POTSDAM, N.Y. — It was a game where the first team that scored was going to win, and for sophomore Kelly Hughes, picking up his first goal of the season gave Cornell the advantage over ECAC foe Clarkson, 1-0, Friday evening at Cheel Arena.
Matt McRae snapped a shot from the left side of the ice, and as the puck traveled towards junior netminder Mike Walsh, Hughes redirected it low into the net at 14:49 of the third, giving the Big Red (12-5-1, 8-2-1 ECAC) the lead and the eventual win.
“Denis (Ladouceur) walked it up the wall a bit, and then sent it out to Matt,” said Hughes. “I lost my guy, so I went to the net and Matt shot it at net. I just got a piece of it, and I saw it trickle through his legs behind him.”
Clarkson looked to prove to everyone that last weekend’s loss to last-place Vermont was a fluke, as the Golden Knights (9-9-4, 5-2-3 ECAC) took early control and challenged Cornell goaltender Matt Underhill early. But the Big Red responded quickly, putting pressure on Walsh.
The two teams battled back and forth through the first two frames, as each team had strong opportunities to score in the offensive zone. But neither could convert on multiple power-play opportunities, as Cornell went 0-for-7 with the man-advantage, while Clarkson was 0-for-5.
Both goaltenders had solid outings, as each responded to the intense play in his own zone. Underhill made 29 saves in the shutout win, while Walsh stopped 18 shots and allowed the game’s only goal. Clarkson pulled Walsh in the waning minutes of the third in favor of the extra attacker, but the Golden Knights were unable to notch the equalizer.
“I said to Mark (Morris) afterwards that it was a good hockey game,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer. “There were a lot of pucks that went by the crease tonight and went off the goaltenders. Good things happen when you shoot the puck. We stuck one in, so for us it was a real good road win in a tough place to play hockey.”
“Underhill was up to the task,” said Clarkson coach Mark Morris. “He saw a lot of pucks tonight and we didn’t give him as much traffic as we needed to in order to beat him. I think you have to look off a few plays to beat him. He’s a big guy, you can’t be expecting to shoot at him and have pucks trickle off him. You have to look him off and have guys drive in.”
With the win, the Big Red extended their lead over Clarkson and Dartmouth by four points, and look to surpass idle Harvard in the ECAC standings Saturday when they face off against St. Lawrence, while Clarkson will host Colgate.