LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Senior defenseman Matt Nuttle, junior forward Noah Bauld and sophomore forward Morgan Barron all scored power-play goals, and sophomore goaltender Mathew Galajda made 30 saves for his fifth shutout of the season and lead the Cornell men's hockey team to a 6-0 victory over Brown on Friday evening in an ECAC Hockey Championship semifinal at Herb Brooks Arena.
The victory pushes Cornell (20-9-4), the top remaining seed in the tournament, into the championship game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday against the winner of Friday night’s second semifinal between third-seeded Clarkson and fourth-seeded Harvard.
Brown (15-14-5) found itself in an early hole after being whistled for a five-minute major penalty and ejection of top-line winger Chris Berger. Though the Big Red had trouble with zone entry throughout the man advantage, it was still able to capitalize on nearly identical plays – though from opposite sides of the ice.
A cross-ice pass from sophomore forward Brenden Locke set up Nuttle for a shot through traffic that hit the net at the 4:10 mark, then senior forward Beau Starrett threaded a pass through the middle that senior defenseman Brendan Smith turned on goal to be redirected in by Bauld at 6:23.
Brown started to gain traction and had its biggest threat to get on the board just a minute later, but Galajda demonstrated quick feet to deny Brent Beaudoin’s rebound attempt from in tight. Mullin pushed the lead to three without a rebound goal after he helped create a turnover on the forecheck.
After squandering a three-goal lead in an eventual 3-3 tie against Brown five weeks ago, Cornell made sure that history didn’t repeat itself on a grander stage – the Bears demonstrated plenty of bite in the second period. The golden opportunity then came in the form of a five-minute major call against the Big Red, only the advantage was neutralized by three minor penalties against Brown.
The last two infractions ultimately created a five-on-three for Cornell, which struck on a bullet from the top of the right circle by Barron for his team-leading 14th goal. Junior defenseman Yanni Kaldis drew his second assist of the night on the play, and Galajda recorded his first collegiate assist. It marked the first time Cornell had three power-play goals in a game since Nov. 10 in a 3-2 win at Northern Michigan.
Galajda made 17 of his 30 saves with the Bears pouring on pressure in the third period, but the Big Red effectively managed the rest of the game while tacking on a couple more. Freshman defenseman Joe Leahy scored his first collegiate goal on a three-zone rush and wraparound, giving Cornell four players with their first goals of the season in just four playoff games.
Sophomore forward Kyle Betts then capped the scoring with a shorthanded empty-netter. It marked Betts’ third goal in the postseason, and it was the Big Red’s first shorthanded goal since Nov. 4, 2016.
The Big Red will now play in the championship for the second time in the last three years.