October 27, 2000

Hockey Kicks Off Exhibition Season at Home

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After more than eight months of anticipation, the Lynah Faithful will finally reap the rewards of its patience when the Cornell men’s hockey team takes the ice at 7 p.m. tomorrow night for an exhibition against the University of Waterloo in its first game of the young season.

Though it did skate in a pair of scrimmages last weekend, the Red is nonetheless anxious to get its first taste of the Lynah ambiance.

“This will be a real hockey atmosphere,” said senior forward Dan Svoboda, “and everybody will be pumped up.”

“There’s a real big difference between games and practice,” head coach Mike Schafer ’86, adding, “This game presents us an opportunity to get rid of bad practice habits.”

While Ivy League regulations prevented Cornell from even beginning practice until a couple of weeks ago, Waterloo, on the other hand, has already been in action nine times, accumulating a 4-4-1 record in the process.

“They’re much more into game format than we are,” explained senior tri-captain and defenseman Larry Pierce. “They have an advantage on us that way, but I think we’ll be a stronger and more physical team than they are.”

Further daunting for the Red is that it knows little about the brand of hockey the Canadian team will bring to Lynah.

“We haven’t paid a whole lot of attention to them,” Schafer noted. “We want to come in here and set the tone for how we want to play.”

Leading the way for Cornell will be the trio of senior captains that, in addition to Pierce, includes defenseman Danny Powell and forward Andrew McNiven. And though the Red saw its three top scorers graduate in the off-season, its sheer depth this year — it returns 21 players — should more than compensate for the losses.

With so much choice at his disposal, Schafer has the golden opportunity to mix and match his lineups tomorrow in order to fine-tune his roster.

“We want to find out about ourselves,” he said. “So we’ll use a lot of people in different situations.”

But because the Red opens its regular season next Saturday against Sacred Heart, it has precious little time to smoothen out its jagged edges.

“It’s important to see that everyone’s going to be on the same page when we start regular season games,” Powell said. “We’re going to have to get into season-form pretty quick.”

“We just want to play hard,” remarked junior forward Denis Ladouceur, continuing, “We’re playing our system, we’re forechecking, we [want to] establish a lot of hitting.”

As for Waterloo, the Warriors are anchored by Sean Fitzgerald and Mark Robson, who have already recorded 12 and 11 points respectively. But Waterloo’s weakness is evident in its defense — the Warriors are currently allowing 3.87 goals per game, which undoubtedly is music to the ears of the Red, who ranked 20th in the country last year in scoring.

And further weakening the Warriors is their taxing schedule. They cross the border tonight to play ECAC club Clarkson, make a stop in Ithaca tomorrow, and then travel back to Canada Sunday in order to play a CIAU league match against York.

But when Waterloo visits the East Hill tomorrow, Cornell will roll out the red carpet and offer the Warriors some good, old American hospitality.

Said Pierce, “I’m looking forward to playing against some Canadians.”

Archived article by Shiva Nagaraj