NEW HAVEN, Conn. — This year’s Cornell team may be far removed from last season’s defensive juggernaut, but the Big Red made up for it with an offensive outburst against Yale.
Putting the game out of reach with a three-goal second period, Cornell overpowered the Bulldogs, 6-2 in each team’s first ECAC contest of the season at a sold-out Ingalls Rink. The game dropped Yale to 0-3-0 (0-1-0 ECAC) and improved the Big Red to 1-1-1 (1-0-0).
“I think we played a solid game on the road,” said Cornell coach Mike Schafer. “It’s tough to play here but we had a real good week of practice.”
Cornell winger Matt Moulson scored a goal and added two assists in the effort for Cornell, who got scores from six different skaters. Yale outshot the Big Red 26-25, but rookie goaltender David McKee stopped 24 attempts.
For the Bulldogs, it was one more painful loss after being dominated on the road by North Dakota last weekend. In its three games this season, Yale has been outscored 24-6.
“We’re not going to win any games in this league if we’re giving up six goals,” said Bulldog captain Vin Hellemeyer.
But in their own end, the Bulldogs looked disjointed and had trouble clearing the puck, which resulted in a number of Cornell goals.
“Our team is very prone to serious breakdowns in our own end,” said Yale coach Tim Taylor. “What scares me and upsets me is that we don’t get that second effort defensively.”
After losing a number of defensemen to graduation and seeing the departure of goaltender Dave LeNeveu to the NHL, the Big Red, known for its signature defensive style, have been making strides to work on play in its own end.
“People who remember our defensive team from last year are making an unfair comparison,” Schafer said. “Compared to the way we were at the beginning of the season, we’ve seen a lot of improvement.”
Cornell jumped to an early 2-0 lead 10:18 into the game, with Chris Abbott grabbing a puck that had ricocheted off the side of the net and wristing it past Yale goaltender Josh Gartner to open scoring.
At the end of what looked to be a promising Yale power play, the Bulldogs got caught down low, allowing Cornell to break out the puck and set up Byron Bitz for a score just seconds after being released from the penalty box.
But Yale was able to answer back 13:54 into the first to cut Cornell’s lead in half when blueliner Mike Grobe received the puck at the point and stickhandled past a Cornell defender into the left faceoff circle, letting go a wrist shot that eluded the screened McKee. Bobby Burns and Joe Callahan earned the assists.
“I was encouraged by the first period,” Taylor said. “We had a physical presence, and it could have gone either way. But the three goals we let up in the second period turned out to be insurmountable.”
Just 59 seconds into the second period, Mitch Carefoot one-timed a pass from captain Ryan Vesce that extended Cornell’s lead to 3-1, with Vesce adding a goal of his own on a rebound to make the score 4-1 less than three minutes later on a power play setup from Moulson and Charlie Cook.
In a sequence indicative of Yale’s frustration throughout the night, the line of Hellemeyer, Zach Mayer, and Jeff Hristovski forced a flurry of offensive chances late in the second period, but could not manage to find the back of the net. Instead, Cornell cleared the puck and picked up a goal by Moulson just seconds later on the subsequent possession.
The Big Red added its final tally at 11:42 of the third period off a power play goal by Shane Hynes. With four minutes to play in the contest, a streaking Mike Klema one-timed a cross-ice pass from Brad Mills, giving the Elis their second goal of the night and setting the final score of 6-2.
Yale goaltender Josh Gartner picked up 19 saves on the night. Taylor said he would be starting freshman Matt Modelski tomorrow against Colgate, a decision that was made before the game.
The Bulldogs, hoping to pick up their first win of the young season, face Colgate tomorrow at Ingalls Rink.