ITHACA, N.Y. — Yale knew it would be tough sledding, with four key players missing and facing the prohibative ECAC favorite in their building. Cornell made it that much more difficult.
The Big Red got goals from six different players and took advantage of undermanned, undersized Yale, for a 6-2 win in the ECAC opener for both teams at Lynah Rink on Friday.
“We have good kids and they work hard, but Cornell was too much for us,” said Yale coach Tim Taylor. “They have too much size. They came out hard and played a Cornell hockey game.”
For the Big Red, they were just trying to not take for granted that Yale was without four big players.
“They’re a team where, since I’ve been here, they always play us well,” said Cornell senior forward Stephen Baby. “So we had to focus on just playing the team that was here and just taking care of business.”
Yale (0-2-0, 0-1-0 ECAC) was without No. 1 pick Chris Higgins, plus seniors Stacey Bauman, Evan Wax and Nick Deschenes. All were give game disqualifications and a one-game suspension for a fight that broke out during their game last week against North Dakota.
Yale came out with a lot of energy, but that soon disappated as No. 8 Cornell wore the Bulldogs down. By the end of two periods, the Big Red had a 26-10 shot advantage, and a 3-0 lead.
“We’re a good skating team,” said Taylor. “Cornell is very good at not letting you have much room to skate. I just thought if we could skate a bit, take some of their ‘D’ to the outside, maybe get one early … that’s what we tried to do to North Dakota too. But they [Cornell] were too good down low on both ends.”
The third Cornell goal came off a classic Big Red power play. The first unit of Ryan Vesce, Stephen Baby, Doug Murray, Mark McRae and Sam Paolini has been together for three years. On the goal, Murray took a blast that Paolini deflected in, a scenario that occured many times last season.
“It was good [for our unit] to get a goal,” said Baby. “At Ohio State [last week] we were 0-for-4. The special teams have to be big for us to be successful.”
The third period looked to be much of the same, when 6-foot-3 freshman Shane Hynes scored his first collegiate goal on a rebound to make it 4-0. But Cornell (2-0-0, 1-0-0) got a bit sloppy in the third period, and it eventually led to Yale’s only two goals of the night.
Each time Yale scored, however, Cornell responded to keep the four-goal edge. After Vin Hellemeyer banged in a rebound to make it 4-1, Greg Hornby deposited one of his own for the Big Red. That goal came after Cornell defenseman Doug Murray had made a move down the right wing, went around a defender and tried to tuck it past goaltender Peter Dobrowolski. After a couple rebound tries, Hornby finally knocked it in.
Freshman Nate Jackson scored for Yale with about a minute remaining in the game, off a rebound from behind the net that he put off the back of Cornell goalie David LeNeveu. Jackson had initially gotten off a shot by sneaking one between the legs of Murray for a free look at the net.
“Both Jackson and [Zachary] Mayer played their first game out there, and they were strong,” said Taylor. “They got their feet wet tonight.”
But again, Cornell got it back, with just four seconds remaining, on a power play. Mike Knoepfli set up Charlie Cook for a one-timer from the left point, and the hard shot went off of Dobrowolski’s blocker and Shane Palahicky put home the rebound for his second goal of the game.
“We didn’t play the third period the way we’d like to,” said Baby. “There was a letdown in the third. We pride ourselves on being the best defensive team. We shouldn’t be allowing two goals on our rink, in the third period especially. But it happens. We just have to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Cornell hosts Princeton on Saturday night, while Yale travels down the road to Colgate. Taylor will be thrilled to have his big guns back in there, and it will be good to have fresh legs.
“I just hope the guys we did play aren’t too tired,” said Taylor. “I tried to spread it around. We only had 11 forwards and five ‘D’ because one defenseman just wasn’t comfortable back there. So it was hard to sprinkle the workload around.”