CORNELL 1, @Quinnipiac 0 | CORNELL 4, @Princeton 0
What a great weekend for our team! They played well and it certainly made me feel better from that standpoint. I’m still having issues with my lungs due to COVID and I don’t know when I can get back on the bench. But the boys and the coaching staff were top shelf without me. Their performance this weekend makes me proud to be part of the Cornell Men’s hockey program. We’re back to playing the type of hockey that will lead to success: strong defensively; patient offensively.
We knew it would be a tough road-trip to secure a first-round bye in the ECAC playoffs. Entering the weekend just three points ahead of fifth-place Colgate, we needed at least one point against Quinnipiac to achieve the bye.
In January, we beat the Bobcats (2-1 OT) at Lynah and we knew they would be ready. It helped to score first and what ended up to be the only goal of the night. At 5:58 into the game Junior forward Jack Malone scored on the power play against one of the top penalty-kill teams in the country. Junior defenseman Travis Mitchell blasted a shot from the point and Malone, standing on the doorstep, redirected the shot past the goaltender. Incidently, we also won the game in Ithaca on two power-play goals. After scoring, we had to kill off a penalty with 7:30 left to send us into the locker room, 1-0.
The second period was scoreless even though we were out-shot, 17-7. In the third period our defense really played tough. With 4:38 left in the game, we were assessed a penalty and Quinnipiac pulled their goaltender to get a 6-on-4 advantage. I thought the last five minutes of the game showed how far we have developed this year. The guys were outstanding.
Freshman goaltender Ian Shane, making his 12th collegiate start, came through on Friday night making 42 saves and really hung tough when the Bobcats pulled their goalie. Shane was named ECAC Goalie of the Week. While Shane was stopping everything coming his way, the home team goalie made 17 saves. We were 1-for-2 on the power play and they were 0-for-2.
Give the team credit for competing against Princeton the way they did after a big win on Friday night. Just 46 seconds into the game, Freshman forward Sullivan Mack’s wrist shot from the slot went off the goalies’ blocker to give us a 1-0 lead and his first collegiate goal. Assists were awarded to Junior forward Matt Stienburg and classmate defenseman Sam Malinski. We kept the pressure on for the remainder of the period and again went into the first intermission up 1-0 with 17 shots on goal.
We increased the pressure in the second period holding the Tigers to just four shots against Ian Shane in goal. With four minutes left in the period, Senior forward Kyle Betts fed Junior defenseman Sebastian Dirven as he was headed into the left circle. Dirven blasted a shot that clanged off the post into the net for his first goal of the season.
Taking a 2-0 lead into the third period, we made it 3-0 halfway through on an unassisted goal by Senior forward Liam Motley, his second of the season. With a little over seven minutes left in the third, Princeton pulled their goaltender and Sophomore forward Kyle Penney scored into an open net.
After facing 42 shots on Friday night, Shane needed only 23 saves on Saturday; the Princeton goaltender stopped 30 shots. We were 0-for-3 on the power play and the Tigers were 0-for-4.
This weekend we played hockey the Cornell way and earned a fourth place finish in the ECAC but more importantly, we get a bye next weekend to rest and recover to start the playoffs before the Lynah Faithful on March 11 against an opponent to be determined. The ECAC championship tournament is scheduled for March 18-19 in Lake Placid, NY.