SCHENECTADY, N.Y. – The men's hockey team continued its first-period dominance on Friday, scoring three times in the opening 20 minutes en route to a 4-0 victory against Union on Friday night at Messa Rink.
Sophomore forward Morgan Barron – the reigning ECAC Hockey Player of the Month – stayed red-hot by scoring twice, and linemate Cam Donaldson added three assists to power #11/13 Cornell (13-6-1, 9-3-1 ECAC Hockey). Matthew Galajda made 24 saves for his second shutout of the season and the 11th of his collegiate career.
Riddled with injuries seemingly all season, the Big Red demonstrated what a boost some reinforcements could provide.
"Getting some guys back really helped tonight. Getting Tristan Mullin back and getting Alex Green back, who hadn't played since Nov. 2," said Mike Schafer '86, the Jay R. Bloom '77 Head Coach of Men's Hockey. "It allowed us for the first time in a long time to roll six defensemen. … We played with predominantly 11 forwards tonight, and I think there was good flow to it."
Michael Regush opened the scoring for the Big Red with his fifth of the season in the game's eighth minute. It marked the 17th time in 20 games this season that Cornell score first. Barron's first goal of the night doubled the lead, then Cody Haiskanen's first of the season pushed it to 3-0 and ended the night of Union (12-8-5, 5-7-1) starting goaltender Darion Hanson.
Despite the lopsided final margin, Cornell's penalty kill played a big role in the victory – which pushed the Big Red back into sole possession of first place in ECAC Hockey with 19 points. Cornell was a perfect 5-for-5 on the night – especially noteworthy considering Union's power play was 13-for-37 (35.1%) against Cornell over the last three seasons.
"(We had) 22 blocked shots," Schafer said. "That's kind of recipe for us, to get in shot lanes. They're such a good team at getting pucks to the net. We talked about it all night long, that we needed to have strong sticks down by the net."
Two of those penalty kills came in the second period before Barron's one-timed cannon over Jake Kupsky's glove gave Cornell its fourth goal. It gave Barron his 11th goal of the year, which ties Donaldson for the team lead. It also gives him 15 points on six goals and nine assists in nine games since the semester break.
"It was a good solid win for us," Schafer added. "On to RPI tomorrow night."
The Big Red wraps up its annual trip to the state's Capital District with a 7 p.m. Saturday visit to Rensselaer in nearby Troy.
How The Goals Were Scored:
Cornell's 1st Goal
1st period, 7:19 • Regush 5 (Betts, Malott) • Cornell 1, Union 0
• Jeff Malott created a turnover behind the Union net on the forecheck, then won the battle with the defenseman and another Union player arriving to help. That allowed Kyle Betts to send a pass toward the goal mouth, where it took a slight deflection before Regush found it on his forehand and ripped a shot over Hanson's glove.
Cornell's 2nd Goal
1st period, 11:15 • Barron 10 (Donaldson, Nuttle) • Cornell 2, Union 0
• Moments after Hanson robbed Donaldson with a glove side on the doorstep, Union's clear was quickly steered back up ice by Matt Nuttle. Facing an unfavorable two-on-three, Donaldson gained the zone on the right side before cutting to the middle to cause the defenders to converge. The puck bounced around a bit, but Donaldson stayed with the play and set up Barron for a shot from the slot that pinged in off the post under Hanson's blocker.
Cornell's 3rd Goal
1st period, 16:54 • Haiskanen 1 (Kaldis, Donaldson) • Cornell 3, Union 0
• Donaldson gained the Union zone on the left side, then pulled up to wait for help from Kaldis cutting into the middle. Kaldis curled at the top of the right circle before feeding Haiskanen for a wrister from the center point that found its way through traffic and past Hanson.
Cornell's 4th Goal
2nd period, 15:04 • Barron 11 (Kaldis, Donaldson) (pp) • Cornell 4, Union 0
• The Big Red's first power-play unit had prolonged possession in the Dutchmen zone, causing the defense to sag a bit. Donaldson's cross-ice pass to Barron in the left circle was steered to Kaldis at the center point. He then opted to come back to Barron, who blasted a one-timer from the faceoff dot over Kupsky's glove.