Hockey players practice countless hours to hone the skills needed to succeed on the ice, but often the best at the sport have a gift that drives that success.

Cornell sophomore Mitch Vanderlaan has been putting a combination of the two on display so far this season, as he leads the Big Red in goal scoring and point production. On Saturday evening, Vanderlaan put his magic to work once again after his teammates came back from a two-goal deficit to knot the score at two with Princeton.

With time winding down in the closing stanza, Vanderlaan potted a pair of markers four minutes apart to break the Big Red free from the Tigers and take the 4-2 decision. The goal that turned out to be the game-winner came with a little under six and a half minutes to play and went in off of an odd carom, and continued what Vanderlaan thinks has been a streak of fortuitous bounces to begin the season.

“Honestly, a lot of it has been puck luck,” said Vanderlaan when asked about his goal-scoring prowess. “Tonight, one went off my leg and the guy gave me a breakaway on the other.”

His seventh of the year and the game’s closing tally came when a Tigers defensive zone turnover went straight to the waiting blade of Vanderlaan, who deposited a shot top shelf past Princeton netminder Colton Phinney.

The sophomore’s contributions went past just the score sheet though, as his infusion of energy to begin the second period helped the Big Red come back from a two-goal hole after the game’s first 20 minutes. Although he didn’t contribute with any points in that second frame, coach Mike Schafer thought the jump that he provided is what helped propel his team to a victory.

“I thought he was a workhorse and got his feet moving and all the guys fed off of him,” said Schafer. “I thought Mitch was a big time leader.”

ECAC roundup

Clarkson 3, Yale 3
The visiting Bulldogs erased a two-goal deficit in the third period on goals from Ted Hart and John Hayden after two power-play goals from the Golden Knights in the second period put them in a hole.

Quinnipiac 7, Colgate 3
Quinnipiac completed a perfect road weekend in upstate New York by crushing the Raiders on the strength of two-goal efforts from Tim Clifton and Tommy Schutt.

No. 20 St. Lawrence 7, Brown 2
Mike Marnell lit the lamp four times as the Saints rode a three-goal opening period to a blowout victory over the visiting Bears.

No. 14 Ohio State 3, RPI 2
The Engineers fought back twice to even up the score, but Tanner Laczynski’s third-period marker turned out to be the game-winner as the Buckeyes claimed a nonconference road triumph.