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Cornell opens season with 3-2 win over Alaska in overtime

The Cornell men’s hockey team wasted little time testing out college hockey’s revamped overtime protocol, leading to senior Brenden Locke’s game-winner 40 seconds in the extra frame to cap the Big Red’s come-from-behind 3-2 victory at Lynah Rink on Friday.

Competing in overtime’s three-on-three format for the first time since the rule change before the 2020-21 season, the Big Red never relinquished possession in the extra session to build up to Locke’s goal. Junior defenseman Sam Malinski provided the deft feed from the top of the left circle, finding Locke crashing toward the far post for the deflection high inside the near post.

It felt like a fitting way to end the game for 16th-ranked Cornell (1-0), which was threatening to take the lead ever since senior Kyle Betts’ unlikely tying goal with 9:28 to play in the third period. Betts chased an Alaska (1-6) defender on the forecheck that forced a hurried pass across the crease, only to carom into the goal off the skates of goaltender Gustavs Davis Grigals.

Adding to the irony was the fact that the game’s previous goal was also inadvertent friendly fire, with the final two touches of the puck coming off Cornell defenders before slipping into the goal. Didrik Henbrant was credited with that goal just 22 seconds after the Big Red got on the board with freshman Ondrej Psenicka’s first collegiate goal, coming on a deft redirection of a shot from junior forward Zach Tupker.

Senior Nate McDonald earned the victory for Cornell with 21 saves in his collegiate debut. He was called upon more heavily early in the game before Alaska’s Brayden Nicholetts broke through on the rush at 4:58 of the second period. The Big Red would go on to outshoot the Nanooks, 13-2, over the third period and overtime.