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Castagna propels #14 Cornell to win over Princeton

Freshman forward Jonathan Castagna recorded a four-point night, including his first collegiate hat trick, to guide the No. 14-ranked Cornell men’s hockey team to a resounding 6-2 victory over Princeton before 4,181 at Lynah Rink on Friday night.

Joining Castagna in logging multi-point nights were his linemates, junior forwards Jack O’Leary (one goal, one assist) and Sullivan Mack (two assists).

“I think me, O’Leary, and Mack were just having a great game tonight,” Castagna said. “We knew the details, we stuck to them, and we knew how to break them down. I credit all three of us for knowing what we were going to do and executing it.”

Sophomore forward Nick DeSantis was the lone other Cornell player to have a multi-point night, scoring the Big Red’s first and final goals. 

Junior goaltender Ian Shane stopped 15 shots between the pipes for Cornell (9-4-3, 4-4-1 ECAC) as the Big Red is now unbeaten in its last five games (3-0-2).

David Jacobs posted a goal and an assist in the setback for the Tigers, while Ethan Pearson made 29 saves in goal for Princeton (6-10-2, 5-6-1 ECAC), who has now lost its last five games.

Cornell opened the scoring five minutes into the contest as freshman defenseman Marian Mosko used a stretched outlet pass to junior forward Kyle Penney, who chipped the puck up to DeSantis to pot the game’s first tally. 

Mosko’s assist was the first point of his collegiate career.

Not even a minute after Princeton leveled the game in the second period on a power-play goal from Jacobs, Castagna netted the first of his two goals in 31 seconds to give the Big Red the lead for good.

The first Castagna goal came immediately following an offensive zone faceoff win and O’Leary had a shot blocked, allowing Castagna to capitalize on the rebound attempt.

Both teams elected not to change lines following the goal, leading to Castagna’s highlight-reel goal that gave Cornell a two-goal cushion.

“No one expects to score two [goals] in one shift, but I was pretty hungry for it,” Castagna stated. “It was pretty special to get two in one shift. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before.”

Following a Princeton miscue in its offensive zone, Cornell pounced on its takeaway, leading to a brilliant display of passing between Castagna and Mack to set up O’Leary for his marker.

Castagna benefited from a Princeton defensive zone turnover as the first-year player intercepted a pass and deposited his third puck inside the Tigers’ cage on the night.

DeSantis tacked on an insurance marker for Cornell as he potted an empty-net goal with under two minutes remaining as the Tigers elected to pull their goaltender while having a power-play opportunity.

• Friday marked the 162nd meeting between the Ivy League rivals, dating back to Feb. 17, 1926. Cornell recorded its 100th all-time victory over Princeton, 100-54-8, marking the first time the Big Red has won 100 games against a singular opponent.

• The Big Red continued its dominance over the Tigers as of late, posting its 19th win in the last 23 meetings (19-4-0). On home ice against Princeton in the Mike Schafer ’86 era, Cornell improved its mark to 24-5-1 (.817), the second-best win percentage over a conference opponent (Brown: 22-3-2 — .852).

• Cornell’s six-goal output was the program’s most at Lynah Rink since posting a 10-1 victory over Union last season on Feb. 4, 2023. It was the most goals scored against Princeton since Jan. 5, 2018, when the Big Red prevailed 7-1 at Lynah Rink.

• Castagna’s hat trick was the first by a Cornell player since Dalton Bancroft in Cornell’s 6-0 victory over UConn at the Frozen Apple last season at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 26. 2022. The hat trick was the first by a Big Red player at Lynah Rink since Max Andreev had a four-goal game on Nov. 13, 2021, against RPI in an 11-3 triumph. It was also the first hat trick by a Cornell freshman on home ice since Ben Berard against Clarkson in the 2019-20 regular-season finale on Feb. 29, 2020.

• The pair of goals in 31 seconds by Castagna was the first time a Cornell player scored twice within 31 seconds or less since Brenden Locke scored twice in 12 seconds against Arizona State on Jan. 2, 2022. It was the quickest succession of goals by the same player at Lynah Rink since Trent Andison went 27 seconds between goals, also against Princeton, on Nov. 11, 1988.

• Over his collegiate career, DeSantis has 11 career points in January, posting four goals and seven assists over 10 career games.

• Junior defenseman Hank Kempf posted a plus-5 rating, tying the single-game high in Division I hockey this season. The rating is the best mark by a Cornell player since Max Andreev and Matt Stienburg both had plus-5 ratings against RPI in the 11-3 win on Nov. 13, 2021. Kempf tied the highest plus-minus rating by an ECAC Hockey player this season, joining Quinnipiac’s CJ McGee (Jan. 12, 2024 versus Princeton), Colgate’s Simon Labelle (Nov. 17, 2023 versus Princeton), and Union’s John Prokop (Oct. 8, 2023 versus Army).


The No. 14-ranked Big Red will remain at Lynah Rink to conclude this weekend’s slate when it welcomes No. 3-ranked Quinnipiac (15-5-2, 9-1-1 ECAC) to East Hill for a 7 p.m. puck drop on Saturday. Game action will be broadcast on ESPN+ and over the airwaves on WHCU (870 AM, 97.7 FM,