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Coach Schafer’s Notes for 3/5/2024

Union 3, #13 CORNELL 2 … Box Score | Game Recap | Video Highlights
#13 CORNELL 3, RPI 1 … Box Score | Game Recap | Video Highlights

On Friday night, I felt we came to play. Unfortunately, of three goals scored by Union, two were deflected into the net off our guys. We had some excellent offensive chances alone in front of the net but we didn’t score.

We came out roaring and scored a goal on our first shot! Freshman forward Jonathan Castagna deked the goaltender and tucked the puck in the back of the net at 1:37 into the game for his third goal and fifth point against Union this season. We took two stupid penalties in the offensive zone resulting in a pair of Union goals at 3:41 and 9:03, respectively. The second goal was only Union’s fourth shot on the night. We went into the first intermission down, 2-1.

In the second period, the Union goaltender made some great saves, but at 15:23, senior forward Gabriel Seger tied the score, 2-2. On the power play, freshman forward Ryan Walsh sent a cross-ice pass to a wide open Seger beating the netminder to tie the game at 2-all. Union regained the lead, 3-2, with a goal with 1:03 remaining in the second period. Shame on us because we didn’t get back and defend. Seger’s goal was his 35th point of the season, marking the most by a Cornell player since Colin Greening (15-20-35) and Riley Nash (12-23-35), both in 2009-10.

In the third period, we began pressing. We hit a couple of goalposts, but to no avail. Union kept creating offensive chances and we didn’t do a good job on defense. We lost our way understanding we need to be a really good defensive team. You can study all the offense you want, but we’re not doing the job on defense.

We were 1-for-3 on the power play and Union was 2-for-2. Junior goaltender Ian Shane made 18 saves and the Union goaltender stopped 21 shots.

On Saturday night, we played a complete game and got it done on Senior Night! We made some changes after Friday night’s game because guys weren’t listening. And, I thought we gave up few offensive chances to RPI. Just 6:48 into the first period, on a 2-on-1, Castagna shot the puck on net and the rebound found junior forward Jack O’Leary coming in from the other side to make the goal. At 14:01 of the first period, freshman forward Jake Kraft made it 2-0, stuffing home a rebound in front of the crease. Midway through the second period, we went up 3-0 on a wrap-around goal by junior forward Sullivan Mack with Castagna collecting the assist. Kraft appeared to score again but RPI challenged the goal for goaltender interference and it was disallowed.

RPI spoiled the shutout with a goal, converting a rebound at 18:16 of the third period. The Engineers pulled their goaltender near the end of the game, but our defense and Shane held them off the board.

Shane made 21 saves and the RPI netminder stopped 25 shots. We were 0-for-5 on the power play and they were 0-for-1. The victory solidified our second place standing in the ECAC and a bye in the first round of playoffs.

We finished the regular season #13 in the Division I Poll, 17-6-6 overall (12-6-4 ECAC), won the Ivy League, beat #2 Boston University at Madison Square Garden, went 5-0-2 against non-conference teams, and placed second in the ECAC. We accomplished all this with nine freshmen in the lineup most nights. For some reason, I feel we could have been better but I recognize the youth of our team.

The bye week gives us time to regain our health, which has been a real obstacle the past few weeks. We look forward to the quarterfinals starting March 15 at Lynah Rink. Our opponent to be determined after the opening round competition this weekend. Hope to see you at Lynah Rink in about 10 days for the best-of-three series.

Mike Schafer