No. 16 Cornell Slips Past RPI in Final Minute

No. 16 Cornell Slips Past RPI in Final Minute

TROY, N.Y. – Freshman defenseman Yanni Kaldis scored the game-winning goal with 25 seconds left in the regulation to lift the 16th-ranked Cornell University men's hockey team to a 4-3 victory over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) on Saturday night at the Houston Field House. With the win, the Big Red improve to 14-6-2 (9-4-2 ECAC Hockey), while the Engineers drop to 6-23-1 (4-13-0 ECAC Hockey).

Cornell took advantage of a five-minute major penalty to score the eventual game-winning goal in the final minute of the third period. Kaldis (Montreal, PQ/Nanaimo Clippers) fired inside the right post for his first collegiate tally, with assists to senior Matt Buckles (Toronto, ON/St. Michael's Buzzers) and junior Alex Rauter (Chatham, NJ/Wenatchee Wild).

RPI pulled sophomore netminder Chase Perry (Andover, MN/Wenatchee Wild) for the final 25 seconds, and generated one final chance to tie the game, but Evan Tironese (Qualicum Beach, BC/Alberni Valley Bulldogs) let the left post with a backhander from the slot.

Junior Viktor Liljegren (Stockholm, Sweden/Fairbanks Ice Dogs) opened the scoring just 25 seconds into the first period, firing home the first of two on the night from sophomore Brady Wiffen (St. Mary's, ON/Trenton Golden Hawks) and junior Lou Nanne (Edina, MN/Sioux Falls Stampede).

Senior Patrick McCarron (Toronto, ON/St. Michael's Buzzers) equalized at 4:43 of the first, scoring through a screen from the top of the left circle. His fourth goal of the season drew helpers from junior Trevor Yates (Beaconsfield, ON/Deerfield Academy) and senior captain Jake Weidner (Grand Valley, ON/Elmira Sugar Kings).

The Engineers regained the lead at 8:41 of the first, thanks to freshman blueliner Will Reilly (Toronto, ON/Nanaimo Clippers) scoring his first collegiate goal on a shot from the right point. His drive ricocheted off a Cornell defender and past senior goaltender Mitch Gillam (Peterborough, ON/Chilliwack Chiefs) for a 2-1 lead.

Weidner then evened the score at 2-2 with 51 seconds to go in the period. Yates and senior Jeff Kubiak (Tinley Park, IL/Muskegon Lumberjacks) earned the assists.

???????Liljegren gave RPI back the lead (3-2) at 8:54 of the second, netting the period's only goal. Once again on the power play, the Engineers worked the puck to the right side of the net for senior captain Riley Bourbonnais (Rochester, NY/Lincoln Stars), who fired low, creating a rebound which Liljegren buried into the left side of the cage.

Cornell drew even for a third time at 12:40, as Buckles swept home a rebound at the right side of the crease. Sophomore Alec McCrea (El Cajon, CA/Waterloo Black Hawks) took a shot from the left point that was turned away by Perry, but the puck fell to Buckles for the easy finish.

???????Gillam (14-5-2) had 21 saves, while Perry (4-15-1) ended up with 41, matching a career-high. The Big Red were 3 for 8 on the power play, with the Engineers going 2 for 6.

RPI is back on the ice next Friday, when it visits Dartmouth (7pm). Cornell hosts travel partner Colgate on Tuesday (7pm).