Team chemistry is something many players on the No. 18 Cornell men’s ice hockey team (5-1, 3-1 ECAC) emphasize week in and week out. The Red is hoping that its strong bond will lead to cohesive play against Yale (4-1-1, 2-1-1 ECAC) and Brown (1-3-1) (1-2-1 ECAC) this weekend.
“Everybody is clicking,” said junior goalie Mitch Gillam. “We eat dinner together every night. It’s like we’re a big family.”
The close-knit atmosphere around the team has translated onto the ice this season. Cornell passes the puck around very well and executes many set plays to create scoring chances. Players have found themselves in the right spots at the right time and everyone on the team is willing to sacrifice to get the job done.
“The whole team has been playing really well together,” said freshman right wing Anthony Angello. “Guys are diving to get pucks out of the zone, sliding in to block pucks head first — everyone has bought in.”
Angello stressed the importance of putting in the effort each and every day and concentrating on what each player can control.
“Finishing out every drill in practice really helps in games and you can’t take a day off,” Angello said.
That is something the Cornell coaching staff has stressed: staying focused. When asked about the No. 18 ranking, head coach Mike Schafer ’86 noted that the team does not buy into a lot of outside distractions.
“What everyone else is doing is really insignificant to what’s happening in our preparation,” Schafer said.
The Red will get a big test in New Haven this weekend since the game will have implications down the road on Cornell’s ECAC standings. Cornell is not taking the matchup lightly.
“Yale is a great team,” Gillam said. “They have a great defensive core and they really bring it to the net.”
One of the many bright spots on the Cornell team this year has been the offense. The Red is averaging nearly four goals per game, whereas last year the team averaged around only two goals. The defense has also been stout and has allowed few easy scoring chances all year.
“Getting the lead and playing with the lead creates a different mindset,” Gillam said. “I have to stay in the game, the defense is blocking a lot of shots and keeping things to the outside, whereas last year pucks were coming at me from every angle.”
Schafer added that the team’s newfound offensive success is a result of continuing good habits, like hitting the net and creating traffic in front of the goal.
“So far this team has stayed the course with playing a very simple game,” Schafer said.
Another reason Cornell has been successful offensively is the team’s depth. Starting with an explosive freshman class, most players on the team have found ways to contribute with assists and goals.
“A lot of guys are chipping in this year,” Schafer said. “The majority of the guys are already on board with points.”
Cornell will need a lot of offense this weekend to have success against Yale and Brown. The Red is looking to keep the win streak rolling and continue generating momentum.
“Hopefully, we can carry this through to Christmas break and jump right back into it afterwards,” Schafer said.