Rangers prospect Hank Kempf helps Cornell to Ivy League Title

Hank Kempf
Hank Kempf warming up for Cornell (photo by: Alan Selavka)

2021 New York Rangers 7th Round Pick (208th Overall) Hank Kempf was in the lineup for the Cornell Big Red as they visited Yale at Ingalls Rink in New Haven, CT on Saturday, February 25th to conclude the ECAC (and Ivy League) regular season. 

Despite being the visiting team, Cornell enjoyed a home atmosphere as fans in attendance were overwhelmingly wearing more red than blue. Cornell also chartered a second bus to bring in their entire pep band, outnumbering the Yale student section.

The travelling band proceeded to make their presence known by holding up newspapers during the announcement of the starting lineup for the home team while shouting “Boring” after each name. A loud “RED” also roared from the visitor’s side during the national anthem, and chants of “Go Big Red”, “Let’s Go Red”, and various heckles after each goal scored against Yale could be heard throughout the game. 

Rangers prospect Hank Kempf

Rangers prospect defenseman Hank Kempf slotted in on the left side of the listed third pair with partner Sebastian Dirven. The two had their first shift of the game with 18:39 on the board, starting in the offensive zone off a faceoff. After the puck went down the opposite end, Kempf retrieved the puck behind, and made an outlet pass to the left wing up the boards to start a breakout before coming off for a change at 17:56. The sophomore defenseman hopped back over the boards at the 16:10 mark, and was forced to stay out following an icing at 15:33. He gained possession around 15:24 and again initiated a breakout pass to a winger, before a turnover led to goaltend Ian Shane covering the puck at 14:54 to end his shift. WIth 13:30 on the clock, the Rangers prospect was back on the ice. An odd man rush by the Bulldogs was stopped by Ian Shane at 13:07, and Kempf headed back to the bench. He came back for his next shift at 10:30, and had a pinch in the offensive zone before coming off following a dump and change at 9:24. 

The first penalties of the game occurred with 8:56 to play when Connor Sullivan of Yale was called for holding, while Max Andreev of Cornell was given an embellishment. Kieran O’Hearn of the Bulldogs was charged with tripping with 7:27 to go ,but Cornell was unable to score during the 4 on 3 or shortened power play time. 

Winter Wallace scored the first goal of the game after the penalty expired on assists from Nick DeSantis and Ondrej Psenicka. Hank Kempf came out for the ensuing faceoff, and subsequently came off after a Shane cover at 4:56. On his next shift, Kempf’s shot attempt was blocked with 3:06 to play, and he was involved in a tie up along the boards with 2:30 to go prior to coming off with 2:14 remaining when Yale goalie Connor Hopkins covered the puck. When Kempf came back to the bench, he was talked to at length by Associate Head Coach Ben Syer. Hank was sent back for his final shift of the period with 43 seconds remaining, and collected the puck along the left boards, but nothing came of the Big Red attack. The period ended 1-0 Cornell who led in shots 14-6. 

Kempf helping Cornell to a title

Hank Kempf
Cornell’s Hank Kempf warming up before the game (Photo: Alan Selavka)

Kempf saw his first shift of the second period begin with an offensive zone faceoff with 18:44 on the scoreboard, and came off over a minute later with 17:41 to play. Soon after, Kyle Penney added the second goal for Cornell with 17:24 remaining on an unassisted shot which evaded traffic.

“I walked off the wall and let it rip with my backhand,” Penney said. “Luckily it went in.”

Kempf was on the ice for Cornell’s third goal, scored by Jack O’Leary, with the assists credited to Kyle Penney and Kyler Kovich at 14:32. While he went out for a defensive zone draw with 11:51 to play, Cornell was assessed a minor for a faceoff violation, and Hank Kempf headed back to the bench while the Big Red successfully killed the penalty, served by Winter Wallace. 

Cole Donhauser of the Bulldogs was called for hooking with 5:23 on the board, but Cornell failed to convert with the man advantage. Ultimately, the second period ended with the score 3-0 Cornell, who led in shots on goal 21-13 at intermission. 

Nick DeSantis increased the lead for the visitors to four with 16:10 to play off assists from Travis Mitchell and Ben Berard. Not long after, Sam Milinski of Cornell and Cole Donhauser of Yale were given coincidental minors for slashing with 15:56 left, though neither side found the back of the net when play for 4 on 4. Hank Kempf had a turnover in the eight minute of the final frame which led to Yale’s only goal scored by Cole Donhauser at 11:52. This brought Kempf’s (+/-) back to even on the night. 

Ben Berard would add an insurance goal for Cornell at 6:13 following a 2 on 1 sequence, with assists going to Jack O’Leary and Kyle Penney. More 4 on 4 action occurred when Nick DeSantis of Cornell was called for roughing, while Henry Wagner of Yale was given a minor for cross checking at the 5:20 mark. 

With just under three minutes in the game, Hank Kempf won a battle along the boards in the defensive zone, before goaltender Ian Shane covered at 2:28. Cornell won the ensuing faceoff, and Kempf made several passes to his partner Sebastian Dirven before the pair changed with 1:25 remaining. Michael Suda was called for interference sixteen seconds later, and Yale went to the powerplay. Kempf saw time on the penalty kill. He finished the game without any points, shots on goal, penalties, and was even (+/-) after being on the ice for one goal for, and one goal against.  

The final score was 5-1 Cornell, with shots on goal 29-22 in favor of the Big Red. With the win, Cornell finished third in the ECAC conference behind Cleary Cup winners Quinnipiac University, and Harvard. Despite finishing behind Harvard in conference play, the win gave Cornell the 2022-2023 Ivy League title, their 25th in school history. Cornell is off until March 10th, when the team will host the first game of the best-of-three quarterfinal round of the ECAC Hockey Championship. 

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