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Coach Schafer’s Notes for 11/23/2021

CORNELL 3, Brown 2 (OT) | CORNELL 3, Yale 0

Obviously, it was another good weekend for our young team in front of an enthusiastic Lynah Rink crowd. With these two wins, we are in sole possession of first place in the ECAC and continue at 10th place in the national rankings. The new 3-on-3 overtime format has been very good for us so far. We are 7-1 with three overtime victories.

On Friday night against Brown, I was disappointed with our play after the first period, though Junior forward Matt Stienburg scored with 59 seconds remaining in the first period, assisted by Senior forward Max Andreev and Freshman defenseman Hank Kempf. Just 21 seconds into the second period we scored to make it 2-0 on a goal by Sophomore forward Kyle Penney for his third goal of the season. The second period reminded me of the Union game. We came out and we were awful on the power play after we went up 2-0. I think they really thought it was going to be easier than it turned out to be. Brown got their first goal at 9:43 of the second, sending us into the final period up 2-1.

In the third period, Brown tied the score at 3:37 and we were in a dogfight. Two minutes after the goal, we had to kill off a 5-minute major penalty. Senior goaltender Nate McDonald was especially effective during the major penalty kill making three saves. We went into the overtime period tied at two.

Overtime didn’t last long. A big hit inside our blue line forced a pass interception by Stienburg who quickly started toward the net, forcing a quick retreat by the Brown defenders. Andreev got the puck and made his way into the slot. His pass for a one-timer by Stienburg from inside the right circle flew past the blocker of the Brown goaltender and into the back of the net at 58 seconds and the Lynah Faithful went crazy. Everybody says an OT win is not really a win. Well, check the noise of the Lynah Faithful. It’s a win. Did we play poorly? No, I don’t think we played poorly. Did we play to our standards? No … we had some guys respond well and some that didn’t.

McDonald made a career-high 30 saves and the Brown goaltender stopped 34 shots. We were 0-for-4 on the power play and they were 1-for-4.

On Saturday night, we didn’t get off to a good start. I don’t know if we thought it was going to be easy because of Yale’s record but we didn’t play fast, didn’t play strong. We didn’t score in the first period against a team that hasn’t won a game this season.

Senior forward Liam Motley ignited the crowd at 6:19 of the middle stanza with his first goal of the season and in the process drew a penalty that led to another goal 35 seconds later by Freshman forward Ondrej Psenicka. Kids like Motley and McDonald are guys that haven’t gotten a lot of ice time in their first few years but they’re such an important part of our program. They persevere, are great teammates and have great attitudes. Players like them are invaluable to our hockey culture. It’s not just the guys that play on a regular basis; it’s the guys that are battling to get ice time.

On the power play, Psenicka tipped a one-timer by Junior defenseman Travis Mitchell into the net for his second goal of the year to make it 2-0 with an assist on the goal by Senior forward Kyle Betts.

In the third period, our second-unit power play struck again. This time Psenicka screened a one-timer by Mitchell to make it 3-0. They just came out, kept it simple, and looked for Ondrej because he is a big screen (6’6”) in front of the goal and it’s hard for the goaltender to see around him.

McDonald made 14 saves and the Yale goaltender stopped 22 shots. We came into the game and asked McDonald to control rebounds, which I thought he did a lot better job on Saturday evening. We were 2-for-6 on the power play and Yale was 0-for-1.

That’s it for our play at Lynah Rink until well into January. Our next nine games are on the road. This coming Saturday is the eighth rendition of Red Hot Hockey against Boston University at 8 pm at Madison Square Garden. It’s always been a fun game for the players and the alumni that turn out have also enjoyed the activities. We wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and look forward to seeing many of you in NYC.

Mike Schafer