ITHACA, N.Y. — One night after No. 6 Cornell stunned No. 11 Colgate with a late third-period goal to win 1-0 at Starr Rink, the Big Red and the Raiders faced off again, with the teams scoring two power-play goals apiece en route to a 2-2 tie at Lynah Rink.
In an exhausting weekend, Cornell (16-4-3, 12-2-2 ECACHL) took three points of a possible four from Colgate and maintained first place in the ECACHL, three points ahead of Colgate and Harvard. The Big Red are now 11-0-1 at home this season.
“The games played out like a lot of people thought they might,” said Colgate head coach Don Vaughan. “The teams are pretty evenly matched. They were great battles. Two great college hockey games.”
Over 58 minutes of hockey were played Friday night before the first (and only) goal was scored, but on Saturday, the Big Red struck at 8:26 of the first period. With Colgate co-captain Dave Thomas in the penalty box for slashing, Cornell worked the puck around the perimeter. Forward Matt Moulson slid the puck to defenseman Charlie Cook at the point, who fired it on net. Sophomore Byron Bitz then scored his second goal of the season, banging in the rebound in the crease to give Cornell the 1-0 lead.
“Charlie took a nice shot,” said Bitz. “It hit my shin pad, then hit the goalie, and I turned around, and it was right there. I just shoveled it in. It was lucky.”
However, the lead was short-lived. Colgate responded with a power-play goal of its own just two minutes later. After Raider forward Adam Mitchell found Tyler Burton alone to the right of the net, the Cornell penalty killers were caught rotating. Burton slid the puck across the top of the crease to a wide-open Jesse Winchester, who tapped it past a defenseless David McKee to tie the game at 1-1.
The goal ended McKee’s shutout streak of 142:23.
Special teams continued to dominate the game in the second period, when Big Red forward Daniel Pegoraro scored a power-play goal to give Cornell the 2-1 lead. Senior captain Mike Knoepfli passed the puck from the point to Pegoraro, who was alone on the goal line to Silverthorn’s left. Pegoraro skated in front and threw the puck on net. Silverthorn saved the initial shot, but Pegoraro roofed the rebound over the left shoulder of Silverthorn, who was still low on the ice.
“Knoepfli made a great play walking across, and [Raymond Sawada] did a hell of a job in front of the net,” said Pegoraro. “He picked their guy off for me and gave me enough time to make a play. Luckily, the rebound came right back to me, and I buried it top corner.”
“We knew we had to get it up in the air on [Silverthorn],” added Bitz. “That’s the scouting report on him.”
Again, the resilient Raiders fought back to tie the game. And again, the goal came on the man advantage, with Burton firing a loose puck from the edge of the right faceoff circle past a sprawling McKee, just 30 seconds into the third period.
“[Mitchell] put it on net,” said Burton. “It hit something in front, came right on my tape, and I was Johnny-on-the-spot to put it in the open net.”
“That goal was really frustrating,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer. “We came out [of the intermission], and there was a lot of water laying around. The puck hit a patch of water and caused a turnover. They’re a good team and capitalized on their chance, but that was frustrating. We were trying to get the referee’s attention to let the ice freeze.”
After all four goals came on the power play, the spotlight shifted from special teams to the goaltenders, who made timely save after timely save to preserve the 2-2 tie.
Cornell’s best chance of the third period came after forward Cam Abbott drove to the net hard, bringing the puck in front for Mitch Carefoot, whose shot from point-blank range was stopped by Silverthorn. Moments later, at the other end of the ice, McKee proved up to the challenge as well, as he slid across the crease to stop a Colgate 2-on-1 chance.
“It was a battle, obviously, just like last night,” said Silverthorn. “Whenever you play Cornell, it’s going to be a grind-it-out game. We showed a lot of character bouncing back like that. Still, we’re really disappointed [with the tie]. They’re a good team, but we’re just as good.”
Both teams found themselves exhausted after the grueling two-game series and now look ahead to the final three weeks of the regular season.
“Those games are going to make you stronger down the stretch drive,” said Schafer. “It’s good to get three points, but we’re really disappointed we gave up the lead tonight in the third.”
“It would have been nice to get the win, but both teams played great,” said Burton. “It was a great weekend. Both games could have gone either way. We played as hard as we could tonight, and we left it all out there. The intensity was high. Guys were hitting, finishing their checks. Both teams wanted to win so badly.”
“We played our hearts out,” added Pegoraro.
Colgate (19-8-1, 11-4-1 ECACHL) and Cornell both travel eastward next weekend, as the travel partners take on Yale and Princeton. Nevertheless, Cornell and Colgate, currently in first and second place in the league respectively, could be destined to meet again.
“I’d love to have an opportunity to play them in the championship game in Albany,” said Vaughan.