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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Cornell’s two-year captain made sure his last regular season weekend at Lynah is a memorable one.

Facing a 2-0 deficit in the third in the second-to-last regular season home game of the year, senior John McCarron turned in possibly the finest performance of his career. The Michigan native scored on a power play, and then tied the game with 32 seconds left, as the Big Red (10-11-5, 8-8-3 ECAC) tied RPI (9-22-2, 7-11-1 ECAC) 2-2 Friday night at Lynah Rink. The game was the second annual “Pink the Rink” game to raise money for breast cancer awareness.

Cornell dominated the first period, and it appeared many times that they would get on the board first. But they were unable to capitalize on several open shots and golden opportunities. The biggest chance came shorthanded, when they had an odd-man rush going the other way, but came up empty when Cole Bardreau missed an open net off a rebound. Despite outshooting 8-4 the Engineers in the open period, the game remained scoreless, thanks to some key saves by Jason Kasdorf, who finished with 29 saves on 31 shots.

The second period, however, belonged to RPI. With both teams skating pretty evenly for the first half of the frame, a Cornell turnover caused the first goal. Drew Melanson poked the puck away from a Cornell defender and fed it to Lou Nanne, who beat Mitch Gillam high to the glove side to make it 1-0. With the newfound momentum, they made it 2-0 just 33 seconds later. After the Big Red failed to clear the puck, Milos Bubela got the puck on the blue line and passed it to a wide-open Viktor Lilfergren in front of the net. Lilfergren shot the puck over Gillam’s blocker to make it a two-goal game, taking much of the energy out of the Lynah Faithful.

However, Cornell, and more specifically John McCarron, refused to go down without a fight. Gillam, who stopped 22 of 24 shots, allowed nothing else by him, and the Big Red responded. They were able to cut the lead in half just 3:31 into the third period. A slew of passes along the blue line by Jake Weidner and Cole Bardreau allowed McCarron to get open in the high slot. He fired a shot over Kasdorf’s blocker to make it 2-1, bringing the crowd back into the game. It was the third straight game in which the Big Red scored a power play goal. Cornell then spent the rest of the period peppering RPI’s goal with shots, but nothing came of it. It looked as if they would be swept by RPI in the regular season series for the first time since 1997-98.

But McCarron would not let that happen. After pulling Gillam with just over a minute left, the Big Red threw the kitchen sink at the Engineers. After a few blocked shots and key saves by Kasdorf, RPI’s inability to clear the puck cost them. After Jacob MacDonald had his shot blocked in the slot, McCarron got the puck in the right circle and blasted it home with 32 seconds left, sending the crowd into a hysteric frenzy. It was the second time this year that Cornell scored a dramatic last-minute goal at Lynah, with Eric Freschi scoring a goal with 40 seconds left last month to down Harvard 3-2.

However, unlike that game, the Big Red would have to settle for the tie. A Cornell shot took a funny bounce over Kasdorf, barely missing the net, with less than 10 seconds to go in regulation, but that was the closest either team got to scoring again. Forward Jeff Kubiak had a chance in overtime, but his shot rang low off the post.

Cornell will next face the Union Dutchmen tomorrow night at Lynah at 7:00 pm in the final regular season home game of the year. After the game, the team will honor the careers of their six seniors: Madison Dias, Cole Bardreau, Joel Lowry, Jacob MacDonald, Joakim Ryan and John McCarron.


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.