Usually when the men’s hockey team plays Harvard, it’s enough to get the blood stirring in any Cornellian who has a pulse. But add the mystique of Lake Placid, and when the two teams meet tonight in the semifianls of the ECAC FInal Five Tournament, it should make for an unforgettable match-up.
“We don’t like them, and we always get up for them,” junior goaltender Matt Underhill said about Harvard. “That’s the team [we] want to play.
“Deep down you know it’s special to Cornell.”
“I couldn’t be more excited to play them,” added senior tri-captain Andrew McNiven. “We got such a great raivalry here.”
While tonight’s contest does offer the Red another opportunity to hand a loss to Harvard, the more important matter at hand is toting a 10th ECAC crown back to East Hill.
Originally seeded fourth in the ECAC, Cornell was bumped up to third after top-ranked Clarkson was stunned by Vermont last weekend. Consequently, the Red by-passed last night’s play-in game and moved on directly to the semis.
By not playing last night, Cornell avoids the unwanted fate of having to play three games in three nights to win the tournament, a fate that it suffered last year.
“It keeps us fresher than we would be,” Underhill commented on having to play only two games. “Two games in two nights is nothing. Three games in a row is pretty tough.”
Yesterday evening, fourth-seeded Dartmouth defeated Vermont 3-2 in the play-in game. The Green evened the score 2-2 with 13 seconds remaining in regulation, and then claimed victory in extra time. It will now challenge defending champion St. Lawrence in the other semifinal.
As for the Red, it has already seen the Crimson twice this year, winning at Harvard and drawing at home.
The Crimson’s strength lies in its attack, featuring the brothers Moore — Dominic (41 points) and Steve (31). In goal for the boys from Cambridge is Oliver Jonas, who sports a 2.99 goals against average.
According to head coach Mike Schafer ’86, the key to Cornell’s success will be perfecting its fundamentals.
“We’re going to have to focus on the things that make us a good hockey team,” he said. “The key is just not turning the puck over in the neutral zone and keeping the play very simple in the neutral zone.”
With the return of sophomore Doug Murray last weekend, the Red is fully healthy for the first time in weeks.
All four lines fulfilled their roles this [past] weekend,” Schafer said. “That gives us confidence going into this weekend.”
Cornell hasn’t won an ECAC championship since 1997, and for this year’s outgoing seniors it’s their last opportunity to do so.
“We realize this is our last chance,” McNiven said. “You’ll only feel satisfied if you go up there and win a banner.”
“We don’t need any superhuman performances by anybody,” Schafer explained. “We just need guys to put it all together and play solid. That’ll be enough to bring home our tenth championship.”
Archived article by Shiva Nagaraj