The last player to notch a successful penalty shot for Cornell was Joe Nieuwendyk, and he’s been retired from a two-decade NHL career for almost ten years. Junior forward Alex Rauter’s penalty shot last night helped the Big Red preserve a win over UNH at Madison Square Garden.
It was a close contest, with Cornell assisted by excellent goaltending from senior netminder Mitch Gillam, and Rauter’s penalty shot goal with just over seven minutes left in the third period gave the Red some valuable breathing room. Rauter drew the penalty shot opportunity when he was hauled down on a shorthanded breakaway rush towards the New Hampshire goal. (Video below courtesy of eLynah.)
UNH had poured on the shots early in the first period, and scored the game’s first goal just over five minutes in, but Cornell got the equalizer on the power play almost seven minutes later, from Trevor Yates.
The second period’s only scoring came late in the frame, as Cornell freshman Noah Bauld got his first collegiate goal. The rookie deflected in a shot from sophomore Matt Nuttle, who also picked up his first collegiate point with the effort. It was Cornell’s eventual game-winner.
Gillam wasn’t the only Cornell player stopping shots in the crease. Rauter had a big moment here, as well, blocking a wraparound attempt by UNH skater Frankie Cefalu when the goaltender was caught out of position in the middle of the third period. It came just after the Big Red had successfully killed a 4×3 power play opportunity for UNH. In all, Cornell was a perfect 7 for 7 on the penalty kill.
That last successful penalty shot for the program came at Lynah Rink, when Joe Nieuwendyk scored on RPI on February 27th, 1987, thirty seasons ago, before skipping his senior year to go pro. Nieuwendyk is one of just two Cornell hockey players ever to have his jersey number retired, and is one of a handful of players in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup with three different clubs.
It was a precious win for the Big Red, who have just two previous wins in the total of eight games at Madison Square Garden. Cornell bested Michigan in 2012 and Penn State in 2014 in the first two “Frozen Apple” events, but is winless against Boston University in five “Red Hot Hockey” outings, with three losses and two ties.
The Big Red have three games in quick succession this week, a road trip to Hamilton to face Colgate at their new arena on Tuesday, followed by a pair of non-conference games against Miami University at Lynah Rink on Friday and Saturday. They’ll have a few weeks off before returning to action in the team’s annual visit to the Florida College Classic in Estero, with games on December 27th and 28th. Cornell’s conference schedule resumes in earnest in mid-January.