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Coach Schafer’s Notes for 1/23/2024

CORNELL 6, Princeton 2 … Box Score | Game Recap | Video Highlights
CORNELL 3, Quinnipiac 2 (OT) … Box Score | Game Recap | Video Highlights

I’m very happy with the performance and consistency of our young team. The nine freshmen in the lineup against defending National Champion Quinnipiac on Saturday continued to develop offensively and defensively. Freshman forward Jonathan Castagna scored his first collegiate hat trick and a four-point game on Friday night.
On Friday, we opened the scoring against Princeton at 5:22 of the first period when freshman defenseman Marian Mosko, who recently returned from playing with Team Slovakia in the IIHF World Junior Championships, sent a long pass to junior captain Kyle Penney. He chipped the puck to sophomore forward Nick DeSantis for his first of two goals in the game. We went into the first intermission, 1-0.

Midway through the second period (10:38), Princeton tied the score on a power-play (their power play is ranked third in the country). At 11:19, freshman forward Jonathan Castagna capitalized on a rebound after a faceoff to make it 2-1, with an assist awarded to junior forward Jack O’Leary. Without a line change, Castagna potted his second goal 31 seconds later slicing through the Princeton defense to make the score 3-1. Though we were ahead in the score, we lost our way for about five or six minutes when the game turned into a ‘track-meet’. Princeton is a good hockey team, and you don’t want to give them those advantages.

Midway through the third period, O’Leary made it 4-1, after Castagna and sophomore forward Sullivan Mack put on a great passing effort to set up O’Leary. Three minutes later, Castagna intercepted a errant Princeton pass, and shot the puck into the Tiger net to complete his hat trick. This was the first by a Big Red player since sophomore forward Dalton Bancroft recorded one last year at Madison Square Garden against UConn. It was also the first three-goal performance by a freshman since Ben Berard against Clarkson in 2020. Princeton scored their second goal at 14:42 of the third period. With 1:47 remaining in the game, DeSantis scored into an open net.

Junior goaltender Ian Shane had an easy night with 15 saves, while the Princeton netminder stopped 29 shots. We were 0-for-2 on the power play and Princeton was 1-for-3.
We came ready to play and it was evident right away that we’d learned our lessons and were approaching the game the right way. It was good to score those goals.

On Saturday night, #3 Quinnipiac came into Lynah Rink hungry after losing to Colgate on Friday. The opening 10 minutes of the game was back-and-forth action featuring a 7 ½ minute stretch without a whistle. With only 1:34 left in the period, we took a 1-0 lead when freshman defenseman Hoyt Stanley’s hard shot from the point was deflected by Bancroft through the goalie ‘five-hole’ into the net, sending the Lynah Faithful roaring.

In the second period on a power play, we peppered the Quinnipiac goaltender with five straight shots but didn’t score; then, former Big Red player Zach Tupker, playing as a grad student at Quinnipiac, tallied a shorthanded goal at 10:10. Just 29 seconds later, junior forward Ondrej Psenicka deflected a shot by freshman defenseman George Fegaras for a power-play goal putting us ahead 2-1. At the 13:42 mark of the second period, Quinnipiac was awarded and scored on a penalty shot to tie the score, 2-2, after a Cornell player closed his hand over the puck in the crease. This was the first penalty-shot goal we’ve allowed in 261 games, going back to 2015!

In the third period neither team scored, though we held a 9-3 margin in shots on goal. In the overtime period, Shane kept us in the game with three crucial saves. Ian is just consistent in everything he does. He’s 100 percent focused, allowing him to step up and be such a consistent goaltender and person.

With two minutes remaining in overtime, we really put pressure on the goaltender, controlling the puck in the offensive zone. Bancroft broke to the net, capitalized on open space, and banked a shot off the post into the net setting up a celebration for the Lynah Faithful, the coaching staff, and the team. We have now beaten Quinnipiac on their last four trips to Lynah Rink.
Shane made 22 saves, and the Bobcats netminder stopped 14 shots. We were 1-for-5 on the power play, and they were 0-for-3.

I’m really excited about this team, and I think we can really continue to grow. We’ll take some lessons from this weekend and come back even better. Our record is now 10-4-3 overall, and we are 5-4-1 in the ECAC. We moved up to #13 in the USCHO National Poll and #15 in Pairwise Ranking. This coming weekend, we travel to Harvard on Friday night and Dartmouth on Saturday. As always, the support from alumni and friends is so important, and we appreciate seeing you on the road.

Mike Schafer