Cornell Freshman's Hat Trick, 1st 3 Career Goals
Malott Lifts Big Red to 5-1 Win
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
PRINCETON, N.J. Growing up in Burlington, Ontario, it's just a stone's throw to Mississauga, home of Cornell alum and current NHL forward Matt Moulson.
So, it's no wonder that current Cornell freshman Jeff Malott grew up admiring the Big Red sniper.
Now he's joined him in the annals of Cornell hockey history.
Friday at Princeton, Malott became the first Cornell freshman since Moulson in 2003 to record a hat trick. He did it all in the first period before leaving the game with a minor injury. The injury denied Malott the opportunity to match the most recent four-goal performance by a Cornell — Ryan Hughes, all the way back in 1991, who had all of Cornell's goals in a 5-4 loss to Boston College. Both of those guys went on to the NHL (Hughes, albeit briefly, 3 games). But for now, Malott was happy with more modest achievements.
The goals were also the first three of his college career.
"I would've been happy if I stopped at one," Malott said. "It's been a long time coming, and I've got great linemates that helped out with that. It was nice to get the first one."
That one staked Cornell to a 1-0 lead. Princeton tied it, but a pair of nice deflections by Malott were redirected past Tigers goaltender Colton Phinney for a 3-1 lead. Malott didn't return after the first period, but Cornell went on to a 5-1 win and has crept back up to No. 13 in the Pairwise.
After the third one, captain Patrick McCarron pulled the puck out of the net to give Malott as a keepsake. Then, after leaving the game with the injury, Malott called home to share the news.
"I called my dad to let him know, but they were watching the game and they knew (already)," he said.
Said Cornell coach Mike Schafer, "He was due. We couldn't believe he had no goals, then he gets three and gets hurt, which is really unfortunate. But he's a great kid, he's just been snakebitten. But he scored one and things opened up for him. ... He's a good player that has a bright future."
Malott said the injury would not be a long-term thing.
"It's just precautionary. I think (our trainer is) taking good care of me," Malott said.
"It would've been nice to finish it up, but we had everyone playing well, it was a good team effort. Five goals is a good game for us, and Gilly (goalie Mitch Gillam) held us down in the net, so it was a pretty solid game for everyone."
The deflections were particularly nice to see.
"Oh yeah — that's what we watched from him in junior hockey, he's great tracking rebounds down, he has great hand-eye coordination," Schafer said.
Said Malott, "Coach has been emphasizing tips all week, and D-men getting the pucks down to the net. But it was Benny (assistant coach Ben Syer) who came down to me just yesterday — I work with (defenseman) Alec McRae on tips in practice sometimes, and Benny said, 'Don't move from the front of the net, just plant yourself there and good things will happen,' and it worked tonight."
Deflections were not typically a thing for Moulson, who was, and is, known more for his quick release and good wrist shot that he snipes from the slot. But there's still plenty to look up to.
"I always kind of looked up to Moulson as a player and learn what I could from his game," Malott said. "He's a pretty well-known Cornell alum, and it's good to be up there with him."
Malott's night was part of a team effort, as Cornell improved to 10-4-1 with a big game against Quinnipiac looming Saturday. Winners of eight of nine, the Big Red still need to get some wins against "quality" opponents, as defined by the Pairwise criteria.
"I thought we were better in the Florida Classic for the first time (in a while)," Schafer said about trying to keep the team sharp over the holiday break. "And we had a good week of practice but we didn't play very well at Merrimack at all (a 1-0 win last week). And it was frustrating. So I thought the first period (against Princeton) we played really well. They've got a good team and they're good in transition, they can make plays. I thought our guys were really good on the details tonight with sticks down on the ice and deflecting pucks, and picking up and having awareness."
The win was the 400th of Schafer's career, all at Cornell, now his 22nd season as head coach at his alma mater.