It does not get much bigger than this.
With four games remaining in the regular season, the Cornell men’s hockey team will travel to the North Country this weekend to face St. Lawrence and Clarkson.
St. Lawrence (14-10-4, 11-4-3 ECAC) is leading the ECAC with 25 points, followed by Clarkson (16-9-3, 11-5-2) with 24 points. Cornell (12-8-5, 10-5-3) is in third place with 23 points.
“The beautiful thing is that we have our destiny in our own hands,” sophomore forward Matt McRae said.
“We are the top three teams in the ECAC right now — this means everything,” junior Denis Ladouceur said.
Tonight, the Red will be looking for revenge against St. Lawrence, which won the earlier meeting between the two on East Hill, 6-3. The Saints, ranked 14th nationally, have a potent offense and rely on Jeremy Symington to make the saves in net. He sports a 3.09 goals against average and a .906 save percentage.
“They are a very skilled, fast and solid defensive team,” McRae said of the Saints. “I think last time we were coming off a big win and we just weren’t awake.”
The victory McRae was referring to was a 2-1 victory over the Golden Knights, a squad which is now ranked 11th in the nation. The Red also owns a 2-1 victory over Clarkson in the Syracuse Invitational.
The Golden Knights are now without the services of goaltender Shawn Grant due to knee problems. This means Mike Walsh will likely be the man in net, and he has a 1.92 goals against average and a .921 save percentage.
“We are going to have to play well because they are both solid hockey teams,” head coach Mike Schafer ’86 said.
“We need to contain them and give them lots of hits and slow them down,” Ladouceur said. “Once we take the speed away from them the scoring will go down as well.”
One key to keeping the scoring minimal will be Cornell’s goalie, junior Matt Underhill. He is second in the nation with a 1.88 goals against average, and fourth in the country with a .925 save percentage. Overall, the Red’s defense is posting the second best goals allowed per game at just 2.24.
Another blessing for the Red is the fact that it’s players are recovering from injuries.
“I think we have a lot more depth than the last time we played these two teams,” Schafer said.
Especially exciting for the Red is the fact that sophomore Shane Palahicky may be available for action, as he has been out of action for a couple of weeks. However, classmate Doug Murray will not dress for the contests according to Schafer.
Despite missing Murray, the team is confident that it can do well this weekend.
“We are capable of beating both teams, we know that,” McRae said.
“Things have been so tight for the last month everything is big, so I don’t think it is anything new for anybody,” Schafer said. “This is what guys wait for all year, this time of year. It’s why you play hockey — the long season and then it gets better and better as the season progresses.
“It is that time of year where you hope to start playing mistake-free hockey and play consistently and have everything hit at the right time, and I feel good about where our hockey team is heading right now.”
Archived article by J.V. Anderton