NEW YORK — It took six tries over a span of 11 years, but led by two freshmen, No. 7 Cornell finally got Red Hot Hockey right on Saturday night.
Tristan Mullin scored his first collegiate goal and Morgan Barron made two assists as the Big Red skated to a 4-3 win over No. 19 Boston University at Madison Square Garden. Mullin took a feed from Dwyer Tschantz and beat Jake Oettinger to the goalie’s left at 11:51 of the third period to give Cornell a 4-1 lead.
It proved to be the game-winner after the Terriers rallied for two late goals. Brenden Locke also had an assist on the play. Mullin was understandably thrilled to do it on the big stage of MSG.
“I was hoping we would hold the (three-goal) lead, but it was great to get the winner,” Mullin said. “It’s an unbelievable experience playing here, with all the history and all the great players who have played here. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”
Mullin and Barron are just two of 10 freshmen playing for Cornell (9-1), leading the nation in winning percentage and off to its best start since 2002-03, the last time the Big Red reached the NCAA Frozen Four. Coach Mike Schafer was not only happy to beat BU (6-8-1), but also pleasantly surprised to get off to such a hot start with his young team.
“These two young freshmen, they don’t know what we did here in the past,” Schafer said. “We tied two years ago and have had some great games with BU. The rivalry goes way back (the two teams have played 46 times dating to 1925). When I first got to Cornell in 1982, I remember hearing all the older guys talk about the rivalry when they were the two dominant teams in the East back in the 1960s and 1970s. It’s great that we’ve been able to do this down here in the last few years, and the games never seem to disappoint. It’s a great event and always a great crowd with two great fan bases.
“Our start is unbelievable. Starting the year with 10 freshmen, if you had told me we would be 9-1, I would’ve signed up for that faster than the New York lottery. Our upperclassmen have done a great job of welcoming (the freshmen) into the program, teaching them about the culture of Cornell hockey and what it means to be a Cornell hockey player.”
Beau Starrett opened the scoring for the Big Red at 15:18 of the first period, beating Oettinger over his shoulder off passes from Mitch Vanderlaan and Alex Green. After the Terriers committed a turnover in their defensive zone, Trevor Yates took a feed from Barron and scored at 6:51 of the second period to make it 2-0. Jeff Malott also had an assist on the play.
It was not the start BU coach David Quinn had hoped for.
“They (Cornell) were ready from the drop of the puck,” Quinn said. “They got their first goal on a blown back check, then we settled down and got out of the first period. But then we turned it over and they got another one. But the back breaker was the third one I thought.”
Quinn was talking about Cornell’s third goal, scored on the power play after Brandon Hickey was penalized for holding at 7:13 of the second period. There were just seven seconds remaining on the penalty when Barron passed the puck to Alec McCrea in the corner, from where McCrea fired it in off a BU player at 9:06. Green also had an assist.
After Starrett was sent off for hooking at 3:49 of the third period, Dante Fabbro got the Terriers on the board at 4:48, firing it between Matthew Galajda’s pads from the high slot off passes from Bobo Carpenter and Chad Krys.
After Mullin scored to make it 4-1, Vanderlaan was penalized for holding at 13:17. Khrys then took a feed from Carpenter and beat Galajda to his glove side at 13:45. Fabbro also had assist on the play.
Patrick Harper scored BU’s final goal at 15:02 on a fluke shot from the goal line that bounced in off of Galajda’s pad. Brady Tkachuk and Fabbro were credited with assists.
This was Cornell’s first win in the biennial Red Hot Hockey series. BU beat the Big Red in 2007, 2011, and 2013, and the teams tied in 2009 and 2015.
Cornell travels to Miami for its next two games on December 1-2, while the Terriers will face Hockey East rival Boston College in a home-and-home series on the same two dates.