ITHACA, N.Y. — Jordan Sigalet stopped 36 shots, including 16 in the third period, as Bowling Green staved off Cornell to earn a 1-1 tie at Lynah Rink on Friday.
Sigalet didn’t have to make many spectacular saves, but he had to be very active as Cornell buzzed around the net in the second and third period. But the Big Red saw too many opportunities fall by the wayside, unable to get sticks on bouncing backs, or having clear shots poked away at the last moment.
“As the game wore on, I liked our attitude and mentality in how we protected the puck and cycled the puck,” said Cornell coach Mike Schafer. “But as we grow and learn, we have to learn to fight through the things that were going on during the game, and get to the net more often coming off the cycle or getting to the net through traffic.
“We’re a better team tonight than we were last week, but we still have a long ways to go as far as growing as a hockey team is concerned.”
Bowling Green coach Scott Paluch was pleased that his team came into a tough building, withstood an onslaught, and came back to put pressure on the Cornell net as well late in the game.
“Cornell is such a good team down low along the wall, and they’re able to cycle so well. It got territorially to their advantage in the second, but we were patient with it, and didn’t give up a ton of chances, and when we did, we didn’t give up many second chances.”
With the tie, the Big Red remain winless at Lynah Rink (0-1-2, all in non-league games), where they went 15-0 last season.
“All in all, I thought our guys competed very well against a very good team in a great environment,” Paluch said. “[Lynah Rink's environment is] outstanding. It’s what college hockey is all about, and it was good for our team to be able to withstand that and come out with a tie.”
Cornell took an early penalty, and Bowling Green took advantage right off the ensuing faceoff. The Big Red missed a coverage, and Steve Brudzewski swooped in and put one in, just 1:35 into the game.
“We made a mental mistake that just shouldn’t happen,” Schafer said. “It’s something that happens [to us] usually once a year, and it happened tonight.”
The Falcons had two power plays in the first period, but Cornell complained that Bowling Green drew both calls with blatant dives. Referee Joel Dupree was apparently listening, because late in the period he made a rare call — a diving penalty on Bowling Green without a matching coincidental minor.
The resultant power play — Cornell’s fourth of the first period — led to the equalizing goal. As the seconds dwindled down in the period, Matt Moulson dug the puck out behind the net, got it to Cam Abbott, who spinned a puck around Sigalet with 0.4 seconds remaining. It was Abbott’s third goal in three games.
Cornell outshot Bowling Green, 10-2, in the second period, and appeared to be wearing down the much smaller Falcons with a patented forecheck.
But to the Falcons’ credit, they bounced back in the third and put a lot of pressure on the Cornell net. That’s when freshman goaltender David McKee put in his best period to date in a Big Red uniform, making 16 stops, while his counterpart was doing the same on the other end.
“You get a tie game that was pretty tight checking in the first two periods, and then both teams can smell a victory in the third, you get a little bit more added offense,” Paluch said. “But I thought both teams did a good job of not allowing second chances.”
Said Schafer, “Our defense didn’t do a great job getting the puck to the net. Their defense packed it in, and when teams do that, your defense has to step up and get the puck to the net and create some rebounds and traffic. But we had too many shots blocked where we didn’t hit the net or didn’t get it through, and that was frustrating to our forwards from that standpoint.”
McKee showed particularly sharp reflexes on some tough kick saves, and had the glove hand working well too. Notably, after seeing just two shots in the second period, McKee was tested with two rapid-fire shots early in the third, and made two of his best saves.
“We had tons of chances in the second period, we kept pressuring and pressuring, and that’s always a concern that you’re pressuring and you’ll see a break the other way,” Schafer said. “But I thought David McKee made two or three huge saves in the third period when that did happen.”