Icemen Make Quick Work of Quinnipiac in Quarterfinals
No. 2 Men’s Hockey Obliterates Quinnipiac in Opening Game of Quarterfinals
By Dylan McDevitt
Sun Sports Editor
It was a bloodbath at Lynah Rink in game one of the ECAC quarterfinals.
Of Cornell hockey’s 18 skaters, 14 had at least one point as the Red demoralized Quinnipiac by a score of 9-1 to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.
“I think our guys were pretty focused throughout the course of the night,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “They did a lot of things that we talked about going into the weekend.”
Junior defenseman Alec McCrea, the newly-minted ECAC defensive defenseman of the year, kicked things off for Cornell just 1:47 into the first period. The Bobcats tied it up on a power play goal by Tanner MacMaster not long thereafter, but that would be all for the Quinnipiac scoresheet.
Cornell took the lead once more on a goal from senior forward Alex Rauter and never looked back, steamrolling its opponent goal after goal. The Red added another goal with under a minute left in the first to take a 3-1 lead into the intermission.
In his first game back from a month of injury, junior forward Mitch Vanderlaan scored twice to help his team take a commanding victory.
“I felt good physically,” Vanderlaan said. “First game in a while, there were some jitters, but got those out pretty quick.”
Schafer spoke highly of the return of his star forward and the impact that it had on the team.
“[Vanderlaan] is our captain and a leader,” he said. “I thought he set the tone.”
It seemed like the first time in ages that Cornell turned in a healthy line sheet after several players had been sidelined with various injuries in the final weeks of the regular season.
“It was definitely helpful to have some guys back,” said junior forward Beau Starrett. “It helps seeing [Vanderlaan] work because he’s one of the players to … lead by example.”
Cornell seemed to benefit from the bye week that it had earned after securing the conference’s top seed, allowing some much-needed rejuvenation.
“I felt like the week off gave us some jump to our legs and got some guys healthy that had been in and out of the lineup,” Schafer said.
What’s more, the week off also seemed to present an opportunity for the team as a whole to get some rest and enter the playoffs ready to roll — evident in its nine-goal performance.
“I think the bye week gave everybody on the team some fresher legs,” Vanderlaan said. “So everyone was full of energy tonight and it paid off.”
Cornell took a five-goal lead 11:16 into the second period, when Vanderlaan’s second tally of the game made it 6-1 in favor of Cornell. At that point, Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold had decided to pull his starting netminder, Keith Petruzzelli, in favor of Josh Mayanja.
Mayanja found no luck against the potent Cornell offense either, and when the second intermission finally provided the Bobcats with a much-needed break in play, the Red had potted six goals in the frame and sported a 9-1 lead.
One of the Red’s most successful groups was its fourth line of senior Jared Fiegl, Starrett and sophomore Jeff Malott. The group posted three goals on the night — two by Starrett and one by Malott — while Feigl added a pair of assists.
“Guys were rolling,” Starrett said. “We have to keep our legs going, keep working them and finishing checks and keep that going for a full 60 minutes of the game and we’ll be successful.”
Entering Friday’s game, Quinnipiac had found great success on the power play towards the end of the regular season, scoring a goal on 25.8 percent of its extra-man opportunities in the month of February. Cornell successfully killed 4 of 5 penalties to keep the Bobcats at bay.
“[Quinnipiac has] always had great special teams,” Schafer said. “We knew that they are definitely a team you don’t want to get into a special teams war with.”
In the third period, which saw no further scoring, Schafer subbed out starting goaltender freshman Matt Galajda in favor of senior Hayden Stewart, who had started the last game of the regular season after Cornell had clinched the No. 1 seed in the ECAC playoffs.
“[We’re] thinking about tomorrow night,” Schafer said. “Both teams understand it’s a series, and trying to keep guys fresh for the next game.”
Cornell is now one win away from reaching ECAC Championship weekend at Lake Placid next week. If the team can get the job done tomorrow night, the Red will make its second consecutive trip to the conference semifinals.
“We’re going to definitely look to finish the series tomorrow,” Vanderlaan said. “But we’re not focusing on the end goal; we’re just going to take it shift by shift.”
The Red’s first chance to finish the series comes Saturday when the teams square off for game two at 7 p.m. at Lynah.
Stifling Defense Sends No. 2 Men’s Hockey to Lake Placid With Sweep of Quinnipiac
By Raphy Gendler
Sun Assistant Sports Editor
Just 24 hours after a nine-goal thrashing of Quinnipiac, Cornell men’s hockey earned a much closer victory against the Bobcats to secure a two-game sweep and earn a trip to the ECAC Championship weekend in Lake Placid.
After subjecting Quinnipiac to a throttling 9-1 victory in game one, it didn’t come nearly as easily Saturday, but Cornell men’s hockey dispatched the Bobcats in two games after earning a 2-0 victory in game two.
Freshman goaltender Matt Galajda’s ninth shutout, key shot-blocking and some clutch Cornell penalty killing were the keys in a Red victory.
An overall dominant performance by the nation’s best defense did the job in securing victory in a game that at one point looked to be getting away from a squad that entered the game 18-0-0 in contests when it led after two periods.
“I just try to battle through traffic [and] see some pucks, but I owe it all to the guys,” Galajda said. “They were blocking shots everywhere tonight on the penalty kill and they did an unbelievable job.”
In the third period, the Red, clinging to a 1-0 lead, faced its greatest test of the series — and maybe the season. Junior forward Anthony Angello was assessed a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct, which carried with it an ejection. The Red killed the penalty, without its top scorer.
“Our guys gutted it out and blocked a lot of shots,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “ We know that playing Quinnipiac they’ve got a tremendous power play … [Our players] sacrificed themselves and blocked a lot of shots to keep them off the board.”
After mustering just one shot on goal in the first period, Cornell struck quickly in the second as senior forward and captain Alex Rauter buried a rebound.
“[Quinnipiac] did exactly what we thought they would do,” Schafer said. “They came out, they played hard, they played physical. They’re a very prideful team and we knew that’s what was going to happen.”
Freshman forward Kyle Betts assisted on both Cornell goals. Rauter put a rebound of Betts’ shot past Quinnipiac goaltender Keith Petruzzelli for the game’s first goal, and Vanderlaan buried one from Betts in the third.
“The second period we knew we wanted to come out a little harder, and it was huge that we got that goal,” Rauter said. “Kyle Betts made a great play coming down the wing … it was a great momentum boost for sure.”
Vanderlaan left Quinnipiac’s Nick Jermain face-down on the ice after a big hit near the Cornell blue line and was called for a game misconduct and ejected — the team’s second of the period. Cornell would be shorthanded for the remaining 3:49 of the game.
“That was probably the first time I’ve ever seen two players get kicked out with fives in the same game, it was kind of outrageous,” Rauter said. “Whenever we face adversity we kind of rise to the challenge, and the penalty killers did a great job.”
Schafer, frustrated with the three reviews of Cornell penalties in the contest, said neither Vanderlaan nor Angello had any malicious intent.
“I think [Vanderlaan has] two penalties this year,” Schafer said. “He’s skating away from him, the kid runs into him.”
The game was a hard-hitting affair from the opening whistle, and the Bobcats certainly didn’t resemble the same team that was embarrassed 24 hours prior.
“I just think [Quinnipiac] competed so much harder tonight and we didn’t have the same jump,” Schafer said. “Our games against these guys all year have been … tight games.”
The conference rivals and frequent playoff foes showcased renewed energy in the series’ second game.
“We knew it was going to be intense and competitive,” Rauter said. “As the game wore on it was pretty evident that … we came to play and we were ready to compete.”
With Princeton’s upset victory to sweep No. 2 seed Union earlier in the night, the Red will face the red-hot Tigers in the semifinal next weekend.