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Coach Schafer’s Notes for 2/18/2020

@CORNELL 5, Union 2 | @CORNELL 4, Rensselaer 2

Anytime you pick up four points on a weekend, it’s a good weekend! With the pair of victories, we extended our win streak to five with two weekends remaining in the regular season. We are tied with Clarkson for first place in the ECAC with 30 points. Our national ranking in both polls remains #2 and #3 in the PAIRWISE comparisons.

We got off to a good start on both nights but from then on the games were completely different. On Friday night, we just weren’t alert on the bench.

We jumped on Union just 2:30 into the game with a goal through traffic by senior defenseman Yanni Kaldis. About 8 minutes later on the power play, junior forward Morgan Barron, scored on his patented one-timer for his 12th goal of the season. After 20 minutes of play, we had out-shot Union 13-1.

A poor second period followed with shots-on-goal 8-5 in our favor. Kaldis scored a power-play goal with 3 minutes before the second intermission. This was our eighth power-play goal in the last four games. After such a good start, it was disappointing that we diverted from the game plan instead of continuing to play simple hockey. Union scored a power-play goat at 18:56 of the second period even though they only had six shots on goal through 40 minutes.

In the third period, we helped them with a number of penalties but our penalty-kill unit showed marked improvement, killing two separate 5-on-3 advantages for the Dutchmen. It was the first game this season that we had to kill a 5-on-3 penalty and we did an awesome job when short-handed. The trio of Barron, Kaldis and junior defenseman Cody Haiskanen blocked a total of six shots during those penalties. With 9:53 to play, Union scored off a rush to make it 3-2 and a hockey game. With 6:13 remaining, the visitors appeared to tie the game, sweeping in a rebound from inside the crease. Upon video review, the goal was overturned because a Union player had made contact with junior goaltender Matthew Galajda before the shot.

Union pulled its goaltender with a couple minutes remaining and we scored two empty-net goals by Barron and freshman forward Jack Malone at 19:36 and 19:41.

Galajda didn’t see much action with nine saves, while the Union goaltender stopped 21 shots. We were 2-for-3 on the power play and the visitors were 1-for-6. We had a pair of two-goal scorers for the first time since March 2018.

The next night against Rensselaer, we again got off to a quick start and didn’t let up as opposed to Friday evening. We didn’t give up that many scoring chances throughout the course of the game and I thought our energy was good.

We opened the scoring at 3:30 of the first period. Senior Noah Bauld swept in a rebound off a shot by sophomore defenseman Joe Leahy. Junior defenseman Alex Green doubled the lead just 18 seconds later for his seventh goal of the season and it gave us a 2-0 lead inside of 4 minutes! On a power play, Kaldis made the score 3-0 with 2:57 remaining in the first period. We ended the period with 15 shots-on-goal compared to 4 for RPI. For his weekend efforts, Yanni was named ECAC Player of the Week. He works so hard at all aspects of the game and will be missed next year.

In the second period, RPI scored the lone goal; the teams were even with 10 shots-on-goal each.

Just 1:40 into the third period, the Engineers scored an even-strength goal on a deflected shot to make it a 3-2 game. They made it a game but our play in the last 40 minutes was much better than the previous evening. RPI is a good hockey team and you have to keep your guard up at all times. We stayed up on our gaps, back-checked hard and just played a more solid game.

Our final goal went into an empty net with 25 seconds remaining. Junior forward Brenden Locke scored his eighth goal of the year with junior forward Tristan Mullin picking up his 10th assist of the year. For Locke, it was his third point of the night.

Galajda was called upon for only 18 saves including nine in the second period. The RPI net-minder stopped 28 shots. We were 1-for-3 on the power play and the visitors were 0-for-1.

The pair of wins clinches a bye for the first round of the playoffs. We will host the best-of-three quarterfinal series March 13-15 against an opponent to-be-determined.

We make our final regular-season road trip this coming weekend to Yale on Friday and Brown on Saturday. There’s always plenty of room for Big Red rooters and we’d appreciate your support this coming weekend.

Mike Schafer