Cornell Blanks Northeastern
ESTERO, Fla. -- Junior goaltender David McKee (Irving, Texas) and the Cornell penalty kill teamed up to blank Northeastern 3-0 in the first semifinal of the Florida College Classic on Tuesday afternoon at Germain Arena. McKee made 13 stops, and his teammates successfully killed off nine power plays.
The win runs the Big Red's (9-3-1) unbeaten streak to six games, which is the second-longest active streak in the country. The shutout is McKee's first of the year and the 16th of his career, extending his ECAC Hockey League record.
The first period was played almost exclusively in the Northeastern zone, but the Big Red could not capitalize until the 11:31 mark of the frame. A hooking call assessed to the Huskies at 10:00 put Cornell on the power play for the second of three times in the period, and senior captain Matt Moulson (Mississauga, Ont.) converted for his seventh extra-man score of the season, tying him for fifth in the nation. He took a pass from sophomore forward Raymond Sawada (Richmond, B.C.) at the top of the right circle and held it before ripping a slap shot that beat Northeastern junior goaltender Adam Gregorsian low to the stick side. Sophomore forward Topher Scott (Buffalo Grove, Ill.) also assisted. The goal extended Moulson's points streak to 10 straight games, breaking his career high of nine which he set during the 2003-04 season.
The Big Red struck again a little more than six minutes later. Freshman defenseman Taylor Davenport (Okotoks, Alb.) dug a puck off the right boards at the Cornell blue line and bounced it off the boards through the neutral zone. Senior forward Cam Abbott (Sarnia, Ont.) ran it down at the right dot, drawing the lone Huskies defender with him, and passed it across the slot to classmate Daniel Pegoraro (Toronto, Ont.). Pegoraro had been trailing the play and was there to backhand the puck home for his second goal of the year.
The Huskies (1-10-4) would manage just one shot in the first 20 minutes to the Big Red's four, but that would change in the second. Northeastern held a 9-7 advantage in shots on goal in the second period, thanks in large part to six Cornell penalties.
The Big Red added another goal to its lead in the fourth minute of the second period, when freshman Michael Kennedy (Dorchester, Ont.) won a faceoff in the right circle. The puck went directly to sophomore defenseman Doug Krantz (Marysville, B.C.), who unloaded a slap shot from the right point that set the final score at 3-0. The shutout would not come easily, however.
Midway through the second period, Cornell was forced to kill off 1:22 of a 5-on-3 Northeastern advantage. After doing so, the Big Red came within one second of killing the second penalty, but a third was called, leading to another second of 5-on-3 and 1:59 of 5-on-4 hockey. During that stretch, McKee made a number of nice sliding pad saves, as Northeastern tried to work the puck around and score from the back side. The Huskies could not take advantage though.
The Huskies had two outstanding chances to break up the shutout in the final period. At the 6:26 mark, sophomore forward Jimmy Russo got behind the Cornell defense and had a 1-on-0 breakaway against McKee. His shot hit the crossbar and caromed harmlessly away. Six minutes later, Northeastern had a 2-on-2 transition situation. Krantz broke his stick on a shot attempt from the Huskies' blue line, and junior Bryan Esner took the puck and charged the Cornell net through the left circle. Krantz could not poke the puck away, but McKee was there to make the stop.
The Big Red will return to the ice on Wednesday at 7:35 p.m. to face the winner of the game between No. 9/8 Maine and Minnesota Duluth. Cornell will be aiming to capture its second Ned Harkness Cup, which is awarded annually to the winner of the Florida College Classic. The cup, named for the legendary coach who piloted both of Cornell's NCAA championship teams, was last claimed by the Big Red in 2003.