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Coach Schafer’s Notes for 4/2/2024

CORNELL 3, Maine 1 … Box Score | Game Recap | Video Highlights
Denver 2, CORNELL 1 … Box Score | Game Recap | Video Highlights

We played our hearts out this weekend. In both games we did everything possible to win, and one day we did, and the next we did not.

On Thursday, our game with Maine was delayed 90 minutes when first game needed double overtime for Denver to beat U-Mass. Our biggest worry was how our nine freshmen would react in their first NCAA competition, and then at 5:03 of the first period Maine scored the first goal. The first period was tough because we had to kill off a 5-minute penalty for checking from behind. Our tough penalty kill unit held strong, blocked many shots, and we had a couple of key saves by junior goaltender Ian Shane. These young men kept the pressure on despite a strong Maine fore-check. The penalty kill and aggressive play were the turning points of the game. It paid off at 13:56, when senior forward Gabriel Seger hung on to the puck to pull the Maine goaltender out of position, and then passed to junior captain Kyle Penney who blasted the puck over the shoulder of the goaltender to tie the game, 1-1.

In the second period, we had our only power play opportunity of game, and we kept the pressure on, but couldn’t score. That drought ended at 12:09 of the second period. After a failed Maine clearing attempt, junior forward Sullivan Mack snapped off a shot from the left side of the right faceoff circle beating the goalie low on the blocker side for an unassisted goal to put us in front, 2-1. We kept pressure on the goaltender, narrowing the gap in shots on goal from the first period.

Maine came out with fire to start the third period, but we seemed to have an answer for everything. Our young team played with confidence and composure. Halfway through the third period, Mack tallied his second unassisted goal of the game with a low bomb that flew past the goalie and basically put the game in our win column. We played physically and kept their top scorers in check. When you have the last change, everybody’s got to be aware. You don’t want to let their two brothers [freshmen Josh and Bradly Nadeau] get on the rush because they can create magic between themselves. I don’t think we allowed a 2-on-1 break when they were on the ice.

Shane made 31 saves, while the Maine goalie stopped 15 shots. Both teams were 0-for-1 on the power play.

On Saturday after a day off, we played #3 Denver, and it was a tough contest for 60 minutes. Play was going well for us in the first period, when sophomore forward Nick DeSantis scored for us at 6:44 to give us an important 1-0 lead. Assists were given to Seger and Penney. With 1:32 remaining in the opening period, Denver made it a 1-1 score from a player scoring his first goal of the season.

The winning goal came with five seconds remaining in the second period, when Denver scored on the power play. We had plenty of scoring opportunities in the third period but couldn’t get the puck past a very good Denver goaltender.

Shane made 16 saves for us, while the Denver goalie stopped 24 shots. We were 0-for-1 on the power play, they were 1-for-2.
Sullivan Mack and freshman defenseman Ben Robertson were named to the All-Tournament team with the rest of the tournament roster from the Denver program.

It’s always tough when the season ends, but our young team must be proud of its 22-7-6 record, winning the ECAC Tournament, and returning the Whitelaw Cup to Ithaca. I know I am very proud of this group of young men! They have accomplished so much. And with only two seniors graduating, we have a lot to look forward to in the 2024-25 season.

Thank you to all our most dedicated fans and alumni. You were with us home and away, and the guys appreciated your support. So many people work very hard all year long. The assistant coaches, equipment manager, trainers, strength and conditioning coach, and volunteers. Their attitude and work ethic are the backbone of our program. They work very hard for our student-athletes and support them in many ways. We already look forward to having you with us next season.

Mike Schafer