were 4-for-8. This was the first time we gave up four power-play-goals in one game since 2006. Berard (2 goals, 4 assists) was named ECAC Forward of the Week and Freshman forward Nick DeSantis (5 assists) was named ECAC Rookie of the Week for the second time.
I look forward to seeing this team improve over the next month. We are 10-5-1 overall, in second place in the ECAC (7-3) and back in the national polls at #15. #1 Quinnipiac is first in the ECAC (12-0) . This Saturday (4PM), we play #7 Boston University in Boston (Agganis Arena) for our last non-league game of the regular season. It will be a great challenge for our guys.