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Coach Schafer’s Notes for 12/6/2022

Harvard 2, @CORNELL 1 OT … Box Score | Game Recap | Video Highlights
@CORNELL 1, Dartmouth 0 … Box Score | Game Recap | Video Highlights

This past weekend we played two tough, well-played hockey games with fired up crowds both nights. Friday night’s sellout crowd noise was unreal and the team certainly appreciated the vocal support. The Harvard contest was a tremendous hockey game. We should have put it away in the second period with a number of good chances. It was a shame the game ended like it did.

Senior defenseman Travis Mitchell opened the scoring at 2:14 of the first period, scoring on a shot from the point that sent the crowd into a frenzy. We held the 1-0 lead until 1:36 remaining in the second period when Harvard converted a rebound. I felt the third period was well played but we didn’t do the things that produced scoring chances earlier on.

The ECAC plays a three-on-three format in overtime, which I really hate. It’s not how to decide a game! We don’t practice 3-on-3 a whole lot and we had a couple of guys stay on the ice longer than they should have during overtime. Just a minute in, we turned it over in our offensive zone, which led to a Harvard breakaway by their Montreal top-draft-choice and USA Olympian. Sophomore goaltender Ian Shane made a great save on the initial shot with the puck going up in the rafters. It landed right behind Shane in the crease. A Harvard player found the puck before Shane and scored. It was a disappointing way to lose and anticlimactic for the fans. I would have preferred to see these teams play 5-on-5 for five minutes. It was a tough way to end a great night.

Shane made 21 saves and the Harvard goalie stopped 22 shots. We didn’t manage a power play against the top penalty-killing team in the country and Harvard was 0-for-2. The last four meetings between Harvard have been close games: W 3-1, T1-1, L 2-3, T 2-2. The last four games we played vs. Harvard at Lynah Rink have ended with OT; the two teams combining for just nine goals.

We came back on Saturday night, eager to play against Dartmouth. For the second consecutive night, Travis Mitchell got us the early lead. Junior forward Gabe Seger won a faceoff back to Senior forward Matt Stienburg. Stienburg’s pass to Mitchell at the point resulted in a blast reaching the back of the net just 2:47 into the first period. This was the first time I really sensed that in tight games, we were comfortable with a 1-0 lead and it was the third time in the last three games that we were on the scoreboard in the first three minutes. We just kept playing, limiting their chances and still creating our own. Dartmouth is a hard team to play against. They battle and work hard but we stayed with our game plan. We’re going to be in tight games all year long. It will be like this from now on.

Mitchell’s two goals in consecutive games are the first for a Cornell defenseman since Sam Malinski did it late in the 2019-20 season.

In the first period, we had to kill two penalties but our penalty kill (ranked 7th in the country) only allowed one shot on the two attempts. In the second period, we out shot Dartmouth, 11-1, but couldn’t find the back of the net. The third period was more of the same. Senior forward Jack Malone had a breakaway but was stopped by the 6′-8″ Big Green Freshman goaltender, Cooper Black, who made 26 saves but was pulled for an extra skater for the last three minutes of the game.

Shane was helped by a great defensive team effort and faced just 11 shots for his fifth collegiate shutout. Eleven saves in a shutout were the fewest by a Cornell goalie since Matthew Galajda did the same vs. Alabama-Huntsville in 2017. The defensive corps blocked 18 shots and this was key to the win. We were 0-for-2 on the power play and Dartmouth was 0-for-3. Shane was named ECAC Goalie of the Week.

It was difficult getting ready for Dartmouth after a tough loss on Friday to Harvard but the team was equal to the challenge, limiting Dartmouth to 11 shots. We generated good chances including three breakaways but couldn’t finish. We’re happy to get the win going into winter break.

The first half of this season has been a grind with the long road trips and high-intensity close games. We welcome the time off but still must remain sharp with American International coming to Lynah Rink on Dec. 29-30. AIC has already played 19 games (9-7-3) overall and is 7-5-1 in the Atlantic Hockey Association. They also play two more games before a break.

If you haven’t been to Lynah Rink this year, there should be plenty of seats available for the next two games. The team really feeds off a large home crowd and we look forward to seeing you at Lynah.

Happy Holidays to all. May 2023 be great for you and Cornell hockey!

Mike Schafer