Smith's First Goal Paces No. 14 Cornell Past No. 16 SLU

ITHACA, N.Y. — After a two-goal lead evaporated in the second period, sophomore defenseman Brendan Smithscored his first collegiate goal to pull the Cornell men's hockey team ahead for good in a feisty 3-2 victory over St. Lawrence on Saturday night at Lynah Rink in a matchup of nationally ranked teams.
 
Smith's goal came late in the second period, just 89 seconds after St. Lawrence (13-7-6, 9-2-3 ECAC Hockey) tied the game with Woody Hudson's redirection on a Nolan Gluchowski point shot. Senior forwards Jake Weidner and Matt Buckles worked the puck into the left side of the Saints zone and set up Smith with loads of space near the left point. With the heels of junior forward Alex Rauter's skate inches from the crease, Smith's shot sailed through the screen and bounced into the net off the glove of Saints goalie Kyle Hayton.
 
The goal gives Cornell (12-4-2, 7-2-2), which entered the weekend ranked 14th in the USA TODAY/USA Hockey Magazine and 15th in the USCHO.com poll, a 10-1-1 record over its last 12 games and a pivotal three-point effort in ECAC Hockey play over the weekend. While the Big Red remains fifth in the league standings, it continues to have games in hand on every team ahead of it.
 
After a sluggish start to Friday's game, the Big Red appeared to be behind the 8-ball again early against the Saints, but an apparent power-play goal by Ryan Lough in the game's second minute was waved off when an officials' video review revealed he kicked the puck into the net. Cornell made the most of the reprieve, then senior forward Jared Fiegl walked off the left halfwall at the 4:14 mark and snapped a shot over the right shoulder of St. Lawrence goalie Kyle Hayton to give the home side the lead.
 
Senior defenseman Patrick McCarron doubled the lead to 2-0 at 13:31 by splashing the net. The play started with a heads-up pass from senior goaltender Mitch Gillam, which in turn allowed Rauter to send McCarron away on a two-on-two rush. Near the top of the left circle, he snapped a shot through his defender's legs and over Hayton's glove.
 
But St. Lawrence, ranked 16th in the USCHO.com poll, didn't fade. Freshman defenseman Ben Finkelstein got the visitors on the board midway through the second period to cut the deficit in half. After a strong kill of a five-minute major penalty, the Saints then tied the game on Hudson's goal.
 
While there were no goals in the third period, it was far from uneventful. Both teams rang shots off the post on power-play opportunities early in the third period. The Saints pulled Hayton in favor of an extra attacker late in the frame, but were turned away by a couple of shot blocks from senior forward Eric Freschi.
 
Gillam would eventually make 22 saves to earn the victory, which pushes him to 10-0-1 in his last 11 starts.
 
Cornell wraps up its four-game home stand next weekend with visits from Ivy League rivals Harvard at 7 p.m. Friday and Dartmouth at 7 p.m. Saturday.