NEW YORK — Cornell came into Saturday night’s “Red Hot Hockey” game with the nation’s second-best power play, but failed on six man-advantage chances and left Madison Square Garden with a 3-2 loss to Boston University.
The Big Red had scored seven power-play goals in its previous five games, but were stopped cold thanks to the hot hand of Terriers’ sophomore goalie Matt O’Connor.
“BU did a great job on the penalty kill,” Cornell coach Mike Schafer said. “Your goalie can be your best penalty killer and O’Connor proved that tonight and he deserves credit, but we also shot ourselves in the foot when our guys refused to shoot on one-timers and force the puck to the net. I felt there was too much hesitation, trying for the perfect shot. We needed to bring more pucks to the net.”
Despite having a size advantage over the Terriers, Cornell often was careless with the puck and was outworked by BU’s smaller skaters.
“We had way too many turnovers along the boards,’ Schafer added.
Boston University coach David Quinn was pleasantly surprised with the effectiveness of his team’s penalty killing.
“Penalty killing drains players, but my guys kept at it, especially through those four penalties in the second period,” Quinn said. “We kept the puck moving and worked hard to put ourselves in a position to win.
“I thought Cornell spent a lot of time cycling and on the perimeter, but we competed well with a bigger team in one-on-one [situations]. Our main goal was to try not to give them too much time and space on the penalty kill and we did a good job of that.”
Quinn also said that the hockey gods were wearing BU colors tonight.
Boston University (7-6-1) scored its three goals on just 11 shots and opened the scoring at 17:50 of the first period when Mike Moran took a pass from Danny O’Regan and beat Cornell goalie Andy Iles to his stick side. The goal was Moran’s second of the season and just the third of his career.
The Terriers took a 2-0 lead at 14:38 of the second period when Robbie Baillargeon scored his fifth goal of the season with an assist from Evan Rodrigues.
The game’s only power play goal, at 2:44 of the third period, gave BU a 3-0 lead and turned out to be the game winner. With Dustin Mowrey in the penalty box for interference, Nick Roberto scored off a pass from Kevin Duane. Matt Grzelcyk also earned an assist.
“Kevin fed me a great pass and I was able to get off a nice, quick shot,” Roberto said, adding that he felt a bit overwhelmed by the setting at Madison Square Garden. “The national anthem was awesome, the crowd was fantastic and it’s awesome playing in this arena.”
Cornell (7-5-1) got on the scoreboard at 4:05 of the third on a controversial goal that was upheld by the officials after a video review showed a Big Red player in the goal crease. Christian Hilbrich beat O’Connor between his pads for his third goal of the season off a feed from Brian Ferlin.
The Big Red made it 3-2 at 16:20 of the final period when Cole Bardreau scored on assists from John McCarron and Joel Lowry.
O’Connor stopped 37 of 39 Cornell shots on goal, a flurry of which came with a two-skater advantage in the final 1:47 with Grzelcyk in the penalty box for holding and Iles on the bench for the extra attacker.