Editor’s Note: This story was written by and republished with the permission of the Big Red Sports Network, which provides excellent Cornell sports coverage throughout the year for alumni, parents, students and fans everywhere.
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Ithaca, N.Y. — The Cornell men’s ice hockey team opened its season with a 1-1 tie against Nebraska-Omaha on Friday night. The Red came away with a point, but Head Coach Mike Schafer was not happy with his team’s effort.
“Our leadership needs to step up and stop talking…and they need to start playing,” Schafer said after the game. “I don’t typically talk about our players in the media, but I’m tired of this group talking the talk but not walking the walk.”
Cornell got off to a solid start. In the first period, Matt Buckles began his sophomore season on a high note, burying a one-timer on a slick pass from Jacob MacDonald at the 17:49 mark. The Red were also able to hold the Mavericks scoreless in the first, despite 12 shots and a golden 5-on-3 opportunity.
While Schafer was generally upset about the way the Red played, he was very satisfied with the effort of sophomore goaltender Mitch Gillam, who made 38 saves in the tie. Schafer described Gillam’s play as “outstanding”.
Omaha evened the score nearly five minutes into the second period when freshman defenseman Dan Wedman whiffed on a puck at the blue line, allowing Omaha to pick up the puck in the neutral zone and quickly establish an odd man rush. A superb back-and-forth between Jake Randolph and Tyler Vesel resulted in the equalizing goal. It was the first goal of Vesel’s young career, and the first goal Cornell allowed this season.
The Red nearly pulled ahead toward the end of the second period. Cornell was on the power play after a delay-of-game call against Omaha’s Avery Peterson. Just ten seconds into the power play, a one-time attempt from Cole Bardreau ricochetted off the body of goaltender Ryan Massa. Jake Weidner scooped up the loose puck and deposited it into the back of the net, but not before Massa’s mask came dislodged. By rule, play stops immediately when any player’s mask comes off, and this nullified what would have been the go-ahead goal. In a quick look at the replay, players acknowledged after the game that the officials made the correct call.
There was a lot of back-and-forth throughout the remainder of the game, but neither team could score. Of note, Cornell star defenseman Joakim Ryan sustained an undisclosed injury late in the game. Ryan’s status for tomorrow night is up in the air, but it looks like Ryan won’t be off the ice for an extended period of time.
Cornell and Omaha will wrap up their two-game set tomorrow night at 7 PM at Lynah Rink.