March 7, 2013

M. ICE HOCKEY | Icers to Open ECAC Playoffs

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An up-and-down season will take another dramatic turn this weekend as the Red takes the ice for a do-or-die series to kick off the conference playoffs.  To open the ECAC Hockey Championship tournament, the ninth-seeded Red icers (12-4-3, 8-11-3) will head to Princeton to play the eighth-seeded Tigers (10-14-5, 8-10-4) in a best-of-three series. The winner will advance to the tournament’s second round. Cornell will battle the Tigers on Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 7 p.m. The teams will square off again on Sunday at the same time, if necessary.“[I]t’s exciting,” sophomore forward Joel Lowry said. “Win or go home, so the guys are definitely ready. … I think we’ve played a lot better in series where we were focusing just on one opponent so I think that will help. … [T]he boys are ready to go and excited for the weekend.”According to senior forward and tri-captain Erik Axell, although finally ending the long regular season losing streak helped the team’s mentality, the Red will have to adopt a fresh approach heading into playoffs.“I think we’re in a good spot right now,” he said. “That was a tough stretch there — those seven [consecutive losses in January and February] — but we really learned a lot from it, and we came out mentally stronger after. We’ve had a little bit of success in the last few [games], but it’s a whole new season now. The real season starts now. Everybody’s excited and we’re just … trying to go on a bit of a run here.”Following the frustrating seven-game losing skid, the Red has returned to early season form while boasting a 4-1-1 record in the past six games. Head coach Mike Schafer ’86 said he is pleased with the team’s progress.“We went 2-1-1 on the road; we went 2-0 at home,” Schafer said. “I thought we played better. I thought we played more disciplined. I thought we did a lot of good things in those [final games]. Over those six games [there was only one] period where we played poorly.”The Red is hoping that a third meeting with the Tigers this season will not end in similar fashion to its previous two games with the Tigers. In November, Princeton emerged with a 5-3 victory at Hobey Baker rink, then thwarted Cornell at Lynah in February with a 1-0 shutout. One of the biggest challenges for the Red will be shutting down Princeton junior forward Andrew Calof, who finished third in the ECAC with 36 points this season.“When you look at [Calof], he’s probably one of the most crafty players,” Schafer said. “When he’s on the ice, you have to be aware … not just of him, but you’ve got to be aware of other people. You wish more guys would make the simple plays. He’s got his head up all the time, and he moves the puck to people who are open. He doesn’t try to force things. … We’ve got to control him.”Lowry added that the Red’s deep bench should help the team in the match-up with Calof and the Tigers.  “I mean, Calof is obviously a good player,” he said. “They have some good players on the back end too, and you just want to hit them as much as you can and wear them down. I really think a team like us [that] rolls four lines and can play physical [has] an advantage, and definitely in a playoff series where you’re trying to wear the other team down.”Even if the Red is able to contain the Tiger offense, the team will need to bring physicality and a high energy level this weekend.  “I think we just need to outcompete them,” Lowry said. “[Princeton’s] always been a team that competes really hard, and that’s the strength of their team, so if we out-compete them, I think we have a really good chance to win.”Despite the challenges of facing Princeton in the first round, one factor that the team is not worried about is playing on the road.“We’ve played in all kinds of environments across the country, [including] Denver and Madison Square Garden, so the atmosphere is not going to intimidate us,” Schafer said. “With the size of our hockey team and the experience at venues they play in through the course of the year, we’re built to go on the road [and] we’re built for playoff hockey.”Lowry added that road trips are beneficial to team bonding before big games.“I think [going on the road] also helps brings the guys together,” he noted. “You spend a lot more time with your teammates than you do when you’re at home, and we’re all busy with school … I definitely think it gets rid of distractions and we can An up-and-down season will take another dramatic turn this weekend as the Red takes the ice for a do-or-die series to kick off the conference playoffs.  To open the ECAC Hockey Championship tournament, the ninth-seeded Red icers (12-4-3, 8-11-3) will head to Princeton to play the eighth-seeded Tigers (10-14-5, 8-10-4) in a best-of-three series. The winner will advance to the tournament’s second round. Cornell will battle the Tigers on Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 7 p.m. The teams will square off again on Sunday at the same time, if necessary.“[I]t’s exciting,” sophomore forward Joel Lowry said. “Win or go home, so the guys are definitely ready. … I think we’ve played a lot better in series where we were focusing just on one opponent so I think that will help. … [T]he boys are ready to go and excited for the weekend.”According to senior forward and tri-captain Erik Axell, although finally ending the long regular season losing streak helped the team’s mentality, the Red will have to adopt a fresh approach heading into playoffs.“I think we’re in a good spot right now,” he said. “That was a tough stretch there — those seven [consecutive losses in January and February] — but we really learned a lot from it, and we came out mentally stronger after. We’ve had a little bit of success in the last few [games], but it’s a whole new season now. The real season starts now. Everybody’s excited and we’re just … trying to go on a bit of a run here.”Following the frustrating seven-game losing skid, the Red has returned to early season form while boasting a 4-1-1 record in the past six games. Head coach Mike Schafer ’86 said he is pleased with the team’s progress.“We went 2-1-1 on the road; we went 2-0 at home,” Schafer said. “I thought we played better. I thought we played more disciplined. I thought we did a lot of good things in those [final games]. Over those six games [there was only one] period where we played poorly.”The Red is hoping that a third meeting with the Tigers this season will not end in similar fashion to its previous two games with the Tigers. In November, Princeton emerged with a 5-3 victory at Hobey Baker rink, then thwarted Cornell at Lynah in February with a 1-0 shutout. One of the biggest challenges for the Red will be shutting down Princeton junior forward Andrew Calof, who finished third in the ECAC with 36 points this season.“When you look at [Calof], he’s probably one of the most crafty players,” Schafer said. “When he’s on the ice, you have to be aware … not just of him, but you’ve got to be aware of other people. You wish more guys would make the simple plays. He’s got his head up all the time, and he moves the puck to people who are open. He doesn’t try to force things. … We’ve got to control him.”Lowry added that the Red’s deep bench should help the team in the match-up with Calof and the Tigers.  “I mean, Calof is obviously a good player,” he said. “They have some good players on the back end too, and you just want to hit them as much as you can and wear them down. I really think a team like us [that] rolls four lines and can play physical [has] an advantage, and definitely in a playoff series where you’re trying to wear the other team down.”Even if the Red

is able to contain the Tiger offense, the team will need to bring physicality and a high energy level this weekend.  “I think we just need to outcompete them,” Lowry said. “[Princeton’s] always been a team that competes really hard, and that’s the strength of their team, so if we out-compete them, I think we have a really good chance to win.”Despite the challenges of facing Princeton in the first round, one factor that the team is not worried about is playing on the road.“We’ve played in all kinds of environments across the country, [including] Denver and Madison Square Garden, so the atmosphere is not going to intimidate us,” Schafer said. “With the size of our hockey team and the experience at venues they play in through the course of the year, we’re built to go on the road [and] we’re built for playoff hockey.”Lowry added that road trips are beneficial to team bonding before big games.“I think [going on the road] also helps brings the guys together,” he noted. “You spend a lot more time with your teammates than you do when you’re at home, and we’re all busy with school … I definitely think it gets rid of distractions and we can just focus on playing once we get down to Princeton.”After a season of ups and downs, including primetime victories and frustrating defeats, the seniors are looking to add to their Cornell legacy and help determine the fate of the 2012-2013 season by giving everything they have got this weekend.“Losing sucks,” Axell said. “Specifically being a senior, I don’t want these to be the last two games here, so I’m not ready for the season to end. You have to play desperate now — it’s desperate hockey. [We’re g]oing out there and laying it all on the line. You’re playing to win a championship — that’s why we’re here.” focus on playing once we get down to Princeton.”After a season of ups and downs, including primetime victories and frustrating defeats, the seniors are looking to add to their Cornell legacy and help determine the fate of the 2012-2013 season by giving everything they have got this weekend.“Losing sucks,” Axell said. “Specifically being a senior, I don’t want these to be the last two games here, so I’m not ready for the season to end. You have to play desperate now — it’s desperate hockey. [We’re g]oing out there and laying it all on the line. You’re playing to win a championship — that’s why we’re here.”

Original Author: Chris Mills

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