The men’s hockey team takes a hiatus from home play this weekend as it travels east for some conference play. Tonight, Cornell (8-9-2, 6-5-1 ECAC) will take on Ancient Eight foe Dartmouth (11-6-2, 7-4-1) in Hanover, N.H., before heading to Cambridge, Mass., tomorrow night for the first season matchup with arguably the Red’s biggest rival, Harvard (3-15-0, 2-11-0).
Cornell has been picking up speed since its unexpected less-than-spectacular start to the season. The team went on a streak of three wins, before tying Colgate in the first of two games played in the same weekend. The Red took down the Raiders, 5-2, in the second of the two ECAC teams’ meetings last Saturday night at Lynah Rink, and is hoping to continue to channel this momentum into this weekend’s games.
“Our record is 6-1-2 over the last nine games, and so I think we’re playing pretty solid hockey and have done so for a long time,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86.
Cornell leads the overall series with Dartmouth, 72-43-2, and enters the weekend just two-points shy of Dartmouth’s fourth-place spot in the ECAC. If the Red can defeat the Green tonight, it will signify a step in the right direction toward fourth place in the standings, which represents the last guaranteed bye to the ECAC league playoffs. Lately, winning in Hanover has not been an easy task for the Red.
“In the past we’ve had trouble winning [at Dartmouth], but a lot of times I feel like it’s on ourselves. I feel like for some reason or another we usually just don’t play the way we’re supposed to play,” said senior defenseman Mike Devin.
Tomorrow night, Cornell will be playing at home, almost; Harvard’s Bright Hockey Center is oftentimes referred to as “Lynah East”, as the rink is usually filled with more Red fans than Crimson during the huge matchup between the two schools. Cornell leads in its series with Harvard, 69-58-7, and went four-for-four in defeating the Crimson last year (two games coming from the ECAC quarterfinals).
Going to Cambridge will also represent a sort of homecoming for the seniors Joe and Devin and junior defenseman Sean Whitney — all three of whom are natives of the nearby Scituate, Mass.
Looking into both games, it is expected that the first offensive line composed of senior Tyler Roeszler, sophomore Greg Miller and senior co-captain Joe Devin — formed after sophomore John Esposito went out with a concussion — will continue to provide good things for the Red as it has in the past few games. When Esposito will return to the starting lineup is still up in the air according to Schafer.
“[Esposito’s] been symptom free for some time now, but now he needs to pass a battery of tests,” Schafer said. “That’s the protocol that we have, and we hope that he does well on his testing this week because he feels great, he’s been practicing now for almost two weeks and we hope to get him back [this weekend].”
The trio ranks at the top of the roster in terms of points on the season, with Roeszler’s last four coming in his last game from Colgate. During the game, Roeszler scored three goals for a hat trick, and also picked up another assist.
When asked about what impact Roeszler’s scoring outburst would have on the team going forward, Schafer was quick to maintain that the senior’s performance was more an affirmation of all the hard work the team had been putting in over the past month.
“[Roeszler’s hat trick] is a result or a reflection [of the hard work] rather than a launching pad for us, and so I’m really happy with the progression of our hockey team over the last month. … We just can’t be satisfied with where we are now that we’ve had some success that mirrors the type of program we have,” Schafer said.
Incidentally, while Cornell takes on Dartmouth, who comes off of a 5-1 loss against Rensselaer, Harvard will face-off with Colgate. All of the weekend’s matches are set to begin at 7 p.m.
Original Author: Reena Gilani