LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Harvard goaltender Merrick Madsen made 25 saves to stymie the Cornell men’s hockey team on Saturday night, as the Crimson skated away with a 4-1 victory in the ECAC Hockey Championship game at 1980 Rink – Herb Brooks Arena.
Freshman forward Jeff Malott scored his sixth goal of the season to get Cornell (21-8-5) on the board with 1:17 left in the game. Senior forward Jake Weidner set up the play with a feed from behind the net.
Despite the loss, Cornell is in position to earn an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament next weekend. The Big Red will learn its first-round opponent and the regional in which it will placed at noon Sunday. The NCAA’s selection show will be aired on ESPNU.
As it did in Friday’s semifinal victory over Union, third-seeded Cornell came out and established an early edge on Saturday against top-seeded Harvard (26-5-2). By drawing the game’s first power play, the Big Red was able to generate a few chances with good net presence, but nothing that could beat Madsen.
Just after the man advantage, senior forward Eric Freschi delivered a crushing check on Harvard’s Ryan Donato. Senior forward Jake Weidner flattened Donato again late in the frame — but in between, Donato gave the Crimson the lead.
Working on its second power play of the frame, created by a hooking penalty to prevent an odd-man rush, Donato scored on a lengthy shot from the center point that sailed through traffic in front and bounced into the net at the 14:41 mark.
Madsen figuratively ran with the lead. Madsen made a glove save on Weidner as he cut through the slot late in the first period, then Cornell turned up the pressure in the second. The Big Red had seven shots on goal below the hash marks and inside the faceoff dots in the middle frame alone.
At the other end, the Crimson had just two — but it converted one for the game’s next goal. With 3:51 left before intermission, Harvard gained possession behind the Big Red net and Sean Malone set up Luke Esposito for a backhand in tight that beat Gillam off the near post. Cornell answered with a frenzied push in the remaining minutes of the frame, but Madsen and the defense staved them off.
As if things couldn’t get any worse for the Big Red, a bad bounce gifted the Crimson a third goal and blew the game open. A dump-in rattled the glass, but hit a stanchion and popped back into the slot as Gillam rounded behind the net to play it. Michael Floodstrand pounded it into the vacated net. Donato later added another goal on a power play to push the score to 4-0.
After the game, ECAC Hockey announced an all-tournament team including senior defenseman Patrick McCarron. An alternate captain, McCarron had an assist on the game-winning goal Friday against Union.
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