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Coach Schafer’s Notes for 12/10/2019

CORNELL 3, @Harvard 1 | @Dartmouth 2, CORNELL 1

The winning streak is over. Now it’s back to playing Big Red hockey and starting another streak. Our play in the two games this weekend was quite different. Early in the season our power play was No. 1 in the country, but now we haven’t had an extra-man goal in five games (0-19). We’ve always been great killing penalties but we need to improve that too.

At Harvard, we played the No.1 scoring team in the nation and held them to one goal. This season we typically have a slow first period but we flipped the switch in this one. Shots on goal in the first period were 17-4 in our favor and the score was 2-0 after 20 minutes of play. This was the ninth time this season we scored the first goal of the game.

At the 5:28 mark, senior forward Jeff Malott scored his third goal of the season. Malott fired a shot on goal and the rebound came out. Jeff whirled around to blindly throw a backhand shot under the Harvard goalie to put us up 1-0. With 54 seconds to go in the period, junior forward Brenden Locke tallied his fifth goal this year. Some hard work around the net by junior Tristan Mullin led to the puck bouncing to the top of the crease where Locke slammed it past the goaltender.

Freshman defenseman Travis Mitchell scored his second collegiate goal at 5:07 into the second period to make it 3-0. Travis had a great night vs. Harvard. At this point, we had a 22-4 lead in shots on goal. Harvard took a timeout after Mitchell’s goal to regroup and it seemed to work. The Crimson scored their only goal two minutes later on a power play. After their timeout, they started doing things differently and it took a while for us to adjust. I think we wanted a fourth goal rather than pay attention to their changes. I thought we got going again in the third and started to control some things. We had some long shifts in our own zone but I thought we kept them on the perimeter and back on the blue line.

Junior goaltender Matthew Galajda had his usual strong game stopping 23 shots, including 15 in the third period. The Harvard goalie made 29 saves. We were 0-for 4 on the power play and they were 1-for-2.

The 10th straight win was the first time since the great national championship team went all the way with 29 straight. I believe our success can be attributed to our depth in practice. We’ve got guys chomping at the bit to get into the game lineup. At the same time, they are great kids. There’s no moping by anyone. They know we are off to a great start and they continue to try to improve, which in turn, makes us more consistent and our team better.

All that changed the next night at Dartmouth in our last game of the fall semester. We were held scoreless in the second period for the first time this season. We entered the third period trailing for the first time this year and we had 40 shot on goal for the first time. We also had five more power plays than an opponent for the first time this season. This added up to our first loss of the season!

I just don’t think we were as sharp as we’ve been as a group. Even though we had a lot of scoring chances during the game, Dartmouth did the job on special teams to beat us. From in net to our blue line, to our forwards, we didn’t have the edge to overcome a night where we couldn’t capitalize on our chances.

We had an excellent opportunity to take a lead inside the first minute on a shorthanded breakaway by Malott, but the goalie made the save. Ninety seconds later, Dartmouth took a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal. We answered when junior forward Morgan Barron scored his team-leading seventh goal with 23 second remaining in the period. Mitchell carried the puck to the middle before taking a shot that hit traffic in the slot. The puck bounced into the right circle where Barron pounced on it and buried a shot under the crossbar.

The Big Green came out flying for the second period and scored just 45 seconds into playing time. No more goals were scored during the rest of the game. It was the first time we have been out-scored in the middle period this season.

In the third period, we out shot Dartmouth, 21-5 but couldn’t put the puck in the net. We hit a lot of goal posts, missed a breakaway, and had a 3-on-1 where we didn’t even take a shot. That’s just a symptom of not being fully prepared and was a big mistake on our part at Dartmouth. We had five of the game’s six power plays and got off 10 shots on target over those stretches but came up empty each time.

Galajda had an easy night with 15 saves with just two in the first period. Their goalie stopped 39 shots! We were 0-for-5 on the power play and Dartmouth was 1-for-1.

I’m really disappointed we finished the first semester with a loss but just the same, I am very proud of our players. But we’ll park it, get to work and try to do some of the things necessary to get better as a hockey team.

We remain in sole possession of first place in ECAC Hockey, as Colgate beat Harvard on Saturday evening. The Ivy League has a three-way tie between Cornell, Dartmouth and Harvard, all with 4-1 records.

We’re off for four weeks for final exams and a holiday break. Late in December, we will get together to prepare for the Fortress Invitational in Las Vegas. The tournament starts Friday afternoon, January 3rd with Providence against Army West Point. We play the second game at 8 p.m. (Pacific Time) against an excellent team from Ohio State and either Providence or Army West Point the following day.

This is an excellent opportunity for our West Coast alumni/fans to see our hockey team. I know there are Alumni gatherings being planned. Hope to see a large Big Red contingent in Las Vegas.

To all, we wish you Happy Holidays, and may 2020 be filled with joy and happiness for all.

Mike Schafer