Cornell's Ian Shane stifles defending national champion Denver in Manchester regional
Big Red will now face Boston University for a trip to the Frozen Four.
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- There will be a new national champion. No. 12 Cornell, with a 27-save shutout by Hobey Baker nominee Ian Shane, used two first-period goals and held off No. 4 and last season’s Frozen Four winner Denver on Thursday in the Manchester Regional at SNHU Arena.
Denver goaltender Magnus Chrona settled in after the first period but the Pioneers simply couldn’t solve Shane, who came into the game second in the nation in goals against average at 1.76.
Shane stopped 16 in the third period alone against Denver, which finished 30-10-0. Cornell will face No. 5 Boston University at 3 p.m. (CT) on Saturday for a berth into the Frozen Four. The Terriers beat Western Michigan 5-1 in the early game Thursday.
It will be Big Red's first regional final since the 2018-2019 season.
After scoring 13 goals in a two-game sweep of Miami Denver in the NCHC quarterfinals on March 10-11, the Pioneers’ offense stalled again. Blanked 1-0 by Colorado College last Friday in the Frozen Faceoff semifinals, Denver saw limited chances against Big Red as Shane recorded his fifth shutout of the season and his first since beating Brown 5-0 a month ago.
"I said this on Wednesday, I don’t know how he is not an all-league goalie," Cornell head coach Mike Schafer said. "He has the second-best goals against average in the country and he doesn’t even get third team in our league or second team in the All-Ivy. And I think that’s his mentality as he has a little chip on his shoulder to prove people wrong."
Cornell took the lead in the first period when junior forward Jack O’Leary followed a dump-in shot and found himself with the puck after Chrona stopped a shot out front. O’Leary shoveled the puck to his backhand and stuffed it for a 1-0 advantage.
Cornell!!! Take a 1-0 lead to start the 1st thanks to Jack O’Leary 👀 pic.twitter.com/BwdtEozC8p— EVERYTHING COLLEGE HOCKEY (@TeamECH) March 23, 2023
Playing from behind hasn't been Denver's strength this season, going 9-9 when giving up the first goal. But that wasn't on Schafer's mind.
"I had a chance last year at the NCAAs to watch them play in Boston and win the national championship," he said. "That’s what made me so nervous in the third period, watching them come back versus Minnesota State. They have a heck of a hockey team that made a big push in the third period."
A comeback never mounted.
“I would say we’re still playing our game, so it’s just the way it goes sometimes," Denver sophomore forward Carter Mazure said. "We ran into two hot goaltenders at the time so that’s another reason, but we still need to find ways to put the puck in the back of the net and we didn’t do that."
Big Red extended its lead about nine minutes later when senior forward Ben Berard jumped out of the box after serving a minor tripping penalty and into a rush toward the Denver goal. O’Leary fought for possession of the puck behind the Denver net and the puck found Berard, camped on the side of the net, and shot it past Chrona.
Ben Berard makes it 2-0 Cornell! Can they pull off the upset?— EVERYTHING COLLEGE HOCKEY (@TeamECH) March 23, 2023
"Emotions are still rough for us and our group," Denver coach David Carle said. "We started the game, we didn’t start it how we wanted to, got better as it went on, but ultimately did not find a way to crack through like we have in games past, in this tournament. Very thankful to our players, especially our seniors for all they have given to our program, what they have added to the Pioneer legacy.”
For Cornell's Mike Schafer, this national tournament is his 13th, which leads all active head coaches.
Cornell (21-10-2) had a great chance, actually two, to make it 3-0 early in the third when senior defenseman Sam Malinski chipped the puck up the ice and onto the stick of freshman forward Nick DeSantis. DeSantis outraced two Pioneers and was tripped by Denver sophomore defenseman Shai Buium as the puck trickled in against Chrona.
Awarded a penalty shot, DeSantis skated in on Chrona’s right side, cut toward the middle and fired a forehand toward the left post and Chrona got a pad on it to keep a two-goal game.
Now it'll be a big Saturday for Big Red.
“Well, we will celebrate. I mean we have to be happy. Why play the game if you’re not celebrating?" Schafer said. "These guys will get back to work tomorrow. How do we prepare for BU? Same way we did last time. They are a hell of a hockey team. I texted [BU head coach] Jay Pandolfo after that game and said that they taught us lessons we needed to learn."
First period -- 1, C, Jack O’Leary (Max Andreev, Matt Stienburg), 2:49. 2, C, Ben Berard (O’Leary), 11:28. Penalties: D, Mike Benning (tripping), 5:21. C, Berard (tripping), 9:12. D, McKade Webster (cross checking), 17:44..
Second period -- Penalties: D, Justin Lee (5-direct hit to head), 0:24. C, Dalton Bancroft (5- interference), 9:33.
Third period -- Penalties: D, Shai Buium (tripping), 2:24.
Shots on goal -- C, 8-9-10--27; D, 6-5-16--27. Goalies -- C, Shane (27 shots, 27 saves); D, Chrona (27 shots, 25 saves). Power plays -- Cornell 0-of-4, Denver 0-for-2 . Referees -- Andrew Bruggerman, Sean Fernandez. Linesmen -- Tommy George, Jake Davis. Att. 3,631.