Big Red Upends Maine

by | Mar 28, 2024

Big Red Upends Maine

by | Mar 28, 2024

Springfield, MA – The Cornell Big Red fell behind early but stormed back to beat the Maine Black Bears 3-1 at the MassMutual Arena on Thursday. It’s the second straight year Cornell has advanced to the Regional Finals as the lower seed.

Cornell goalie Ian Shane stopped 30 of 31 shots, while Sullivan Mack’s two-goal game capped off the NCAA Springfield Regional doubleheader. Both of Mack’s goals were unassisted.

At 5:43 of the first period, the Black Bears struck when Harrison Scott ripped a shot past Cornell goalie Ian Shane. Donovan Villenueve-Houle carried into the Cornell zone, hit the brakes, and curled to fire off a pass to a trailing Scott just inside the blue line before firing off the shot for the 1-0 lead.

Cornell killed off a Five-Minute Hitting From Behind penalty on freshman Ryan Walsh. The Black Bears got a slight jump in momentum, but it didn’t last.

“I thought we had a good start,” Maine Head Coach Ben Barr said. “Had a Five-Minute major with a chance to go up by two or three. It obviously didn’t happen. [Cornell] capitalized on most of their chances, and that’s the difference in the game.”

“Ian (Shane) made a couple of huge saves, and we had a great penalty kill,” said Cornell coach Mike Schafer. “That, to me, was the turning point of the game. We had to get out of that Five-Minute Major.”

The Big Red tied it when Kyle Penney beat Maine goalie Victor Ostman (15 saves) with a wrist shot from the slot at 13:56. Cornell’s Gabriel Seger stole the puck from Maine’s Villeneuve-Houle inside the Black Bears zone before dropping a pass to Penney at the top of the right circle, where he let it rip for goal number ten of the year.

“We didn’t even know if he was going to play this week,” Schafer of Sullivan and his performance. “He got dinged up a bit in the (ECAC) Championship Game and came out tonight and scored two big goals for us. We grinded it out.”

Cornel Big Red goaltender Ian Shane makes one of his 30 saves in Cornell’s 3-1 win over the University of Maine Black Bears in the NCAA Regionals at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, MA on Thursday, March 28, 2024.

Cornell pulled ahead at 12:09 of the second period when Mack beat Ostman with a snapshot from the right faceoff dot for his first of the game. Mack picked up a loose puck off Cornell’s pressure along the boards and skated from the blueline before beating Ostman.

“I just tried to get my feet moving,” Mack said of the eventual game-winner. “It was kind of a surprise with how much room I had. No one stepped up on me, and I got a clean shot.”

Mack added an insurance goal at 10:31 of the third after picking up a loose puck at the Cornell blueline. The junior forward raced in and toe-dragged around a sliding Maine defender before beating Ostman with a snapshot high.

“Not a whole lot, I’m just really excited,” Mack said of the second goal. “I just tried to make a play. Got a good look at it. I’m happy it went in.”

“We did everything we could except put the puck in the net,” said Scott. “It’s that simple. We were getting opportunities; we were getting our looks. Their goalie stood on their head.”

Cornell will face the Denver Pioneers on Saturday to advance to the Frozen Four in St. Paul, MN, on Thursday, April 11, 2024, at the Excel Center.

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