On Friday night, I felt our team showed confidence in a big game. Earlier in the year, we had opportunities on the road against BU, Harvard and Clarkson but we didn’t put it all together and wasted some good performances. We talked a lot after the BU game about how we needed to be patient, follow the game plan and be consistent for 60 minutes without weak links in our lineup. Our team played hard on Friday and did so for the majority of the game. It was a good first step to understand how we need to play in these big games.
We had a great sellout crowd and the team really fed off their support. The first half of the first period was a real defensive dogfight with just 13 shots attempted. At the 13:44 mark, we scored first (which was big). Senior forward Ben Berard redirected a shot from the point by senior defenseman Sebastian Dirven into the back of the net. Freshman forward Nick DeSantis was awarded the second assist.
In the first 20 minutes our penalty-kill-unit had to be at their best and they killed off three penalties. They did a good job of blocking shots, getting good clears, and good “PK” forechecks.
We increased our lead to 2-0 at 8:36 of the second period. On the power play, senior forward Max Andreev kept the puck in our offensive zone when Quinnipiac tried to clear. Andreev sent a pass back to senior defenseman Sam Malinski, who in turn, whipped the puck to freshman forward Dalton Bancroft at the bottom of the left circle. Dalton’s one-timer hit the back of the net. Sophomore goaltender Ian Shane kept the score at 2-0, when he backstopped a breakaway shot by a Bobcat player during the middle of the second period.
At 4:33 of the third period, junior forward Jack O’Leary converted a rebound on a shot from senior forward Jack Malone to make the score 3-0. Quinnipiac pulled its outstanding goaltender for an extra-skater but a minute later sophomore forward Ondrej Psenicka made it 4-0 when the new goaltender was caught out of position.
Shane was extremely steady in the net with 21 saves for his second shutout over Quinnipiac in two years and his third shutout this year. Two Bobcat goaltenders combined for 20 saves. We were 1-for-2 on the power play and Quinnipiac was 0-for-3.
The team showed a lot of belief in themselves. Quinnipiac is the gold standard for the league and you have to come ready to play all aspects of the game. In the third period, we didn’t have many breakdowns and I thought we followed the offensive game plan carefully. The last seven minutes were probably the best defense we have played.
Princeton came into Lynah Rink hungry after being humbled by Colgate on Friday evening. And, I was concerned with the level of energy, focus and work ethic we would show after an emotional win on Friday and we did struggle in those areas. Princeton played really hard after getting beat at Colgate.
Capitalizing on a Princeton penalty at the 13:37 mark of the opening period, junior forward Gabe Seger returned to the scoring column by redirecting a Malinski shot from the point . With the assist, Malinski extended his point streak to six games, which is the longest by a Big Red defenseman since Alex Green (now playing in the AHL in Chicago) did it in 2019. With less than two minutes remaining in the opening period, Princeton tied the score as the shooter put back his own rebound.
The score remained 1-1 until the 15:18 mark of the second period when freshman forward Sean Donaldson fired a one-timer from the right faceoff dot to beat the Princeton goaltender on the short side for our second power-play-goal. The visitors answered with a power-play-goal of their own at 17:52 to send the game into the third period tied at 2.
Our power-play saved the day at 6:26 of third period. Dalton Bancroft scored the game-winner with assists to Malinski and Andreev. We hadn’t scored three power-play-goals in a game since the 2019-20 regular-season final game against Clarkson.
Shane made 28 saves and the Princeton net-minder made 23. We were 3-for-4 on the power play and the Tigers were 1-for-2. That’s good disciplined hockey. We need to build and learn even more from these experiences.
Three players won ECAC awards this past week. Sam Malinski was named Defensive Player of the Week, Ian Shane Goaltender of the Week, and Dalton Bancroft First-Year Player of the Week.
Next weekend we travel to Dartmouth on Friday night and to #10 Harvard on Saturday evening. Cornell moved from 16th to 11th this week and we are tied for 10th with Harvard in the PairWise Rankings. We hope to see some Cornell Red at Thompson Arena in Hanover, NH and, of course, at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center, aka “Lynah East” on Saturday night in Cambridge, MA.