SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — It was difficult for Union goalie Justin Mrazek to keep his balance in the crease because he had a Cornell stick lodged in his skate blade with just over two minutes left in the third period Saturday. Each time he tried to get up, he fell down.
Mrazek was still on the ice when Big Red defenseman Doug Krantz fired a wrist shot at the net, which had plenty of open space.
But while he was down, Mrazek kicked out his pad, and kept the puck out of the net. That save helped preserve the Dutchmen’s 2-1 ECAC Hockey win over the Big Red at Messa Rink.
It is the fourth straight win for Union (3-3-2 ECACH, 8-8-3 overall), the first time they’ve had a winning streak like that since Nov. 5-20, 2004. It is also the first time the Dutchmen have swept Cornell and Colgate on the same weekend since Nov. 10-11, 2000. Union beat Colgate, 5-4, Friday.
Mrazek was still shaking his head after the game when he was asked about the save.
“Honestly, I don’t know much,” said Mrazek, who made 17 saves. “The stick was in between my legs. I tried to get up, and because it was in between my legs, I couldn’t. I would fall over. I guess I fell over at the right time, and threw my leg up. I saw the shot, but I feel like it was a little bit of luck more than anything.”
Cornell coach Mike Schafer was impressed with the stop.
“Obviously, it was a great save,” Schafer said. “Kicking the leg up there, it was a huge save for them.”
While he appreciated Mrazek’s save, Union coach Nate Leaman believes referee Derek Wahl should have stopped the play because of the stick being lodged in the skate.
“I’ve never seen that play in hockey before, either,” Leaman said. “It’s something I’ll talk about with our commissioner of officials [Paul Stewart], but under the circumstances, no one really knew how to react. I would hope, in the future, the whistle would be blown there.
“Under the circumstances, Justin kept playing, and he made a couple of key saves.”
The Big Red (5-3, 7-6-2) got a power play for the final 1:59 of the game when Dutchmen defenseman Mike Harr was called for roughing. They fired two shots on Mrazek, but didn’t score.
After a scoreless first period, Josh Coyle gave Union a 1-0 lead midway through the second period. Taking a Jason Walters pass from the left-wing boards, Coyle fired a wrist shot from the slot through the pads of goalie Ben Scrivens.
“We executed a perfect three-on-two, backchecked hard and got the puck in the middle,” Coyle said. “‘Cookie’ [Matt Cook] drove the net hard, ‘Wally’ fed me and I closed my eyes and shot it.”
Krantz tied it late in the second when his left-point shot deflected off Union defenseman Lane Caffaro and past Mrazek’s right pad.
Cook scored the game-winner 3:53 into the third period. Leading a two-on-one rush down the right wing into the Big Red zone, Cook had Coyle on his left and Cornell defenseman Mike Devin back. Cook looked over at Coyle, and that drew Devin over to him.
That gave Cook a lane to shoot the puck, and he fired it under Scrivens’ left arm.
“Josh made a great little pass,” Cook said. “It was initially a two-on-two, and after Coyle made the pass to me, he beat his man. Their [defenseman] committed to him. I tried to look him off, and I wanted to shoot high because [Scrivens] was going down a lot. He didn’t go down, but fortunately, it went in.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.