CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — It was a heartbreaker on Valentine’s Day for sixth ranked Cornell as they gave up three power- play goals and an empty netter in route to a 4-2 loss against ECAC rival Harvard on Saturday night.
In just his third career start for the Crimson, sophomore Ryan Carroll stole the Ivy League show with 42 saves, helping extend Ted Donato’s home game undefeated streak to 17 in his reign as coach during the month of February.
“I think we’re excited about the win, it was a good fought battle,” said Donato. “We knew it was going to be a game that was very tight with a lot of momentum changes. I thought Ryan Carroll was sensational and I thought our power play was excellent.”
Cornell coach Mike Schafer agreed that Carroll was the road block for the Big Red.
“From the start of the game, it was their goal tender–he played absolutely phenomenal. I mean there are not too many nights when you see that kind of performance by a goaltender and he was absolutely spectacular tonight.”
It was a scoreless first period with five penalties, so the goaltending is what captured the attention of 3,022 fans in attendance at the Bright Hockey Center. Carroll saved 15 in the opening stanza and Ben Scrivens (20 saves) stopped 14.
Rival teams are a sure bet to a physical game, so the action significantly picked up in the second period; the Crimson were able to capitalize on two power plays, and Cornell notched a goal of their own.
The first tally came seven minutes in after two penalties. Harvard’s Doug Rogers was put in the box for tripping and then with 20 seconds left in the Cornell power play, their own Joe Devin took a seat for elbowing. But as soon as the Crimson got their fifth skater back, they were able to generate a power play goal at 7:04. In the Big Red zone, Rogers delivered the puck to the crease where Alex Killorn was there to put Harvard on the board first with his fourth power play goal of the season.
But Cornell didn’t wait long to strike back as just over three minutes later they tied it up. Junior Blake Gallagher carried the puck from the left wing, back around the net where Devin got a hold of it and sent it over to Colin Greening in the center slot who rifled it past Carroll at 10:43.
Then the Big Red failed to kill another penalty when Evan Barlow was caught clipping at 14:19. Just 26 seconds later Harvard was back in the lead after Rogers fed a pass to sophomore Matt McCollem in the left circle who, on a drive to the net, beat a defender and lifted it in past Scrivens for the second Crimson power-play goal of the night.
In the final period–after Cornell’s Brendon Nash was sent to the box for tripping at 6:39– Harvard knotted a third goal with the man advantage. Sophomore Chris Huxley got the puck from the corner and fed it to rookie Daniel Moriarty who one-timed it past Scrivens from the lower right circle for what would be the game winner.
The Big Red cut the deficit to one at 16:30 when Greening dug through the crowded Crimson crease to push the puck past Carroll making it 3-2 with his second goal of the night.
With a minute and a half to go, Cornell pulled Scrivens for the extra attacker, but put him back in just for the faceoff with 27.9 seconds left because of a Greening penalty. The Cornell net minder skated off again, just in time for Harvard to take advantage before the buzzer sounded.
Senior Nick Coskren beat his opponent in the neutral zone and cut to the center to nab the empty netter and show the world that there is no love for foe Cornell, even on Valentine’s Day.
Despite ‘dumping’ Cornell, Donato and his team still hold a respectable relationship status with the Big Red hockey club.
“I thought we did a lot of good things and when you play good teams, you know that when you do a lot of good things they can put you under pressure,” he said. “I think Cornell played an excellent game; we have a lot of respect for them, but we’re happy to get a win.”
Harvard improves to 7-14-4 overall, 7-7-4 ECAC, and will take a road trip to St. Lawrence and Clarkson next weekend. Cornell (15-6-4, 10-5-3 ECAC) is set to host Rensselaer and Union.