Junior forward Matt Stienburg scored two goals, including his second overtime winner in just the season’s seventh game, to lift the Cornell men’s hockey team to a 3-2 victory over Brown on Friday night at Lynah Rink.
Cornell (6-1, 4-1 ECAC Hockey, 2-1 Ivy League) — which entered the weekend ranked ninth in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll and 10th in the USCHO.com poll – never trailed in winning its fourth straight game. But the Big Red did have to survive plenty of anxious moments as Brown (1-3, 1-3, 1-2) rallied to force the extra frame.
That was all put to rest in three-on-three overtime, where the Big Red improved to 3-0 in its first foray into the NCAA’s new format to break ties after regulation time. The play started with junior defenseman Sam Malinski delivering a big hit inside the Cornell blue line to disrupt Brown’s advancing of the puck. The Bears kept the zone but tried to force the puck toward the slot, only to have Stienburg intercept the pass and start the counterattack.
Stienburg’s pass sent Andreev speeding into the left side of the neutral zone while Malinski – whose shift was approaching a full minute – eschewed a change by speeding past the Big Red’s bench and into the zone. Andreev could never find a passing lane to Malinski, but his drive to the net forced a speedy retreat from all of Brown’s defenders, and Andreev used the space to pull up and maneuver his way into the slot. The delayed attack allowed Stienburg to find space in the circle on his off wing, where Andreev found him with a perfect pass for a one-timer that Stienburg boomed past the blocker of Brown goaltender Mathieu Caron.
Stienburg was also responsible for the Big Red’s first goal with 59.9 seconds remaining in the first period. The goal was also assisted by Andreev, who boasts 10 points over his last three games, and freshman defenseman Hank Kempf. Just 21 seconds into the second period, it was sophomore forward Kyle Penney scored his third of the season to double the lead.
But as the game shifted from primarily five-on-five play to a game dotted with power plays in the second period, the Bears found their way back into the game.
“I was disappointed with the way our guys played tonight after the first period,” said Mike Schafer ’86, the Jay R. Bloom ’77 Head Coach of Men’s Hockey at Cornell. “I thought it was pretty reminiscent of the Union game (on Nov. 12) – we came out and were awful on the power play after we scored the second goal. … I think we thought it was going to be easier than it was going to be.”
After the Big Red squandered the game’s first two power plays, the pendulum swung back to the Bears – and they capitalized. Cole Quisenberry scored on the man advantage near the midway point of the game, then Michael Maloney scored on a rebound to tie the game with 16:23 to play in the third.
“As soon as we get a lead, we want to be able to hold that lead. But it’s not an easy thing to do, and we have a young team, and I think that’s all part of the growing process,” Stienburg said. “All in all, we got the win and that’s we want to do, but we want to make it a little easier on ourselves there and not have to go to overtime.”
But when Cornell’s penalty kill was needed most on a major penalty just about two minutes after Maloney’s goal, it delivered. Nate McDonald made three of his career-high 30 saves on the night to help kill off that Brown opportunity and eventually help the Big Red win in overtime.
“The five-minute PK was really big for us. … A lot of guys stepped up for us on the bench,” McDonald said. “When a guy goes down like that, it’s just an opportunity for other guys to pick a guy up. I think that’s what we did tonight.”
With his pair of tallies, Stienburg took over the team lead in goals with five while also expanding his scoring streak to a career-best six games – including eight points over his last three games. Kempf’s assist pushed his scoring streak to four games.
Cornell moved into a tie for first place in ECAC Hockey with idle Harvard, giving both teams 11 points through five games. The Big Red will have an opportunity to take solo possession of that lead on Saturday, when it takes on Yale at 7 p.m. in the team’s last true home game at Lynah Rink for more than two months.
“Did we play poorly? No, I don’t think we played poorly,” Schafer said. “Did we play well enough to our standards? No. … We had some guys respond well, and some guys that didn’t respond well.”