Well-Traveled #2 Cornell Men’s Hockey Scraps Out 3-3 Tie at Union
SCHENECTADY, N.Y. – A long and winding road through the first half of the regular season for the Cornell men’s hockey team ended with a long and winding tie. Junior forward Tristan Mullin had a goal and an assist for a second straight night, and the Big Red scored twice in the third period to escape Messa Rink with a 3-3 tie against Union on Saturday night.
Despite becoming the last team in the nation to surrender three goals in a game, Cornell (12-1-2, 8-1-1 ECAC Hockey) maintains its perch at #1 in the Pairwise Comparison Ratings – which are used to determine and seed the NCAA tournament field in late March. Meanwhile, Clarkson defeated Quinnipiac, 5-2, to take a one-point lead for first place in the league standings – though the Big Red still has one game in hand.
But when you’re shaping up to being one of the best teams in the country and preparing for what hopes to be a lengthy postseason run, ‘all’s well that ends well’ doesn’t exactly apply. Thus, the Big Red leaves the Capital District more with the feeling that Saturday’s result was a point lost – not a point earned.
“Our guys fought back and got the tie after going down twice and did a good job there,” said Mike Schafer ’86, the Jay R. Bloom ’77 Head Coach of Men’s Hockey at Cornell. “But I think that overall, we just made some technical mistakes we’ve got to correct and get back to work.”
At the head of that list may very well be the penalty kill, which was touched up for two Union goals on just three chances. Cornell’s penalty kill is now ranked 58th of 60 teams in the nation at a success rate of just 72.9% — a long ways from its traditional home among the best in the nation.
Parker Foo scored the first power-play goal for Union (6-15-2, 4-7-1) late in the second period to give the hosts a 2-1 lead entering the third. The Big Red tied the game just 1:23 into the frame when freshman defenseman Sebastian Dirven set up Mullin for a shot from the top of the crease that ultimately went off sophomore forward Michael Regush’s shin pad and into the net. The assist was Dirven’s first collegiate point.
Union regained the lead on Gabriel Seger’s power-play goal with 10:51 to play in regulation time, but Cornell equalized again just 38 seconds later. Junior forward Brenden Locke finished off an odd-man rush with a backhand past the glove of Union goaltender Darion Hanson for his seventh goal of the season.
Junior Matthew Galajda made 19 saves in the tie, but was called upon to make some key stops after the Dutchmen got on the board. While Mullin’s goal just 3:19 into the game got Cornell started, the home side responded with Vas Kolias’ rebound goal after a solid Galajda stop to tie the game. It was just the ninth even-strength goal surrendered by Cornell in 14 games.
Having now entered the second half of its regular season, Cornell – which entered the weekend ranked second nationally in both the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls – continues to carry the nation’s best winning percentage (.867), despite playing 11 of its first 15 games away from home. The Big Red returns to Ithaca for nine of its last 14, starting with a two-game non-league series next weekend against Northern Michigan at Lynah Rink.
“If you had told me at the start of the year that we’re going to play (11) of our first (15) away from Lynah Rink and we’d be that (12-1-2), I’d say I’ll take it. I’d be really happy,” Schafer said. “But I think it’s just a game-by-game (process) of analyzing things. We did some things that we didn’t do right last night, and that carried over to tonight. Now we’ve got a chance to get home and get it rectified and back to where we need to go to.”