ITHACA, N.Y. — For the second straight night, the Yale Bulldogs and Cornell Big Red saw overtime; but on Saturday night, neither emerged with a victory. Joe Zappala’s third period score gave Yale a comeback tie, which is only the sixth time since the 2000-2001 season that Cornell has failed to win when leading after two periods. Since that season, Cornell has 91 wins, 1 loss, and 5 ties when going into the third with the lead.
However, Yale’s persistence allowed them to take home one point after consecutive overtime games against the ECACHL’s top two teams.
“We knew Cornell’s record leading going into the third period over the last number of years,” said Yale coach Tim Taylor. “It was a classic Lynah Rink game. We knew it was going to be physical. We knew it was going to be high paced and intense. Our coaching staff could not be more proud of the effort our boys put out there tonight.”
Despite only managing four shots in the first period, Yale struck first. Yale freshman Michael Karwoski controlled the puck behind the Cornell net and delivered the puck around the sided of the net to Blair Yaworski, who quickly lifted a shot above goaltender McKee’s blocker side to score the goal
“It was a tremendous pass by Michael Karwoski,” said Yaworski. “I guess he had eyes in the back of his head, and he saw me coming out of the corner behind him. He caught Dave McKee off guard and I was able to put it past him.”
With a one-goal lead, Yaworski and the Bulldogs continued to pressure Cornell, as Yaworski got behind The Red skaters for a breakaway. Cornell defender Sasha Pokulok caught up to Yaworski on the breakaway, but took the Yale sophomore down and earned a interference penalty — resulting in a penalty shot. The Lynah crowd was loud and on their feet at Yaworski skated in towards McKee for “the most exciting play in sports.” McKee did not disappoint the home crowd. Yaworski faked right to his backhand side, then brought the puck back to his left for a shot, but McKee, legs sprawled, stretched his right leg blocker out, just in time to deny the attempt.
“I just reacted. I didn’t want to over think or overplay him. I just tried to focus and watch the puck,” said McKee. “I haven’t been involved in one of those before, so it was a lot of fun.”
The entertaining first frame continued less than a minute later, when Cornell’s Mark McCutcheon scored on one of the most creative goals of the season. Senior Cam Abbott won the puck in the Cornell end and pushed the puck forward to McCutcheon, who raced a single defender into the Bulldog zone. McCutcheon slid the puck through the defender’s legs, then moved it back to his right to shoot past Richards on the glove side.
“I definitely didn’t have that planned out. Just kind of made it up as I went,” said McCutcheon.
During a power play one minute into the second period, Cornell scored again to take the lead. From the corner, sophomore Topher Scott passed out to Ryan O’Byrne at the point. O’Byrne fired a slap shot through traffic, where Raymond Sawada redirected the powerful shot for a Cornell score.
For the next 32 minutes of the game, both teams displayed physical defense and neither were able to capitalize on power plays. Yale finally equalized after a scramble for the puck behind the Cornell net. Nate Jackson found Joe Zappala from behind McKee, and Zappala netted the tying goal.
“It definitely was a hard fought, brawl type game,” said Cornell coach Mike Schafer. ” “It’s a tough tie. In a lot of ways it feels a little bit like a loss.”