NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Alec McCrea and Tristan Mullinscored goals in the second period, but a three-goal deficit proved too steep to overcome for the Cornell men's hockey team on Saturday night in a 5-2 loss to Yale at Ingalls Rink.
"You can't play that poor defensively and expect to win a hockey game," said Mike Schafer '86, the Jay R. Bloom '77 Head Coach of Men's Hockey at Cornell. "It was a collective team effort tonight, from our forwards to our defense to our goaltending. We just had a lot of breakdowns in a lot of different areas."
Befitting of the significance of a game featuring teams competing for first-round byes in the ECAC Hockey Championship playoffs, the first period featured tremendous pace – though quality scoring chances in both directions were fairly minimal. The most traction Cornell found came late in the frame, with some prolonged possession in the offensive zone.
But just 17.8 seconds before the intermission, Yale (13-9-3, 11-6-1) struck with Curtis Hall's first of two goals on the night. It marked just the fourth time in 25 games this season Cornell has conceded first. The Bulldogs kept the momentum through the break and came out the aggressor in the second period. Goals just 31 seconds apart by defensemen Phil Kemp and Matt Foley inflated the home side's lead to 3-0.
The Big Red fought back. McCrea's third goal of the season came off the rush on a four-on-four scenario, then Mullin's net-front goal on the power play cut the visitors' deficit to one goal with nearly half the game remaining.
"I give our guys credit. It wasn't a good night for us, but we made it a 3-2 score and came back," Schafer said. "But we gave up another soft goal from a little bit of a breakdown defensively and it's a 4-2 hockey game."
But Yale struck right back less than two minutes later on Ted Hart's wraparound for the fifth goal of the free-wheeling frame. The Bulldogs had 17 shots on goal in the second period alone.
Hall's second goal marked the only strike of the third, and just the second time this season the Big Red has conceded a fifth goal.
With just one point on its weekend trip through New England, first-plaec Cornell has seen a pack of teams in its immediate rearview pull closer. Quinnipiac (24 points) is now just one point back in second place, followed by Yale (23), Harvard (22) and Clarkson (22). Just four games remain in the regular season.
"It's about getting back to the drawing board and doing the simple things that we do well, and play a lot more patient hockey and being above people, making it hard on people," Schafer said.
Cornell returns to Lynah Rink for its final two home games of the regular season next weekend, hosting Rensselaer at 7 p.m. Friday before its Senior Night game at 7 p.m. Saturday against Union.
How The Goals Were Scored:
Yale's 1st Goal
1st period, 19:42.2 • Hall 4 (DeMontis, Kemp) • Yale 1, Cornell 0
• The Big Red won a faceoff in its own zone and Alec McCrea's hard ring around the boards created a race to the left point. Yale's defenseman beat Cornell's winger to the spot and cleanly sent the puck back down the wall, where DeMontis quickly swatted a backhanded pass to the slot for Hall to fire in between Galajda's legs.
Yale's 2nd Goal
2nd period, 3:13 • Kemp 3 (Snively, DeMontis) • Yale 2, Cornell 0
• Cornell entered the Yale zone and Brenden Locke tried to feed a pass to Morgan Barron breaking down the slot – but Kemp broke up the play on the backcheck and sent Yale back up the ice on a two-on-two. Joe Snively entered the zone on the left wing, then waited for Kemp to join the play before hitting him with a pass that turned into a goal from the inside of the right circle.
Yale's 3rd Goal
2nd period, 3:44 • Foley 1 (Gaus, E. Smith) • Yale 3, Cornell 0
• The Bulldogs attacked the Big Red goal from Galajda's right, with Andrew Gaus' shot attempt from the slot stopped. The puck popped out toward the right point, where Matt Foley picked it up and rolled down the half wall before snapping a shot from the outside hash mark that squeezed by Galajda.
Cornell's 1st Goal
2nd period, 4:40 • McCrea 3 (Locke, Malott) • Yale 3, Cornell 1
• With the teams skating four-on-four, DeMontis made a pass from the left wing toward a trailer that was broken up by Locke and turned up ice. Jeff Malott gained the zone on the right side, then drew his defender while dropping a pass for McCrea on the charge. He took his space between the defenders into the right circle before wristing a shot past Sam Tucker's blocker.
Cornell's 2nd Goal
2nd period, 11:22 • Mullin 5 (Barron, Kaldis) (pp) • Yale 3, Cornell 2
• Barron won a draw to start a power play in the Yale zone, then the Big Red worked the puck around the perimeter back to Barron outside the top of the right circle. He drifted a bit toward the middle with a fronting defender in tow, thus opting to feed an open Mullin at the bottom of the circle. He immediately turned toward goal and looked to slide a pass across the crease to Vanderlaan crashing on the far side, but the puck clattered off either a defender or the goaltender's stick and into the net.
Yale's 4th Goal
2nd period, 13:17 • Hart 1 (E. Smith, Foley) • Yale 4, Cornell 2
• The Big Red failed to clear the zone a couple times to Austin McGrath's right before the puck went around to the other side. Foley kept the play alive and started to move the puck back down low, where Yale won a couple board battles. Hart worked his way free and looped around behind the net, scoring inside the far post on a wraparound.
Yale's 5th Goal
3rd period, 8:13 • Hall 5 (Snively, DeMontis) • Yale 5, Cornell 2
• Hall scooped up the puck in the neutral zone and sent a pass to Snively entering the Cornell zone with some speed on the left side. His shot from the bottom of the circle was shouldered away by Galajda, sending the puck high into the air and back toward the top of the left circle. DeMontis took a wild shot that went wide to the near post, then Snively quickly found it behind the net on the other side and backhanded a pass to Hall in the slot for another quick goal.