The men’s hockey team has a lot of expectations to fill coming into 2002-03. Aspirations of ECAC titles and Frozen Four appearances loom large in Lynah Rink. The team (0-0, 0-0 ECAC) has little time to return to midseason form when it opens its season at Ohio State tonight.
No. 8 Cornell had little trouble dismantling York University, 9-1, Sunday at Lynah. But the Buckeyes (3-1-1, 1-0-1 CCHA) will provide a much greater challenge for the Red.
After losing to Minnesota in the Hall of Fame game on Oct. 12, OSU has been unbeaten in its last 4 games. It tied and beat fellow CCHA team Alaska-Fairbanks and swept ECAC member Clarkson 4-2, 4-3 last weekend in Columbus. The Buckeyes’ offensive numbers have improved from last year, but the big advantage it holds over the Red is in game experience. Ohio State opened its regular season before Cornell even officially began practicing.
“Obviously it’s a big challenge but we’re looking forward to it,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86 of the disparity in game experience. “They know Ohio State’s got a great team. I just told our guys, ‘Stay in the present where we get back into a real dogfight for a game. And learn more about ourselves — what makes us good and what we need to work on.”
Although Cornell dominated York, flexing its goal-scoring muscles, there is some rust left over from the offseason with some defensive miscues and icers caught looking down. Even if those errors have been corrected in practice, Schafer believed that improvement wouldn’t be obvious until game time.
“Playing in a game gets rid of a lot bad habits that occur in summer hockey and early preseason hockey. Hopefully we’ve learned some lessons through that,” he said.
Tonight’s game is the only preparation for the Red before it dives headfirst into the thick of the ECAC race against Yale on Nov. 8.
“We’re ready to go, we’ve been waiting a long time for this, practice has been going real well. We’re real ready for Ohio State,” senior co-captain Stephen B