SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Another bad Union penalty led to another Cornell tiebreaking power-play goal. With that, it was another disappointing end to a Dutchmen hockey season.
Evan Barlow scored with the Big Red on a two-man advantage midway through the third period Saturday, lifting Cornell to a 3-2 victory over Union and sweeping their ECAC Hockey tournament quarterfinal series before a sellout crowd of 2,263 at Messa Rink.
The fifth-seeded Big Red (18-13-3) advanced to the semifinals Friday at the Times Union Center. Cornell won’t know its opponent until later tonight because the other three series have been extended to a third game.
The fourth-seeded Dutchmen, who earned their first-ever first-round bye, end their season 15-14-6. The game ended with senior forward Josh Coyle, whose third-period holding penalty led to Brendon Nash’s game-winning power-play goal in Friday’s 3-2 Cornell victory, in the penalty box for the final seven seconds of the game after knocking down Big Red goalie Ben Scrivens.
The Dutchmen have now not won a playoff series in 11 tries. They are 2-21.
“Any loss is tough to swallow,” said Union freshman goalie Corey Milan, who made 18 saves. “But this one ended our season. There’s not much more of an emotional loss [than this]. It really hurts.”
The Dutchmen were already short-handed, courtesy of a Stephane Boileau holding the stick penalty. A bad line change led to five Union skaters on the ice, which was one too many. Referee Peter Feola caught the violation, and that gave Cornell a two-man advantage for 33 seconds.
“A forward came to the bench, and d-man [defenseman] jumped for him,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “It was really hard to hear in the rink tonight. The rink’s the loudest I’ve ever heard it.”
It was the ninth time this season that Union has been called for too many men on the ice. It proved to be the costliest one.
“It’s something we addressed early on, and had to be fixed,” defenseman Lane Caffaro said. “We started doing a better job of it towards the end of the season. But it came up and bit us in the [butt].”
The Dutchmen almost got the puck out, but Nash kept it in at the high slot. The Big Red worked the puck around, with Blake Gallagher sending the puck from the left circle to Barlow in the slot. Barlow’s wrist shot beat goalie Corey Milan past his left side at 8:40 of the period, and eight seconds left on the two-man advantage.
“That’s probably the second time we’ve had a five-on-three this year that I can remember,” Barlow said. “It’s a play we like to run. It’s obviously a set play to try to find a spot in the middle there, trying to get as much as I can on it.”
The Dutchmen had a late power play, and they pulled Milan with 2:12 left. But Scrivens was outstanding. He made 41 saves.
“I thought Scrivens played excellent,” Leaman said. “They finished their chances.”
The loss was frustrating for the Dutchmen because they had a two-to-one advantage in shots. After giving up the first five shots of the game, Union outshot Cornell, 16-2, the rest of the first period. The Dutchmen took a 1-0 lead on Boileau’s power-play goal midway through the period.
The Dutchmen held a 15-8 shot advantage in the second, but goals by Patrick Kennedy and Gallagher gave the Big Red a 2-1 lead heading into the third.
Caffaro tied it with left-wing blast 3:16 into the third. That would be Union’s final goal of the season.
“I thought it was one of the best games that we’ve played of the year, actually,” Leaman said. “I was impressed with the number of guys taking their game to the level they did. I challenged some guys, and it’s a good sign for our program in the future because we had a lot of young guys really take their game to a level that, as a coach, you always wonder if they have. They took it to that level in their most important game of the year.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.