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#17 Cornell ties with #13 Arizona State, falls in shootout

Arizona State’s Kyle Smolen netted the deciding goal in the best-of-three-round shootout to aid No. 13-ranked Arizona State to the Adirondack Winter Invitational title over the No. 17-ranked Cornell men’s hockey team after the sides played to a 2-2 tie at Herb Brooks Arena on Saturday night.

Senior forward Gabriel Seger and freshman defenseman George Fegaras netted the goals in regulation for Cornell (6-4-3), both of which came while the Big Red was on the power play.

Jackson Niedermayer and Matthew Kopperud potted the goals for the Sun Devils (14-3-5), who extended its unbeaten streak to eight games (4-0-4).

Junior goaltender Ian Shane made 18 saves for Cornell, while Arizona State’s TJ Semptimphelter shoved aside 25 shots.

“I thought we were solid,” said Mike Schafer ’86, the Jay R. Bloom ’77 Head Coach of Cornell Men’s Ice Hockey. “We didn’t make that many mistakes, but they made us pay when we did, which a good offensive team does. We had some real growth from our younger players, and even some guys returning came back and played with a little more consistency tonight.

“Coming off a break, playing two games in two days after only two practices, you’re always worried. Typically, guys are exhausted by that second night, but we had a good jump and credit to our guys. Their commitment over the break when we’re not practicing for three weeks, they worked hard in the gym and kept their conditioning up because it’s not easy to play that second game on the second night. Kudos to our guys for doing it.”

Neither team could generate much offense in the opening 15 minutes, as Cornell held a 3-2 edge in shots before Seger netted his power-play marker to give the Big Red a 1-0 lead.

Cornell extended its lead to two when Fegaras wristed a shot from the top of the right faceoff circle past Semptimphelter with one second left on the Big Red power play early in the second period.

Jackson Niedermayer countered Fegaras’ goal with a marker 17 seconds later to cut the Big Red lead in half.

Both teams had many scoring chances in the remaining 14-plus minutes of the middle frame, but Shane and Semptimphelter were up to the task and kept all shots out of their respective cages.

Arizona State evened the game 43 seconds into the third period on the power play as Cornell attempted to clear the puck out of its defensive zone following a save by Shane, but Kopperud wristed a shot from the right faceoff circle into the near top corner.

Cornell applied offensive zone pressure late in the third period as the Big Red peppered Semptimphelter six shot attempts in a minute. Of the six shot attempts, four reached the Arizona State netminder.

The Big Red had three grade-A scoring chances in overtime from freshman defenseman Ben Robertson. His first two chances were back-handed shots on the right side of the net before his latter attempt came on a snapshot from the left side of the right faceoff circle.

In the later stages of overtime, the Sun Devils had a pair of odd-man chances but could not yield a shot attempt.

Arizona State and Cornell had their first two attempts stopped in the shootout before Smolen gave the Sun Devils the advantage. Sophomore forward Winter Wallace took the attempt for Cornell to try and extend the shootout, but Semptimphelter made a pad save to give Arizona State the Adirondack Winter Invitational title.

“I thought their goaltender was unbelievable tonight,” Schafer commended. “He made great saves for them.” 

GAME NOTES

• Saturday was the fifth all-time meeting between Cornell and Arizona State and the first-ever contest played at a neutral site between the two programs. Following the tie, the series between the Big Red and Sun Devils remains even at 2-2-1.

• Three of Cornell’s five games against Arizona State have come when the Sun Devils have been ranked No. 13 in the USCHO.com poll. Following Saturday’s tie, the Big Red is now 2-0-1 when facing a ranked Sun Devils squad.

• Cornell is now 5-4-3 against opponents ranked No. 13 in the USCHO.com poll. The draw marked the Big Red’s third consecutive non-winning result against a No. 13-ranked team, as it also tied with No. 13 Clarkson, 2-2, on March 2, 2019, and lost to No. 13 Harvard, 3-2, on Nov. 5, 2021.

• Cornell has played in overtime in back-to-back games for the first time since facing then-No. 1 Quinnipiac (2-1 win on Jan. 22, 2022) before playing to a pair of 2-2 ties against Dartmouth (Jan. 28, 2022) and Harvard (Jan. 29, 2022).

• The Big Red holds a 402-22-29 record under Mike Schafer ’86 when taking the lead into the third period, including a 5-0-2 mark this season.

UP NEXT

Cornell will have another weekend away from competition before heading to Tempe, Ariz., for a two-game series against Arizona State at Mullett Arena. The series begins on Friday, Jan. 12, with a 9 p.m. ET (7 p.m. MT) puck drop before the series concludes the following night with a 7 p.m. ET (5 p.m. MT) start. Both games will be broadcast on Pac-12 Insider and over the airwaves on WHCU (870 AM, 97.7 FM, whcuradio.com).

“They’re good on special teams,” Schafer stated. “You’ve got to be disciplined. I thought our guys did a good job controlling the pace of the game. They’re really good in transition, but it will be two tough games in Arizona, and we’ll have a couple of weeks to get ready for it.”