CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Cornell needed just 30 seconds of offense to stymie league rival Harvard, 3-0, posting two quick goals midway through the second period to keep pace with co-league leader Yale for the ECAC title.
“I thought when we got our hands on the puck we played with a lot of poise throughout the course of the night,” Cornell coach Mike Schafer said. “It was a good performance.”
Big Red winger Tyler Roeszler lit the lamp first with a wrist shot from low in the circle that beat Crimson netminder Kyle Richter stick side at 10:14 in the middle frame.
Just seconds after Roeszler’s game-winning tally, winger Colin Greening and center Riley Nash created an opportunity for an insurance goal by crashing the net down low. Defenseman Kier Ross one-timed a quick pass across the doorstep from Nash to put the Big Red up 2-0 at 10:39 in the second period.
The first period was reminiscent of Harvard’s opening frame against Union, another top-ranked league foe. Just as in the Crimson’s victory over the Dutchmen last Saturday, Harvard contained Cornell’s offense early. Other than four minutes on the penalty kill — where Cornell made more than half its first period attempts — Harvard restricted the Big Red to just five even-strength shots on goal.
“Our penalty kill kind of dropped off a little bit,” Schafer said. “We got back to details tonight. Our best penalty killer is Ben [Scrivens]. When you do get through there, he is such a rock back there and he does a great job.”
Both teams had chances in the first period, but superior goaltending by both Richter and Scrivens held the game scoreless through the first 20 minutes of play.
Greening was gunning for his 13th goal of the season nearly five minutes into the first period when he picked up a failed dump in the neutral zone, but was stoned by Richter on a one-on-one rush.
Cornell also squandered an early scoring opportunity when Richter stoned Big Red defender Brendan Nash’s slap shot from the point midway through the first period, but left a rebound loose near the crease on which the Big Red could not capitalize.
Harvard’s best chance came at the five-minute mark, with Crimson winger Conor Morrison screening Scrivens at the crease. With Scrivens beat, center Doug Rogers fired a shot from the slot that, had it not bounced off of Morrison’s skate, would have gotten Harvard on the board.
The Crimson offense however, barely registered a pulse in the second period, notching only two shots on goal in comparison to Cornell’s 10 attempts. The Crimson started the second period with an almost four-minute man-advantage, but could not get through the Big Red’s defense. In fact, it took Harvard nearly 13 minutes to even test Scrivens in the middle frame.
“We put ourselves behind the eight-ball with a poor second period,” Harvard coach Ted Donato said. “They pretty much shut us down in their end and were able to control the puck in our zone. With a team that is that defensively sound and that type of goaltender, it’s a tough hill to climb.”
With a two-goal lead, Cornell, a perennial defensive powerhouse, went on lockdown. The Big Red manhandled the Crimson offense, including stoning winger Alex Killorn’s quick shot from the slot with five minutes to go in the second period.
A reinvigorated Harvard squad took the ice in the third period, posting 14 shots on goal in comparison to Cornell’s five attempts.
“They made it difficult for us to get to the net,” Donato said. “They blocked a ton of shots. I thought in the third period, we battled through and were able to get some more pucks to the net, but they are a very sound team in a lot of areas.”
Four minutes into the final frame, winger Alex Fallstrom carried a wraparound behind the net and tried to stuff it past Scrivens. Killorn was similarly stymied when he bounced a shot from the circle on the doorstep which was scooped up by Scrivens.
Cornell center Blake Gallagher potted an empty-netter at 1:49 to seal the game 3-0.
The Big Red defense, which is ranked second in the nation and allows only 2.12 goals per game, held Harvard to a season low of 22 shots on goal and ensured Cornell’s 67th victory over its ECAC rival.
With the win, the Big Red also notched its first shutout of the Crimson since a 2-0 blanking of Harvard in 2004, its first victory in Bright Hockey Center in almost five years, and a win for Schafer in his 500th game as head coach.