PRINCETON, N.J. — Cornell goalie David McKee didn’t have a lot of work to do Friday, but his focus was perfect.
McKee made 19 saves en route to his nation-leading sixth shutout of the season and a 5-0 win over Princeton at Hobey Baker Rink.
McKee, who entering the night also led the nation in goals against average (1.39) and was third in save percentage (.937), earned his 11th career shutout, tying him with David LeNeveu for second on the school’s all-time list.
“He’s as steady as they get,” said assistant coach Scott Garrow, filling in for an ill Mike Schafer. “He didn’t get a ton of work early on in the game but he had a couple of chances that he robbed a couple of guys with the glove save, and that really built the guys up. And the guys know how solid David is. He’s been fantastic.”
McKee wasn’t thrown off by the lack of shots, particularly in the first two periods.
“I actually kind of get used to that, playing for Cornell,” McKee said. “It wasn’t that different. I like playing in this rink. I like it a lot. My first shutout ever at Cornell was at Princeton last year, so I’ve always enjoyed coming here.”
The victory was business as usual for No. 5 Cornell, with a combination of solid goaltending, strong defense and opportunistic scoring. The Big Red scored on their only two shots on the power play and tallied a shorthanded goal in addition to two even-strength goals.
“[The defense] played really well,” McKee said. “They play really well every night. I’ve come to expect it, I guess. They made some great blocks.”
“They’re an excellent defensive club,” said Princeton head coach Guy Gadowsky. “They’re very consistent at it, and they buried their chances. They’re an excellent hockey team in terms of their talent and skill level and they’re excellent in terms of the systems they play.”
The game-winning goal came midway through the first period. Princeton forward Darroll Powe received a hooking penalty at 9:20 of the first, allowing Cornell to pull ahead 1-0 on the power play. Daniel Pegoraro’s centering pass from behind the goal line bounced off a couple of bodies in front of the net and in for his sixth goal of the season.
“I tried to force it through and they ended up tipping it in,” Pegoraro said. “I lucked out that way. It was a good way to start out the game for us and get a quick power-play goal. I’m pretty happy with the win tonight.”
Nursing the 1-0 lead, Cornell scored two goals in 56 seconds during the second period to break the game open.
Princeton played even with Cornell for the first 12 minutes of the period, but McKee made some key saves to preserve the Big Red lead. Then at 12:03, Chris Abbott took a Topher Scott pass and beat goalie Eric Leroux.
Tiger forward Sebastian Borza was called off for interference 20 seconds later, and Cornell promptly capitalized on the power play as defenseman Charlie Cook’s slapshot from the point beat Leroux glove-side to make it 3-0 at 12:59.
In the third, with the Tigers on the power play, Princeton defenseman Luc Paquin lost the puck at the point, and Mike Iggulden went in on a breakaway and deked Leroux to extend the lead to 4-0 at 6:34.
Matt Moulson then scored 56 seconds later to make it 5-0.
Princeton’s Ian McNally went in on a breakaway with under two minutes left, but McKee, though the game had already been decided, was still focused and managed to stop the puck and preserve the shutout.