March 2, 2001

M. Hockey Hosts RPI, Union

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For the fifth straight weekend, this is the most important weekend of the year for the Cornell men’s hockey team.

Now out of the race for one of the top two spots in the ECAC, the Red must try to stay in the third position in the league and win home ice for the first round of the ECAC playoffs. To do so it will have to contend with Rensselaer and Union in Lynah Rink.

“We want to get into that number-three spot. Obviously we have been there for the second half of the season and we want to claim that spot,” head coach Schafer ’86 said. “We know the difference from being a fourth seed and being third seed from last year. It is a huge difference.”

Presently, Cornell (12-10-5, 10-7-3 ECAC) is tied for third with Harvard on 23 points in the league, followed by Dartmouth with 22 points. Rensselaer and Yale, which are still trying to get into the top five of the league and earn home ice for the playoffs, both have 20 points.

Despite posting a 1-4-1 record in their last six games, Schafer and the Red are confident heading into this weekend.

“I like what our hockey team is doing, and being at home will give us an extra boost of confidence,” Schafer said.

Another factor for the Red is that this weekend features the seniors’ last regular season games in Lynah. The graduating group will be honored after the Union game tomorrow night.

Despite the emotion of the weekend, senior Dan Svoboda feels that he and his classmates must keep their minds focused on the task at hand.

“We need third place and in order to do that we need four points. We can’t allow emotions to interfere that,” he said.

If the Red is to do well this weekend, it will have to find a way to score. The squad only managed a meager two goals in last weekend’s losses to league-leading St. Lawrence and second-place Clarkson.

“I’ve told our guys all you can do is try to continue to generate the scoring chances. If you start squeezing the stick and try to pick corners than it is just going to backfire on you,” Schafer said. “One of the things we want to do is score the hard-working goals. If we are not going to bury our chances then we have to get more traffic in front of the goaltender and get the rebounds and tip goals that don’t take a lot of concentration. They just take work ethic.

“I think how we are playing is critical, and the goals will come. If they don’t you are not successful, and if you do you are successful.”

Svoboda felt that if the team can get shots it will be successful.

“You just need to shoot the puck. It will come sooner or later,” he said.

However, the Red’s defense will also be vital to success this weekend. Junior Matt Underhill is third in the nation with a 1.95 goals against average, and seventh in the nation with a .923 save percentage.

Tonight against Rensselaer, Cornell will look to contain Matt Murley and Marc Cavosie, who have 37 and 27 points on the season, respectively.

Against the Skating Dutchmen, Jeff Wilson and Kris Goodjohn are the main threats to the Red. Willson has 21 points on 11 goals, while Goodjohn has 19 points with seven goals. Brandon Snee is strong in net for Union, with a 3.03 goals against average and a .900 save percentage.

But it all boils down to a simple truth:

“We need these four points like no other. The old cliche that this game is the biggest game of the year and this weekend is the biggest weekend of the year, that is true right now,” senior tri-captain Andrew McNiven said.

Archived article by J.V. Anderton