The College Hockey Blog named Cornell's triple-overtime loss to Wisconsin in the 2006 NCAA tournament the tenth-best college hockey game of the decade. In my own biased opinion, I think it should be higher. Cornell goalie Dave McKee turned in the best single-game performance I have ever seen from a goalie, stopping the first 59 shots he faced. The game was exciting not because it was high scoring, but because it was low-scoring! Who says posts and crossbars can't be exciting?
Regardless, here's my list of the top ten Cornell hockey games of the decade.
10. (03/23/02): Cornell 6, Quinnipiac 1, NCAA Regional Semifinal
Certainly not an exciting game, but a significant game nonetheless. This was Cornell's first trip to the NCAA tournament in five years, and the convincing victory over Quinnipiac proved that Cornell hockey had returned to the top tier of the NCAA. Cornell rebounded from a 4-3, 2OT loss to Harvard the week before in the ECAC final, and went on to give UNH everything it could handle in a 4-3 loss the next night.
9. (12/29/06): Cornell 5, New Hampshire 2, Florida College Classic Semifinal
Again, not a nail-biter, but a solid victory over a UNH squad which was ranked No. 2 in the nation at the time. This struck back against UNH after the NCAA losses in 2002 and 2003. However, the problem for Cornell in 2006-07 was consistency, and the Big Red lost the following night.
8. (11/10/06): Cornell 3, Harvard 2, ECAC Regular Season Game
Arguably the most exciting home hockey game during my time at Cornell. Cornell trailed 2-1 when Doug Krantz scored with 4:10 remaining in the third period. A breakaway goal by Mike Kennedy with less than two minutes left capped the comeback effort. Cornell improved to 5-0-0 on the season with this victory.
7. (03/11/06): Cornell 3, Clarkson 2, 2OT, ECAC Quarterfinal Game 2
Clarkson had a mediocre season, Cornell was ranked in the top 10 nationally. But the Golden Knights did not make things easy for the Big Red, taking both games of the series to double overtime. Cornell seemed to dominate in the two games, outshooting Clarkson 54-30 and 59-25. But the Big Red couldn't advance to Albany until Matt Moulson scored mid-way through the second overtime.
6. (03/28/09): Cornell 3, Northeastern 2, NCAA Regional Semifinal
Trailing 2-0 late in the 2nd period, Cornell comes all the way back. Colin Greening scores at 16:04 in the third to tie, and Evan Barlow gets the winning goal with 18 seconds remaining in the game.
5. (03/26/05): Cornell 3, Ohio State 2, NCAA Regional Semifinal
A similar comeback victory. Mike Iggulden scores a highlight-reel goal to put Cornell ahead for good. The Big Red had trailed 2-0 late in the second period.
4. (03/20/09): Cornell 4, Princeton 3, 2OT, ECAC Semifinal
With Cornell's NCAA hopes on the line, Evan Barlow and Riley Nash score in the last four minutes of the third period to tie the game, 3-3. Colin Greening scores mid-way through the second overtime to send Cornell back to the ECAC championship game for the first time since 2006.
3. (03/26/06): Wisconsin 1, Cornell 0, 3OT, NCAA Regional Final
See above. What a night for Dave McKee. Those were the good ol' days for him. Hey, maybe Cornell could have won the NCAA that season if they had been able to play every NCAA tournament game in upstate New York. Regardless of the bullshit home ice advantage which Wisconsin enjoyed, this game proved that the Big Red could compete with anyone in the country.
2. (03/22/03): Cornell 3, Harvard 2, OT, ECAC Championship Game
I'm including the tying goal because it was really the turning point in this game. Mark McRae scores with 33 seconds remaining in the third period. The win avenged Cornell's double-overtime loss to Harvard in the title game the previous year. This is an exciting sequence, as Harvard barely misses the empty-net goal.
Ah, screw it. Here's the game winner, courtesy of Sam Paolini:
1. (03/30/03): Cornell 2, Boston College 1, 2OT, NCAA Regional Final
Cornell's only Frozen Four appearance of the decade did not come easily. Dave Leneveu stopped 25 shots and Matt McRae, the other brother, scores to earn Cornell its first trip to the Frozen Four since 1980. Hopefully we won't wait another 23 years to return.
Honorable mention: Cornell 3, Colorado College 2, 2005 NCAA Regional Semifinal