DURHAM, N.H. — Fourth-ranked Cornell University scored three unanswered goals in the third period to break a 2-2 tie and win a key non-conference road game against the No. 16 University of New Hampshire Wildcats, 5-2, at the Whittemore Center Arena in Durham, N.H. on Sunday afternoon.
Sean Collins, Riley Nash and Joe Scali each scored a goal for the Big Red in the third period and finished off a dominating performance where Cornell outshot UNH 43-22 in the game.
“We came ready to play and I’m just happy with the way our team executed,” said Cornell coach Mike Schafer. “We kept the game simple and we did a good job keeping their skilled forwards in front of us.”
The turning point came early in the third period when Cornell’s aggressive forechecking left UNH with tired legs after spending a lot of time in their own zone. The Big Red scored their third and fourth goals midway through the third, mostly due to a three-minute, even-strength shift spent entirely in their offensive zone.
“It was a clinic on cycling and puck possession; we couldn’t handle it,” said UNH coach Dick Umile. “I think they had three line changes and kept it in and we couldn’t break it down. They scored on it and that was, as they say, the nail [in the coffin].”
Cornell lost consecutive games to Colorado College and Princeton in the Florida College Classic last weekend, but they posted their first win since early December against the Wildcats, who were playing their first game back after a long winter break.
“We came to play the first couple shifts maybe but that was about it,” said UNH senior captain Bobby Butler. “It’s tough coming back after three weeks, especially with 10 days off, but there’s no excuses; we didn’t come to play tonight.”
Umile though, said he wouldn’t blame the loss on the extended layoff.
“That’d be an excuse, as far as I’m concerned,” Umile said. “We had plenty of time to practice during the week. Obviously we’ve got some work to do. They’re a good team; they came in here and beat us in our own building.”
Cornell senior Blake Gallagher opened the scoring at 7:30 of the first when teammate Colin Greening attempted a pass that ricocheted off a UNH defender and landed on Gallagher’s stick in front of the net. Gallagher then put a quick shot through the legs of UNH goaltender Brian Foster that trickled across the line to give the Big Red an early 1-0 lead.
UNH had to scramble late in the first frame to keep from falling further behind after Butler and sophomore Stevie Moses took penalties only a minute apart. However, a few deflections and a couple key saves by Foster allowed UNH to stave off the Cornell power play and end the period down only a goal.
Midway through the second period, it looked like the Wildcats might have tied the game when junior forward Phil DeSimone ripped a high wrist shot past Cornell goalie Ben Scrivens, but a short review confirmed the call on the ice that the puck glanced off the crossbar and did not go in.
UNH junior Mike Sislo tied the game shortly following the replay review after Wildcats’ defenseman Matt Campanale drew two Cornell defenders to the low left side before passing the puck back out front right to Sislo, who sent it past Scrivens for the tying score at 11:08 of the second period.
Cornell quickly responded only 83 seconds later to regain the lead at 2-1 after junior forward Patrick Kennedy rattled a shot off the left post and in at 12:31 of the second.
UNH struck back again when Moses and Campanale skated the puck out of their defensive zone and took advantage of an odd-man rush to tie the game, 2-2, with 3:49 remaining in the second period. Moses put a quick shot on Scrivens that bounced off his chest right to Campanale, who chipped it into the net.
The Wildcats pulled Foster with almost four minutes to play in the third period to gain a six-on-four advantage, but even after the UNH power play expired, New Hampshire chose to leave their net empty and Cornell capitalized, scoring with two minutes left to take a 5-2 lead.
The Big Red finished the game that way and moved their record to 8-4-2 on the season. New Hampshire drops to 8-7-3, though they maintain their first-place ranking in Hockey East.
The Wildcats play two home conference games next weekend against Mass.-Lowell and Massachusetts on Friday and Saturday, while the Big Red doesn’t play again until Friday, Jan. 15 at Clarkson.