CORNELL 3, AK-Fairbanks 2 (OT); CORNELL 1, AK-Fairbanks 0 (OT)
Obviously, this was one of the toughest opening weekends we have faced in a long, long time. They were a tough team that played hard at both ends. We saw a lot of good things but also much that needed improvement. Before the game, we talked with other coaches, so we knew they played hard and had excellent goaltending.
On Friday night, I wasn’t pleased with our performance. We talked about setting the standard and traveling in packs. We left each other out on an island and we didn’t get better during the game. I guess this is to be expected with 14 newcomers in the lineup. During the game we looked tired and that can come from being too emotional or playing too much. The scoreboard showed 0-0 after the first period, but at 4:58 of the second, AK-Fairbanks went up 1-0. A minute later, freshman forward Ondrej Psenicka redirected a shot on goal from junior forward Zach Tucker for his first collegiate goal. The visitors jumped back in front, 2-1, 22 seconds later as a shot bounced off two Cornell players into our net.
Halfway through the third period with the scored tied at two, senior forward Kyle Betts was credited with an unassisted goal, as his forecheck at the side of the net forced an AK-Fairbanks defenseman’s pass to bank the puck off his own goaltender’s skate into their net.
Overtime in college hockey has a new system of 3-on-3 play for the extra period. We won the faceoff and never relinquished the puck. Junior defenseman Sam Malinski sent a beautiful pass from the top of the left circle to senior forward Brenden Locke crashing towards the far post. Locke’s deflection went high inside the far post for the game-winner.
On Saturday night, everything you need to know happened in the second consecutive overtime! With 8.4 seconds remaining in the third period, a five-minute major penalty was called when junior forward Matt Stienburg collided with a visiting player at center ice. With Matt down on the ice, the video replay showed contact to the head and the AK-Fairbanks player was penalized and sent to the locker room. Fortunately, Matt was not seriously injured and was able to play into overtime. As the penalty carries into overtime, we had an extra player and skated 4-on-3. Senior forward Max Andreev worked the puck from high in the offensive zone to junior forward Ben Berard at the bottom of the right circle. As the defenders shifted, Stienburg moved away from the top of the crease into the low slot for a pass from Berard. Matt’s one-timer beat the goaltender to the stick side for the gamewinner, making our record 2-0.
Freshman goaltender Joe Howe made his first collegiate start and was outstanding with 20 saves; the visitors’ goaltender made 24 saves. Joe controlled rebounds and played the puck a couple times to help us break out of the zone. I thought he did a really good job. We need to improve our power play as we were only 1-for-9 for the weekend. This coming weekend we travel to Harvard and Dartmouth. I feel the Alaska series will prepare us well. Harvard, once again, has outstanding forwards who have scored 16 goals in their first two games. Dartmouth has a new coach and we know they will be working hard to get better from their 0-2 start. Below are links to the video highlights from the games.