BOSTON, Mass. — Given that Boston University had notched five come-from-behind victories in just 10 games this season, perhaps it was high time for an opponent to give them a taste of their own medicine.
Despite being outshot and outplayed for much of the game, the Cornell Big Red (6-2-0) bounced back from a 2-0 deficit, scoring four unanswered goals in a 4-2 victory over the Terriers (8-2-1) in front of 2,820 Walter Brown Arena fans.
After failing to score a goal in his team’s first seven games, junior centerman Matt McRae lit the lamp twice in under five minutes for the Big Red. Freshman goaltender David LeNeveu got the biggest win of his young career, overcoming a tough first period to play exceptionally well in the final 40 minutes, surviving substantial BU pressure. LeNeveu stopped 30 of 32 shots in the game, helping his team salvage a split in the two-game weekend series.
“I just thought it was a great gutsy effort on our guys,” Cornell Coach Mike Schafer said. “We were down two-nothing against a great hockey team.
Freshman Brian Miller was the standout on the Terriers’ scoresheet, assisting on both BU goals.
“People can understand now why the BU-Cornell rivalry is so good,” Schafer said. “Your rivalries are always built on good hockey programs, and they’ve got a great hockey team. I’m very proud of our players tonight.”
The irony of the outcome was not lost on Terrier Coach Jack Parker. BU outshot Cornell, 32-19, and generally dominated the play. Cornell probably deserved to win Saturday more than it did Sunday.
“I thought the game was much more even last night, and we won,” Parker said. “The game was much more in our favor today, and we lost. But give their goaltender credit, and give them credit for hanging in there.”
Unlike round one of the two-game series, BU enjoyed a strong start, owning a substantial advantage territorially throughout much of the period. The Terriers fared better in quantity of shots than in terms of quality, but it was still a promising beginning.
A Terrier power play resulted in the first goal of the night at 11:33, when Brian Collins redirected a Bryan Miller shot from the point between LeNeveu’s pads.
It was only the second time in the last seven games that the Terriers scored the first goal of a game. Oddly enough, BU’s record is 4-1-1 this season when the opposition scores first.
Soon Miller figured in the second goal of the night as well, leading fellow frosh David Klema with a little pass as Klema streaked through the left-wing faceoff circle. Klema shot a low 12-footer to beat LeNeveu once again for the 2-0 lead at 17:08.
The Big Red showed resiliency in the second period and pulled within one goal again at 6:51. Matt McRae showed poise with the puck high in the slot, holding the puck for a long time. When he saw that Sean Fields intended to wait him out, standing up, McRae slipped a low shot past the netminder on the stick side.
It was the first goal of the season for McRae — a recurring theme for the Big Red, as a remarkable 16 different goal scorers had combined for the team’s 31 goals this season up until this point of the game. Stephen Bby was credited with the assist.
The same scoring combination hooked up again at 11:47, as Cornell pulled into a 2-2 tie. This time Fields stopped Bby’s initial 15-footer, but McRae was there to tuck the rebound behind the goalie.
“I don’t think it’s been an issue of not having the opportunities,” said McRae of his dry spell prior to today. “They just haven’t gone in. I’m playing with two great guys in Vesce and Bby, and they’ve given me a lot of chances. So I’m just glad to put in a few for them.”
The Terriers came close to regaining the lead at 13:45, when Frantisek Skladany set up Ryan Whitney for a point-blank shot. Whitney came close to knocking his rebound in — the goal judged flashed the red light — but referee Jim Fitzgerald immediately waved the goal off. Television replays confirmed that the puck did not completely cross the goal line.
The action grew tighter, and there were relatively few quality chances as the period wound down. Whenever they arose, LeNeveu answered between the pipes.
“David’s going to be a great college hockey goaltender,” said Schafer. “He’s very technically sound; nothing rattles him. They got up 2-0, and he made some huge saves in the second period when it was 2-2.”
Cornell took their first lead of the night at 5:12 of the third period, scoring a power-play goal with Steve Greeley in the sin bin for slashing. Defenseman Doug Murray scored his team-leading sixth goal of the season on a wrister from the left point that beat Fields through traffic. All but one of Murray’s goals this year have come on the power play.
“What happened was my forward left the guy,” Parker said. “It wasn’t a slapper; it was a 60-foot wrist shot. We had changed our coverage, and I thought I explained it well, but I guess I didn’t.”
Despite the defensive lapse on the play, it was a shot that didn’t reflect well on Fields.
The Terriers had some good chances on a subsequent power play, mounting their most consistent pressure of the night on LeNeveu midway through the period. He was equal to those challenges and also was the beneficiary of Brian McConnell shooting over the net on one good chance and Collins redirecting a Chris Dyment shot just wide.
Cornell almost wrapped it up with 3:40 left thanks to a two-man breakaway, forcing Fields to make a high-pressure save on Sam Paolini before Mike Iggulden shot the rebound wide.
But — uncharacteristically this season — the Terriers couldn’t get the answering goal for a change, and the outcome was sealed before Krzysztof Wieckowski tossed in an empty-netter with 3.3 ticks left on the clock.
BU next plays at UMass-Lowell on Friday night, while Cornell also resumes conference play with a pair of road games at Yale and Princeton next weekend.