The Cornell University Big Red and the Boston University Terriers are ancient powers in eastern college hockey. The programs have combined for seven national championships and have sparked big fireworks throughout their storied rivalry.
Since 2007, the programs have taken their play to Madison Square Garden for a biannual Thanksgiving Weekend matchup. Entering tonight, Cornell had not won the Kelley-Harkness trophy in five tries. The 7th ranked Big Red looked for their first Garden victory against BU and came roaring out of the gates for it.
Cornell outshot BU 15-9 for the first twenty minutes and put BU on their heels. Jake Oettinger ba his team up with 14 saves. And freshman Matthew Galajada made all nine saves.
Cornell struck first with a top-shelf goal from Senior Beau Starrett with less than five minutes to play in the 1st. The Big Red took that lead into intermission.
BU controlled the pace of the second period but fell further into the hole. 6:51 into the period, Trevor Yates got a backhander up and over Oettinger.
A few minutes later, Terrier Captain Brandon Hickey was called for a holding penalty. In the waning moments of the man advantage, Alec McCrea threw the puck toward the net and it tipped off a Terrier skate and by Oettinger for a Cornell goal. BU outshot Cornell 13-6 in the third but trailed 3-0 going into the final intermission.
The Terriers needed a herculean effort to even the game. They got some help when Beau Starrett was called for a high sticking penalty. Dante Fabbro sniped on the power play and got BU on the board. Cornell re-extended the lead to three when freshman Tristan Mullin scored his first career collegiate goal from the slot.
Once again, BU trailed by three. There was still plenty of fight in the dogs, though. Mitch Vanderlaan was called for a holding penalty and BU got another long-range goal on the ensuing power play, this one from Chad Krys.
Only 1:17 later, Brady Tkachuk chased a puck to the corner. He threw it on net and Patrick Harper tipped it home for BU’s third of the period. BU then launched an all-out assault on Matt Galajda, peppering the freshman with an extra attacker.
Alas, the freshman netminder stood strong, making 13 of his 35 saves in the frame. Cornell escaped with a 4-3 victory, the first win over BU since December 1st, 2003, and the first trophy in what Cornell hopes is a special season in Ithaca.
Terrier Coach David Quinn was disappointed after the game, but not broken.
“I thought we did a heck of a job for the final 28 minutes, storming back. I love our team. I think we have a good hockey team, but it’s frustrating. I feel like we’re giving up goals too easy and not getting them back.” Sophomore defenseman Dante Fabbro had a good game, with two assists and a goal, but kept perspective after the proceedings. “I had three points, but I was on the ice for all four of their goals. I take a lot of pride in my defense and that was unacceptable for me.”
BU falls to 6-8-1 overall. They return to Boston for a home and home against their arch-rivals, the Boston College Eagles, next weekend. The first game is at Conte Forum; the second one is at Agganis Arena. Puck drops at 7 pm both nights.
Cornell is off to the best start in many seasons, running their record to 9-1-0. The Big Red have had remarkable success with 10 freshmen on the roster, including the starting goaltender. Freshman Tristan Mullin’s first career goal was the game-winner.
“Not many people can say they scored a game-winner at Madison Square Garden. It’s such a great building to play in and I’m glad to do it for this program.” Head Coach Mike Schafer was thrilled with the team’s effort. “If you told me we’d be 9-1 with 10 freshmen on the roster, I’d sign up for that faster than the New York Lotto. Our leadership has done a great job of teaching these guys what it means to be a part of Cornell hockey.”
The Big Red Hit the road with two games against Miami (Ohio) next weekend. Puck drops at 7:35 pm on Friday night and 7:05 pm on Saturday night at Goggin Ice Arena.