HANOVER, N.H. – Junior forward Jeff Malott had a goal and an assist in his return to the lineup, and freshman defenseman Joe Leahy picked up his first two collegiate assists, but the beleaguered Cornell men's hockey team suffered a 3-2 loss to Dartmouth on Friday despite having a season-high 40 shots on goal.
Having played the last two weeks without four key injured players, 16th-ranked Cornell (5-5, 3-2 ECAC Hockey, 3-1 Ivy League) was boosted with Malott's return – but the Big Red has taken another hit with the absence of their returning All-American goaltender. With Matthew Galajda out for the weekend, sophomore Austin McGrath made his first collegiate start in net and turned aside 19 shots. But Dartmouth (4-93, 4-2, 3-2) withstood a frenzied barrage after taking the lead for good, with goaltender Adrian Clark making 20 of his 38 saves in the third period.
"I was pretty pleased with the game," said Mike Schafer, the Jay R. Bloom '77 Head Coach of Men's Hockey at Cornell. "Unfortunately, we had a turnover at the offensive blue line when we're changing our D, and then our D falls down," he added, describing Cam Strong's game-winning on a breakaway. "It's just the way things are going for us right now."
With the sting of a loss to Harvard last Saturday at The Frozen Apple lingering all week, Cornell came out sharp to start Friday's game. Beau Starrett beat his defender wide in the right circle before making a pass across the crease to Mitch Vanderlaan at the 5-minute mark, but Adrian Clark made a big save with his stick. A little less than two minutes later, Starrett's shot from the right circle was gloved by Clark.
Cornell then took the lead after a shot from Leahy hit Starrett – posted up in the low slot – on the right skate and deflected past Clark for Starrett's third goal of the season. But the Big Green came back the aggressor. McGrath stopped Kevan Kilistoff's mini-breakaway about 90 seconds later, but Dartmouth got the equalizer shortly after that from Quin Foreman.
Alex Jasiek's fluke goal gave the Big Green its first lead after a flipping puck bounced sharply off the ice and over McGrath's left shoulder. Malott tied the score 6:10 into the third with his first of the season in his first action since Nov. 10. But for all the chances it generated, Cornell couldn't find another goal to neutralize Strong's strike.
The Big Red possessed the entire two minutes of a power late in third period in the Big Green zone, but got no payoff. Just as the opportunity ended, a pass to find Malott fresh off the bench crashing the crease ended with his shot bounding off the ankle of a Dartmouth defender.
The game not only served as Cornell's first with 40 shots on goal in a loss since Jan. 15, 2016, it also ended the Big Red's unbeaten streak in Ivy League play at 15 games. The last loss in Ancient Eight play was also against Dartmouth, back on Jan. 28, 2017 at Lynah Rink.
"The problem is right now, I think some guys are gripping the stick a little bit (too tightly). … But we can't let that bother us," Schafer said. "The tide will turn for guys to score goals. It's just a matter of time."
How The Goals Were Scored:
Cornell's 1st Goal
2nd period, 2:34 • Starrett 3 (Leahy, Malott) • Cornell 1, Dartmouth 0
• Alec McCrea worked a long indirect pass up the right wall to send Malott into the Dartmouth zone. He slowed the play down while drifting toward the middle, drawing defenders to him before dishing off to Leahy cutting back to the right side. His open shot from the right circle hit the back skate of Starrett, who was posted up above the crease, and it bounced in.
Dartmouth's 1st Goal
2nd period, 4:25 • Foreman 5 (Graber, Yau) • Cornell 1, Dartmouth 1
• Cornell turned the puck over in the neutral zone, allowing Dartmouth quick entry up the left side. On what essentially boiled down to a two-on-two, Foreman cut from very wide on the left back toward the high slot. The other forward and defender went toward goal, with the Cornell defenseman losing his balance and crashing into McGrath. That put the goaltender out of position and allowed Foreman to hit an empty half of the net.
Dartmouth's 2nd Goal
2nd period, 11:31 • Jasiek 1 • Dartmouth 2, Cornell 1
• Jasiek gained control in the right corner of the Big Red zone, then wheeled up the half wall. As he got past the circle, then turned and just flipped the puck toward goal. Because the puck was traveling end-over-end, it skipped off the ice near the hash mark and popped up hard past McGrath's blocker and in.
Cornell's 2nd Goal
3rd period, 6:10 • Malott 1 (Leahy, Vanderlaan) • Cornell 2, Dartmouth 2
• Starrett won a draw to Clark's right to Vanderlaan inside the left point. He fed Leahy in the middle at the top of the zone, and he quickly wristed a shot that was headed wide to Clark's left before it was tipped out of mid-air and back into the net by Malott.
Dartmouth's 3rd Goal
3rd period, 9:29 • Strong 1 (Kilistoff, Roth) • Dartmouth 3, Cornell 2
• The Big Red tried to dump the puck in the Dartmouth zone in front of the teams' player benches, but the puck was turned over and Kilistoff pushed it ahead into open space. With the Cornell tentative to play the puck because defensemen were changing behind the play, Strong picked it up with a head of steam to enter the zone. The Big Red's last defender back stumbled to give Strong a clean break in from the left circle, and he calmly slid the puck between McGrath's pads on his backhand.
• For the second time in eight days, Cornell will face rival Harvard. The Big Red will be looking to avenge a 4-1 loss to the Crimson in last Saturday's edition of The Frozen Apple when the teams meet again at 7 p.m. Saturday at Bright-Landry Hockey Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.