ITHACA, N.Y. — Scoring his third goal in the past four games, Mark McCutcheon netted the game winner with 23 seconds remaining in the third period to give Cornell a 2-1 victory over Quinnipiac in Saturday night’s contest at Lynah rink.
The game winner completed a third period comeback that represents only the third time since 2001 that Cornell has won after trailing at the start of the last period. The victory is also the 51st of goaltender Dave McKee’s career, placing him in sole possession of second place all time for victories by Cornell goalies. Six-time Stanley Cup winner Ken Dryden is in first place with 76 wins.
“We escaped tonight,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer. “Showing their character by coming out in the third period and continuing to believe in themselves, that’s probably a step in the right direction.”
Defense triumphed for both teams in the scoreless first period. Quinnipiac showed that they could match, and in some cases, surpass Cornell in aggressive and physical play at both ends of the ice. Each goaltender appeared to be at their best, making tough glove saves to prevent their opponent from striking first.
For the first time in six contests, the Red had fewer first period shots than their opponent, as the Bobcats put six shots on goal to Cornell’s four. With this first period shot total, the Red tied their lowest first period shot count of the season, which they only duplicated in a 6-1 defeat at Dartmouth.
“The first period was probably one of the worst periods of hockey that this town and university has seen in some time. It was embarrassing,” said Schafer. “They out-competed us in the first period.
“Our alumni, our fans, our university, all they ask is that you come out ready to compete. We didn’t do that.”
On a second period Quinnipiac power play, the Bobcats struck first. After a scramble for the puck, freshman forward David Marshall found sophomore Mark Van Vliet the in the middle of the Cornell zone. Marshall ripped a shot on goal, which McKee deflected on his blocker side before it bounced in for the goal.
The Red seemed poised to tie the game when they received a two-man advantage after Qunnipiac holding and interference penalties, but the Bobcats held firm, killing off both penalties without giving up a notable Cornell scoring opportunity.
“The five-on-three was really disappointing. I take responsibility,” said Schafer. “I should have called a timeout.
The Big Red finally gave some relief to their frustrated coach when the first power-play unit got Cornell on the scoreboard four and a half minutes into the third period. Working behind the Quinnipiac goal on the power play, forward Raymond Sawada passed the puck along the end boards to Topher Scott. Scott, an undersized sophomore with exceptional vision and patience on the power play, slid the puck in front of the net right to the stick of team captain Matt Moulson, who capitalized to knot the game at one a piece.
“One of the best things that Moulson does that makes him such a good player is that he gets himself open and ready for a shot,” Scott commented.
Fittingly, this hard fought battle between new league foes came down to two players racing towards a loose puck in the final minute. Pressure from Cornell forwards Cam Abbott and Daniel Pegoraro took goalie Bud Fisher out of position and left him sprawled across the ice. McCutcheon came flying in towards the crease and reached out with his stick to beat the diving goalie to the puck and knock in the game winner with 23 seconds remaining. The goal gave McCutcheon his fourth point in as many games.
“I just came through and tried to put it on net. I didn’t even see what happened after that,” said Saturday night’s hero.