This weekend, Cornell and Colgate fans alike will get to enjoy a weekend full of upstate New York hockey. Cornell (11-4-4, 8-1-3 ECAC) will host Colgate (12-9-3, 6-5-1) on Friday night, and then both teams will head to Hamilton, N.Y., for another face off the next night.
This upcoming weekend is highly anticipated. If the rivalry was not causing enough of a buzz, CBS sports will be televising Friday night’s game.
“Colgate had a really good start at the beginning of the year,” said freshman defenseman Joakim Ryan. “They had a couple of losses recently but [that] doesn’t mean they are not a good team or anything, so definitely if we can get two wins against them I think it would show people even more how good we really are … It’s going to be a really big weakened, big rivalry, so it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Not only would winning put the Red in good spirits, it would also help it maintain its spots on both national polls and atop the ECAC conference standings.
“We definitely want to get the four points; we want to get some breathing room at the top of the standings,” said freshman forward Joel Lowry. “And you have to beat good teams to do that. So we are looking to play well this weekend, [to] keep rolling and hopefully we can get the win at home first and then go and play a good game at Colgate as well.”
Cornell is undefeated in 2012, and has only lost twice in its past 16 games. Colgate, on the other hand, started the season on a strong note, but is winless in its past six games. The two teams have not yet met on the ice this season.
“This is a huge rivalry for [Colgate],” said head coach Mike Shafer ’86. “I know their program, they place a lot of importance on these games. For us its important obviously because of what’s at stake … It has been a slow climb for us to move up in the national rankings and a slow climb for us to get to where we are in our league. We’re really happy with that but now there are 10 games left in the year … Colgate is still kind of an unknown because we still haven’t seen them yet.”
Someone that the Red will be concentrating on is Raiders’ senior forward Austin Smith, who currently has the most goals in the nation and is tied for second place in points. Smith is usually paired with sophomore center Chris Wagner as a right winger. Cornell knows it will need to keep them in line if it wants to come away victorious this weekend.
“You have to wear them down by being physical with them, by making them play defense, by limiting them in transition and [by] making every inch of ice all over theplace difficult for them, [because] they depend on those guys,” Schafer said. “If we don’t let them score, I like our odds.”
Lowry echoed his coach’s sentiment.
“Austin Smith is leading the nation in goals, so we have to be aware when he’s on the ice,” he said. “[We have to] make sure we’re picking up sticks especially in the defensive zone, just make smart plays — we don’t want to turn the puck over when he’s on the ice because he’s dangerous in transition, and if we limit his chances I think we have a good chance at winning the game.”
Despite all of the hype over the weekend ahead, the regional rivalry and Cornell’s recent ascent to success, the Red refuses to get caught up in the fanfare and is focusing on one thing only: itself.