CORNELL 4, @Clarkson 2 | CORNELL 6, @St Lawrence 1
What a great weekend! When they told me this was our first North Country sweep since 2005, I couldn’t believe it, but I have always known that this is an extremely tough road trip. You can’t let your guard down either night.
We have tremendous team depth right now. Three different players scored their first goals of the season on Friday night at Clarkson. Junior goaltender Matthew Galajda was rock-solid. When we needed him, he made some big saves on partial breakaways when we turned pucks over.
There was no scoring in the first period even though Clarkson out-shot us by 15-8. Both teams had some great chances and both goalies were up to the task. Late in the second period, in a span of 7 minutes each team scored two goals. Freshman defenseman Travis Mitchell opened the scoring with his first collegiate goal at 11:25. Less than 3 minutes later, senior forward Jeff Malott snapped a close-in shot past the goaltender’s glove to make it 2-0. Two minutes later, Clarkson recorded a power-play goal and tied the score at 18:05. So, once again we went into the locker room tied. The penalty kill isn’t to our standard right now but at the same time you have to tip your hat to a great play made by Clarkson to generate their goal.
Talking about playing our game was the theme of the night and we came out for the third period calm and played with much more poise. The winning goal came on our first power play at 10:26 of the third period. Junior defenseman Alex Green fired a one-timer that was blocked by a defender, but Green was able to regain possession and bumped the puck to junior forward Cam Donaldson in the slot. His long backhand pass to the right circle set up a one-timer from freshman forward Ben Berard. The shot was saved but it left Donaldson alone on the back post to flip the rebound into the wide side of the vacated net. Sophomore forward Michael Regush made it 4-2 with an empty-net goal with 1:27 remaining in the game.
Galajda was a stalwart with 29 saves and our guys played well in front of him. The Clarkson goalie stopped 27 shots. We were 1-for-1 on the power play, and Clarkson was 1-for-2. This was a hard-fought game and I thought our guys responded every step of the way. I like the balance on our team right now because guys can step up and are successful.
It’s just a short bus-ride for our next opponent in the North Country. You hardly have time to catch your breath. We played St. Lawrence in the SUNY Canton Ice Arena because the Saints are renovating their building. Playing back-to-back games against these two teams on their home ice is not just another day at the office. You need to be ready to skate and stay in the moment. We did that in the second and third periods, but not the first. That was a good lesson for us.
Our first goal came just 3:36 into the first period. Freshman defenseman Sam Malinski angled a pass off the right boards to Donaldson. On a 2-on-1 break, Donaldson skated into the circle before dishing it off to junior forward Morgan Barron coming down the slot. Barron’s shot went into the wide side of the net for his sixth goal of the season. St. Lawrence tallied a power-play goal at 14:03 of the first period to tie the score and we went into the first intermission 1-1.
We didn’t even talk about adjustments between the first and second periods. We needed to get to work and play with some pace and get back that intensity that we had the previous night at Clarkson. We came out fast to start the second period, recorded the first 14 shots on goal and won 18 of 25 faceoffs. We were the aggressor and applied tremendous pressure on the home team. At 13:00 of the second period, junior defenseman Alex Green scored on the power play converting a shot from the slot over the goaltender’s glove. That was a big goal by Alex on the power play. It just got us going, and was good to see.
We didn’t have consistency line to line but we got it going with four lines rolling in the second period. I was happy to see our guys put the pedal to the metal. Two more goals were scored with senior defenseman Yanni Kaldis getting the first one at 14:56 and sophomore forward Liam Motley on a break-away at 16:01. We went into the locker room leading 4-1 at the second intermission.
It didn’t take long to make it 6-1. Senior forward Kyle Betts tacked on a power-play goal at 56 seconds of the third period. Junior forward Brenden Locke made it 6-1, 27 seconds later. Locke’s goal gave us 10 different goal-scorers for our 10 goals on the weekend! Galajda needed to make only 15 saves, while the St. Lawrence goaltender stopped 29 shots. We were 2-for-5 on the power play and they were 1-for-2. Going into the weekend, we led the nation with a 42.3% success rate on the power play and we now have scored a least one extra-man tally in each of our six games for the first time since 2009-10.
We have moved up to No. 2 in the USCHO poll. Saturday night’s game was a good lesson for us because every opponent is gong to be a tough game. At St. Lawrence, it was tough getting started, but once we realized how we need to play every night, the ball got rolling. We’re back home this coming weekend. Quinnipiac comes to Lynah Rink on Friday night and Princeton on Saturday evening.
Hope to see you at these two home games.