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Cornell claims 13th Whitelaw Cup with win over St. Lawrence

  • / Updated:
  • Kyle Evans 

Freshman forward Jonathan Castagna scored two goals to lead the No. 14-ranked Cornell men’s hockey team to its ECAC Hockey-leading 13th Whitelaw Cup with a 3-1 victory over St. Lawrence before 4,912 at Herb Brooks Arena on Saturday evening.

Cornell’s victory was its first time claiming the Whitelaw Cup since 2010, when it shut out Union, 3-0, on March 20 at the then-called Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y.

Junior defenseman Hank Kempf and sophomore forward Dalton Bancroft, who each chipped in two assists, joined Castagna in having multi-point nights. Junior forward Jack O’Leary tacked an empty-net goal to solidify the Big Red, clinching ECAC Hockey’s automatic qualifying bid for the 2024 NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey Championship, which begins next weekend.

Ian Shane made 31 saves in the victory as the junior goaltender secured his 48th collegiate win. Shane is now tied with Dave Elenbaas (1970-73) and Corrie D’Alessio (1987-91) for the seventh-most wins by a Big Red netminder.

Cameron Buhl recorded the lone goal for St. Lawrence (14-19-6), which had a 26-save performance from Ben Kraws between the pipes.

Castagna potted the first of his two goals when he lofted a puck after a Saints defender blocked Bancroft’s shot attempt early in the first period.

The latter Castagna goal doubled Cornell’s lead in the second, as the first-year forward cleaned up a loose rebound of Kempf’s shot from the point.

Kraws made a stellar save in the middle of the third period, robbing Bancroft of a goal on a one-timer near the left post, keeping the Big Red’s lead to 2-0.

Just 38 seconds later, St. Lawrence used the momentum from Kraws’ save to score its lone tally when Buhl wristed a shot from the right faceoff circle, beating Shane to his high-glove side.

O’Leary had a chance to give Cornell a two-goal lead, but his backhand shot attempt toward an empty net hit the left post, leading to St. Lawrence generating a couple of chances to tie the game. With 28 seconds left, O’Leary avenged hitting the post on his first shot attempt at the Saints’ open net, punctuating Cornell’s victory.

GAME NOTES
• Saturday was the 126th all-time meeting between the Empire State rivals. Cornell increased its lead in the series to 70-47-9 while improving to 13-3-1 over its last 17 games, dating back to the 2015-16 season.

• In postseason play, Cornell is now 5-5 all-time against St. Lawrence. Saturday was the Big Red’s first playoff win over the Saints since posting a 6-2 victory in the preliminary round of the 1995 ECAC Hockey Championship at Appleton Arena in Canton, N.Y.

• With his two-goal effort, Castagna increased his season goal total to 11, leading Cornell in having a pair of freshmen with 10-plus goals in the same season since Matt Moulson (13) and Shane Hynes (11) in 2002-03. It is the sixth season the Big Red has had multiple first-year players with a double-digit goal total, joining the teams from 1977-78, 1982-83, 1987-88, 1998-99, and 2002-03.

MULTIPLE FRESHMEN WITH 10-PLUS GOALS
Cornell Program History
• 1977-78 (Roy Kerling – 29, Brock Tredway – 28)
• 1982-83 (Duanne Moeser – 17, Pete Natyshak – 12)
• 1987-88 (Trent Andison – 21, Doug Derraugh – 11)
• 1998-99 (Denis Ladouceur – 14, David Kozier – 11)
• 2002-03 (Matt Moulson – 13, Shane Hynes – 11)
• 2023-24 (Ryan Walsh – 12, Jonathan Castagna -11)

• Castagna’s two goals also upped his point total to 25, marking the most points by a Cornell freshman player since Riley Nash (12-20—32) in 2007-08. Only five other Cornell players have had 25-point seasons in their freshman year under Mike Schafer ’86, joining Kyle Knopp (11-22—33 in 1995-96), Ryan Moynihan (8-19—27 in 1996-97), Denis Ladouceur (14-14—28 in 1998-99), Ryan Vesce (7-20—27 in 2000-01), and Nash in 2007-08.

MOST POINTS BY A FRESHMAN PLAYER
Mike Schafer ’86 Era (Since 1995-96)
• 33, Kyle Knopp (11-22—33) in 1995-96
• 32, Riley Nash (12-20—32) in 2007-08
• 28, Denis Ladouceur (14-14—28) in 1998-99
• 27, Ryan Moynihan (8-19—27) in 1996-97
• 27, Ryan Vesce (7-20—27) in 2000-01
• 25, Jonathan Castagna (11-14—25) in 2023-24

UP NEXT

Cornell will find out its destination for the opening weekend of the 2024 NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey Championship on Sunday during the annual NCAA Hockey Selection Show, which will air from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. on ESPNU with John Buccigross, Andrew Raycroft, and Colby Cohen.

The potential cities Cornell could play in next weekend are Maryland Heights, Mo., Providence, R.I., Sioux Falls, S.D., or Springfield, Mass.

2024 NCAA DIVISION I MEN’S HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
REGIONAL SEMIFINALS
Thursday, March 28

Sioux Falls, S.D.
Springfield, Mass.

Friday, March 29
Maryland Heights, Mo.
Providence, R.I.

REGIONAL FINALS
Saturday, March 30

Sioux Falls, S.D.
Springfield, Mass.

Sunday, March 31
Maryland Heights, Mo.
Providence, R.I.