January 25, 2002

Heading Into North Country

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Cornell will continue its tour of the Empire State, wrapping up four games in two weekends against in-state rivals when it travels to the North Country to face Clarkson and St. Lawrence. The Red is coming off a two-game sweep of floundering Colgate. It was the first four-point weekend for the icers since RPI and Union were swept away from Lynah in early November.

Tonight’s clash with the gritty Clarkson Golden Knights will be a showdown between two ECAC studs with Cornell and the host sporting the second and third best records in the league, respectively. Harvard sits in the top spot, but has played three games more than the Red, whose sweep of Colgate was its first since 1996-1997.

Cornell will be looking to continue the potency of its power play, which contributed to five of its seven goals against the Raiders. Success against the top-flight Knights will demand that the Red find consistency in five-on-five play, an area that has hampered the team for the better part of the season.

“We need to capitalize on the five-on-five and bury it on the powerplay,” sophomore Ryan Vesce said.

Clarkson is coming off a mediocre weekend in which it skated to a 3-3 tie with Dartmouth before dropping a 2-0 decision to lowly Vermont. The Knights are a physical team that has a propensity to take its fair share of penalties. In the meeting with the Catamounts, the teams logged 17 penalties. Cornell will likely attempt to exploit this tendency to take full advantage of its man advantage unit — tops in the conference.

The game should be a low scoring affair with both Cornell and Clarkson occupying the two highest-ranked defenses in the league. The homeside has been particularly formidable in its own building, registering a 9-2 mark inside the confines of Cheel Arena.

“They are a good team. We always have tough games against Clarkson,” senior netminder Matt Underhill said.

“[Clarkson] is tough defensively. They have very good special teams,” added Vesce.

With his club still plagued by nagging injuries, head coach Mike Schafer ’86 has been experimenting with his rooster, designing variations in his lines — a luxury the depth of his squad offers.

“Guys don’t mind who they will be playing with. Whoever is playing well is going to play,” Underhill explained.

Revenge will surely be on the minds of the icers when they visit Appleton Arena on Saturday to do battle with St. Lawrence — the same team that outdueled the Red to take the ECAC crown last year.

The Saints — who have captured the title the last two years are a shell of their former self having gone 6-13-0 to start the season.

Cornell will be looking to eradicate its first period troubles. The Red has struggled early in games, scoring just 10 of its 61 goals in the opening stanza.

The Red may face an uphill battle in this regard against the always gritty Clarkson and upstart St. Lawrence. The Saints have rattled off three consecutive ECAC wins after opening with a 1-5 mark in league play.

Questioned about the revenge factor, Vesce replied: “We’re trying to sweep every weekend. We want to beat St. Lawrence but no less than Clarkson.”

Archived article by Gary Schueller