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Coach Schafer’s Notes for 3/19/2024

CORNELL 4, Harvard 3 … Box Score | Game Recap | Video Highlights
CORNELL 4, Harvard 1 … Box Score | Game Recap | Video Highlights

You’ve heard of “A Tale of Two Cities” but this past weekend you saw “The Tale of Two Nights”. On Friday night, our energy got us off to a quick start, and it was great for the crowd when we scored early to take a 4-0 lead.

At 4:30 of the first period, freshman defenseman Ben Robertson caused a Harvard turnover inside the neutral zone to set up junior forward Jack O’Leary for a shot from the top of the left face-off circle that ricocheted off the skate of a Harvard player into the net. Three minutes later in a scramble in front of the Harvard goal, freshman forward Jonathan Castagna chipped the puck back to junior forward Sullivan Mack who backhanded it into the goal. Finally, with 39 seconds remaining in the first period, freshman forward Ryan Walsh snapped a shot from the left faceoff circle beating the Harvard netminder high on his glove side. The team went into the locker room feeling great!

We came out for the second period, and on the power play at 5:12, tacked on a fourth goal by sophomore forward Nick DeSantis. At 12:37 of the second period, Harvard made the score 4-1, which started a string of three unanswered goals by the visitors. At this point, we had played well for the first 30 minutes and still continued with okay play. When Harvard scored goal #2 at 4:49 of the third period, the visitors got some push, and we were inconsistent. When we had the 4-0 lead, we stopped moving our feet defensively and offensively we didn’t stay aggressive on the fore-check or play with poise. The visitors made it 4-3 at 13:39 on Joe Miller’s second goal of the night, and kept the pressure on until the end of the game.

When we had a 4-0 lead, we didn’t pay attention to the small details and our intensity dropped off. Things like picking up sticks in front of the net, taking care of the puck coming through the neutral zone, and seeing your teammate play great defense to set up an offensive opportunity, but not reacting to it.

Junior goalie Ian Shane made 22 saves including a spectacular sprawling save on a one-timer with under 50 seconds remaining. The Harvard netminder stopped 19 shots. We were 1-for-3 on the power play and they were 0-for-3.

Saturday night was a different story. We played a complete game and did an excellent job in all those areas that weren’t so great the night before. We payed attention to details for 60 minutes. We were patient and disciplined in all the things we talked about after the Friday game. I was really proud how the team came ready to play the second evening.

At 15:10 of the first period, Ben Robertson scored on a back-handed shot into the top left corner of the net for the only goal in the first period. At 14:44 of the second period, aggressive play in front of the net paid off with a second goal by senior forward Gabriel Seger off a rebound of a shot from junior forward Kyle Penney.

Harvard scored at 7:01 of the third period to cut our lead to 2-1. With their goaltender pulled in the final minutes of the game, Roberson scored on a long shot after Gabe Seger won a faceoff at center ice. Seger put the icing on the cake with another empty-netter with 24 seconds remaining. Seger, a Union transfer as a junior two seasons ago, now has 39 points. He is the first Cornell player to reach that mark in his first two seasons with the Big Red since Ryan Hughes did it as a sophomore in 1990-91.

Each goaltender made 21 saves on Saturday night. We were 1-for-2 on the power play and Harvard was 0-for-1.

On Saturday night, I thought our young players were ready to play, execute and compete. They did the extra things that make a difference in a hockey game.

We have earned another trip to the ECAC Tournament in Lake Placid on the upcoming Friday and Saturday night. Friday night at 7:30 we play a semi-final game against Dartmouth, a team we have played two tough games against during the regular season. At home, we tied 2-2 and won the shootout, then had another 2-2 tie at their rink but lost the shootout. The ECAC Championship game at 5 pm on Saturday will be the winner of our semi-final vs. the winner of the Quinnipiac – St. Lawrence semi-final.

We’ve always have great fan support at the ECAC Tournament and look forward to a sea of red at the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid.

Mike Schafer