The worst thing you can probably do at Lynah Rink is fall behind by three goals in the first period against Cornell.
That happened to Union on Saturday night, and the Dutchmen never recovered. And any hopes of an ECAC Hockey tournament first-round bye are gone.
Sophomore forward Riley Nash has two goals and two assists, and freshman defenseman Keir Ross scored the first goals of his collegiate career, powering the 11th-ranked Big Red to a 5-2 ECAC Hockey win over the Dutchmen.
Union (8-10-2 ECACH, 15-14-3 overall), which earned a first-round bye last year, is four points in back of St. Lawrence and Dartmouth for the final first-round bye. However, if there is a three-way tie among the teams, Union loses out because it has amassed just a point — a tie against Dartmouth. The Big Green have five points — three against the Dutchmen, and two against the Saints. St. Lawrence, which visits Union on Friday, has four points — two against the Dutchmen, and two against Dartmouth. A win over the Saints would give the Dutchmen three points.
The Dutchmen are tied with Clarkson for eighth, the final first-round home-ice spot. They will play at Messa in the regular-season finale next Saturday.
“You always want to get first-round home ice,” said Dutchmen forward Jason Walters, who extended his goal-scoring streak to four games with a power-play goal late in the first period. “The ball’s in our court. We have two teams who are just in front of us who are coming to our rink. Next weekend’s huge.”
If the Dutchmen get off to another slow start like they did against the Big Red (12-5-3, 17-6-4), next weekend will be their final home games of the season.
Cornell scored on its first two shots of the game. Ross sneaked in from the right point and one-timed a pass from Locke Jillson, who was behind the net, past goalie Corey Milan at 2:21.
Nash made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 5:06, tipping in a Blake Gallagher drive past Milan. That snapped Union’s streak of killing off penalties at 27 attempts.
“I thought we came out a little timid to start,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “I’m disappointed in that because we have a veteran group that’s been here before, [and] that’s won in this building before. They knew what to expect with the environment.”
NASH PADS LEAD
Nash made it a three-goal lead with 3:09 left. Taking a pass from his brother, Brendon Nash, Riley Nash got behind Union defensemen Lane Caffaro and Brock Matheson, and beat Milan to his left.
“We flat out didn’t have an answer for him,” Leaman said. “I tried every center, and we didn’t have an answer for him. He’s an outstanding player. He’s a first-round draft pick. I thought [Colgate’s David] McIntyre was best forward in our league, and then I see Nash put a performance on like that on us. I thought that was outstanding.”
After Walters cut it to 3-1 late in the first, Caffaro scored a power-play goal at 8:39 of the second period. But nearly 3 1/2 minutes later, Ross scored on a scramble in front of the net. Evan Barlow added a power-play goal midway through the third, clinching a first-round bye for the Big Red, and putting the Dutchmen into two must-win situations.
“Next weekend’s going to be a big weekend,” Caffaro said. “I don’t expect us to come out flat.”
Union 110 — 2
Cornell 311 — 5
First Period — 1, Cornell, Ross 1 (Jillson, Gallagher), 2:21. 2, Cornell, R. Nash 10 (Gallagher, Barlow), 5:06 (pp). 3, Cornell, R. Nash 11 (B. Nash, Devin), 16:51. 4, Union, Walters 12 (Milnamow, Valery-Trabucco), 18:27 (pp). Penalties — Cook, Uni (boarding), 4:32; Nicholls, Cor (tripping), 17:50; R. Nash, Cor (cross-checking), 18:13.
Second Period — 5, Union, Caffaro 8 (Schreiber), 8:39 (pp). 6, Cornell, Ross 2 (Barlow, R. Nash), 12:02. Penalties — Valery-Trabucco, Uni (tripping), :26; Seminoff, Cor (cross-checking), 3:18; Boileau, Uni (roughing), 7:39; Collins, Cor (elbowing), 7:39.
Third Period — 7, Cornell, Barlow 6 (R. Nash, B. Nash), 9:38 (pp). Penalties — Ta. Davenport, Cor (boarding), 6:47; Union bench, served by Cain (too many men), 7:49; Harr, Uni (holding), 11:21.
Shots on Goal — Union 9-10-13 — 32. Cornell 5-8-6 — 19.
Power-play opportunities — Union 2 of 5; Cornell 2 of 4.
Goalies — Union, Milan 15-14-3 (19 shots-14 saves). Cornell, Scrivens 17-6-4 (31-29), DiLeo (18:35 third, 1-1).
A — 4,267. T — 2:15.
Referees — Harry Dumas, Chip McDonald. Linesmen — David Brown, Brett Reed.