ESTERO, Fla. — Junior goaltender David McKee and the Cornell penalty kill teamed up to blank Northeastern 3-0 in the first semifinal of the Florida College Classic on Tuesday afternoon at Germain Arena. McKee made 13 stops as the Big Red successfully killed off nine power plays.
The win runs the Big Red’s (9-3-1) unbeaten streak to six games, the second-longest active streak in the country. The shutout is McKee’s first of the year and the 16th of his career, extending his ECACHL record.
The first period was played almost exclusively in the Northeastern zone, but the Big Red could not capitalize until the 11:31 mark. A hooking call assessed to the Huskies at 10:00 put Cornell on the power play for the second of three times in the period, and senior captain Matt Moulson converted for his seventh extra-man score of the season, tying him for fifth in the nation.
Moulson took a pass from sophomore forward Raymond Sawada at the top of the right circle and held it before ripping a slap shot that beat Northeastern junior goaltender Adam Geragosian low to the stick side. Sophomore forward Topher Scott also assisted. The goal extended Moulson’s points streak to 10 straight games, a career high.
The Big Red struck again a little more than six minutes later. Freshman defenseman Taylor Davenport dug a puck off the right boards at the Cornell blue line and bounced it off the boards through the neutral zone. Senior forward Cam Abbott ran it down at the right dot and passed across the slot to classmate Daniel Pegoraro. Pegoraro had been trailing the play and was there to backhand the puck home for his second goal of the year.
The Huskies (1-10-4) managed just one shot in the first 20 minutes to the Big Red’s four, but that changed in the second. Northeastern held a 9-7 advantage in shots on goal in the second period, thanks in large part to six Cornell penalties.
The Big Red added another goal to its lead in the fourth minute of the second period, when freshman Michael Kennedy won a faceoff in the right circle. The puck went directly to sophomore defenseman Doug Krantz, who unloaded a slapshot from the right point that set the final score at 3-0.
Midway through the second period, Cornell was forced to kill off 1:22 of a 5-on-3 Northeastern advantage. After doing so, the Big Red came within one second of killing the second penalty, but a third was called, leading to another second of 5-on-3 and 1:59 of 5-on-4 hockey. During that stretch, McKee made a number of nice sliding pad saves, as Northeastern tried unsuccessfully to work the puck around and score from the back side.
The Huskies had two outstanding chances to break up the shutout in the final period. At the 6:26 mark, sophomore forward Jimmy Russo got behind the Cornell defense and had a 1-on-0 breakaway against McKee. His shot hit the crossbar and caromed harmlessly away.
Six minutes later, Northeastern had a 2-on-2 transition situation. Krantz broke his stick on a shot attempt from the Huskies’ blue line, and junior Bryan Esner took the puck and charged the Cornell net through the left circle. Krantz could not poke the puck away, but McKee was there to make the stop.
Wednesday at 7:35 p.m., Cornell faces Minnesota-Duluth, which beat Maine 4-1 in Tuesday’s second semifinal, in the Florida Classic championship. Northeastern will face Maine in the consolation.
Cornell will be aiming to capture its second Ned Harkness Cup, which is awarded annually to the winner of the Florida College Classic. The cup, named for the legendary coach who piloted both of Cornell’s NCAA championship teams, was last claimed by the Big Red in 2003.