ITHACA, N.Y. — Sophomore forwards Brenden Locke and Morgan Barron scored second-period goals to keep their line's hot streak, then the Cornell men's hockey team cracked down defensively in the third period for a 2-0 victory over rival Harvard on Friday night in front of a sold-out crowd at Lynah Rink.
In just his second game back after an injury-related absence, sophomore Matthew Galajda made 25 saves for his first shutout of the season and the 10th of his career. It also gives the Big Red a shutout in each of the 24 seasons — matching the tenure of Mike Schafer '86, the Jay R. Bloom Head Coach of Men's Hockey at Cornell.
After leading the nation in team defense last season, the Big Red has turned the page on a rocky start and Galajda's time out of the lineup. Making his first five starts, sophomore Austin McGrath has also delivered.
"Something we, as a coaching staff, want is competition at that position," Schafer said. "Every time (Galajda) has had competition, he's risen to the challenge and gotten better and better and better."
After the goals in the middle frame, Cornell (10-5-1, 6-2-1 ECAC Hockey) did a particularly good job limiting scoring chances down the stretch for Harvard (7-6-3, 4-5-2). The Big Red had the first seven shots on goal of the third period, with the Crimson's first shot on target not coming until just 5:20 remained on the clock.
"It has felt like a turning point," said Galajda, the lone goaltender on the 2018 All-America East Region team. "I've felt a lot more confident. The six to eight weeks off really helped the mental side of it."
After a fairly even and uneventful first period, Cornell's red-hot line of sophomores delivered. Barron set up Locke's goal at the 2:07 mark, then his team-leading fourth power-play goal about 15 minutes later doubled the advantage.
The combination of Barron, Locke and Cam Donaldson has now scored 10 of Cornell's 15 goals over the five games in which it's played together. Barron not only pushed his scoring streak to six straight games, he also has multiple points in each of the last four.
With the win, Cornell can now clinch the program's 23rd Ivy League championship with a win against Dartmouth on Saturday. The game has been moved up four hours from its originally scheduled start time to avoid impending inclement weather. Opening faceoff is now slated for a little after 3 p.m.
"We have a great challenge ahead of us," Schafer said. "It's a quick turnaround with a 3 o'clock game."
How The Goals Were Scored:
Cornell's 1st Goal
2nd period, 2:07 • Locke 3 (Barron, Haiskanen) • Cornell 1, Harvard 0
• With the Big Red reset in its defensive zone, Haiskanen zipped a pass up the left wing that hit a Harvard stick to slow the play down, but Barron was still one-on-one with a defender at the blue line. He maneuvered the puck around him, but Harvard's defenseman still had body position – until he fell down. Barron stayed with the play and quickly dished off to Locke coming down the slot, who slammed a quick shot past Lackey stickside.
Cornell's 2nd Goal
2nd period, 16:54 • Barron 8 (Kaldis, Donaldson) (pp) • Cornell 2, Harvard 0
• At the start of Cornell's first power play of the game, Barron won a draw to Lackey's right. Vanderlaan fished the puck out of the scrum and found Donaldson at the center point. He worked the puck to Kaldis creeping toward the right circle. His shot toward the far post was saved by Lackey, but kicked directly into the slot for Barron to sweep into the vacated cage.
• Cornell closes its four-game home stand with an ECAC Hockey and Ivy League game against Dartmouth on Saturday. Due to impending inclement weather, the game against the Big Green has been moved up to a 3 p.m. start time.