Worcester, MA — On November 25th, the Boston University Terriers and Cornell University Big Red met at Madison Square Garden for their biannual Red Hot Hockey matchup. Cornell got the early lead and survived a late Terrier push for overtime. That game marked Matt Galajda and the Red’s freshman class’s first time seeing a big national spotlight and was a fabulous success.
The Big Red rode the momentum from that win to the ECAC Regular Season Crown and the nation’s best winning percentage. BU, meanwhile, continued their struggles until January, when they flipped their script and went on a roll to the Hockey East Tournament Championship. On Saturday afternoon, the teams rematched in the Northeast Regional in Worcester.
Neither team had the early jump. The first period saw the Terriers and Big Red feel each other out. Cornell only won the shot totals 9-8 and the teams matched each other for intensity and pace. Both goaltenders, Galajda and Jake Oettinger, were solid in net. The top lines traded hard hits and the game went into the intermission scoreless.
The second period started with Cornell getting the jump on BU. They outshot the Terriers 4-2 in the first minutes of the frame and lit the lamp. With only 7:27 gone in the period, Cornell took the puck to the corner boards and won a battle. Cam Donaldson got the puck to Trevor Yates in the circle, and the senior from Beaconsville, Quebec, gave the Big Red the lead. BU did not stay down for long.
Thirty six seconds later, the Terriers lugged the puck into Cornell ice. Brandon Hickey got to a bouncing puck and threw a backhand pass toward the net. Shane Bowers was in the right place and tipped the puck through Galajda to tie the game. The rest of the period was even, with CU only outshooting BU 13-12 and the game entered the second intermission tied 1-1.
The third period took on an air of desperation as the clock wound on between these ancient rivals. Cornell fired salvos at Oettinger, but to no avail. BU got some offense on Galajda early and he saved some. Then traffic in front of the Cornell goalie gave an unlikely hero the chance to shine. Terrier defenseman David Farrance had one goal this season before the playoffs began. He scored in the Hockey East Semi-Finals against Boston College to help BU on their title run. And against Cornell, he gave BU the lead with a wrister from above the left circle 4:39 into the frame.
BU held on for dear life late in the game as Cornell outshot BU 9-4 for the third period. When the Big Red pulled Galajda from the net for an extra attacker, the red road ended. BU cleared the zone and Logan Cockerill potted an empty netter to give BU a 3-1 victory.
Cornell’s excellent season again came to an end in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. CU Head Coach Mike Schafer was disappointed after the game.
“Our guys went for it all night. That Bowers goal was a buzz kill. He just had some miscommunication on our end. But I’m very proud of our team. We had 10 freshman on our roster. You could write a leadership book about the job our upperclassmen did this year.”
The Big Red’s final record was 25-6-2. They won the ECAC Regular Season Championship for the first time in 13 years. CU will return their talented freshman class, including Matt Galajda, and continue to be a force in the ECAC.
Unfortunately, the five seniors on the team will not get to skate another game in Ithaca. Ryan Bliss, Hayden Stewart, Dwyer Tschantz, Jared Figel, Trevor Yates, and Captain Alex Rauter will graduate in May and leave Cornell Hockey poised to continue their tradition of winning.
The Terriers’ late season push continued. Their record now sits at 22-13-4. Coach Quinn was complimentary of both teams.
“That was playoff hockey at its finest. There wasn’t a lot of room out there. That’s as big and strong a team as you’ll find in college hockey. I’ve said this a lot, but you’ve gotta have some characteristics to win. You can’t just have talent, you’ve gotta have heart, desire, and mental toughness. I thought we had all that and that’s why we get to play tomorrow.”
BU will face Michigan for a spot in the Frozen Four. Puck drops at the DCU Center in Worcester at 4 pm.