It’s tough for a team to win a hockey game if they cannot beat the opposing goaltender. The Northeast Regional semifinal of the 2018 NCAA hockey tournament between the No. 13 Boston University men’s hockey team and No. 4 Cornell University featured two elite goaltenders: BU’s (22-13-4, 12-8-4 Hockey) sophomore Jake Oettinger and Cornell’s (25-6-2) freshman Matthew Galajda.
The Terriers won the battle and the semifinals 3-1 due to goals by freshmen forwards Shane Bowers and Logan Cockerill as well as defenseman David Farrance.
The fans in Worcester were treated to a goaltender battle between Oettinger, a Dallas Stars first round draft pick, and Galajda, a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award and the Mike Richter Award.
Galajda entered the contest the contest with a goal save percentage of .940 and a goals against average of 1.49. He is also the first freshman goaltender to be named as a Top 10 finalist for the Hobey Baker.
“Matty’s been great,” Cornell senior forward Trevor Yates said. “He’s been great even when he lets in a bad goal he always makes the next and he’s a huge part to our team’s success this year.”
During the first period of play, Galajda did not allow a goal despite the Terriers rattling off eight shots.
However, his netminding counterpart, Oettinger was equally as perfect during the first 20 minutes of play and thwarted off nine shots from the BigRed.
Since the start of the second half of the season on Jan. 6, Oettinger has a goals against average of 1.96 and a goal save percentage of .931 after struggling in the first half of the season. During his first 18 games of the season, the Lakeville, Minnesota native sported a 2.91 goals against average and a goal save percentage of .903.
One team had to score first, and the Big Red did just that.
Yates released a shot from just inside the right circle, which beat Oettinger up on his stick side to give Cornell the 1-0 lead 7:27 into the second.
However, the Terriers responded 36 seconds later and knotted the game up at one.
“Well for 36 seconds it didn’t feel good,” BU head coach David Quinn said on being down 1-0.
Bowers redirected a pass from senior defenseman and captain Brandon Hickey in front of crease to tie the game up at one with 8:03 left in the contest.
Neither goaltender got beat again in the second period, despite the Terriers putting up 12 shots and the Big Red having 13 shots.
It took until the third period for one of the stout goaltenders to get beat for the second time.
Freshman forward Brady Tkachuk skated behind Cornell’s net and found Farrance in the left circle who then fired a one-timer that beat Galajda after hitting the post.
Galajda finished the contest with 21 saved and Oettinger stopped 30 shots.
“[Oettinger] is a great goalie, and we all know that,” Quinn said. “…The think I like about our game is I think we’re working in sync with him, our d-zone coverage is working well with him. He’s making the first save and not giving up a lot of second chances off the shot.”
The Terriers do not have to look back too far for another stellar performance from Oettinger during an NCAA tournament game.
Last season, against the defending national champions the then-No. 10 University of North Dakota, Oettinger made 56 saves in the double overtime victory.
During the Hockey East championship game against No. 7 Providence College, Oettinger stopped all 30 of the Friars (23-11-4, 13-7-4 Hockey East) in the 2-0 shutout.
“He’s just playing with a whole lot of confidence,” Quinn said. “He looks big, there’s not a lot of net to see and he’s got swagger. He’s got his swagger back and that’s infectious.”
The Terriers will take on the winner of No. 8 Northeastern University and No. 10 the University of Michigan in search of punching their ticket to St. Paul, Minnesota for the Frozen Four.
“It’s similar to what we went through last weekend we had a heck of a game against [Boston College],” Quinn said. “…Now we’re going to wait to see who we play tomorrow…. They’re all great teams from here on in. They’ve been great teams since this tournament started. We’ve played a lot of really good teams throughout the Hockey East playoffs. Our guys know what they’re instore for.”