March 14, 2002

Their Side of the Coin

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Today marks the opening of the three-day long ECAC tournament in Lake Placid, N.Y. The gathering features the league’s final five teams, each of which advanced after sweeping a best-of-three quarterfinal series last weekend.

Cornell, which enters the weekend as the top seed, earned its third straight ticket to the tournament and fifth in the last sixth years by defeating Yale.

The Red, which is slated to play its semifinal game tomorrow at 7:30 p.m., will have to await the outcome of this evening’s play-in game between No. 4 Dartmouth and No. 5 RPI — the two teams that perhaps presented Cornell with its most formidable challenges in the regular campaign.

No. 2 Clarkson and No. 3 Harvard will battle in the other semifinal.

“It’s exciting with five top-rate teams. You couldn’t ask for much more,” Dartmouth’s Jamie Herrington said.

“It’s a group in which any team can knock any other team off,” Clarkson head coach Mark Morris observed.

The Green earned its bid after outlasting Colgate in an arduous affair in Hanover, N.H. The home side needed two overtimes to surpass the Raiders the first night, before using a solid third period to oust Colgate, 4-1, the following evening. Fifth-seed RPI arrives in Lake Placid after putting on an offensive clinic against Princeton, cruising to 5-3 and 6-0 wins.

Since the tournament format was revised in 1998 to include a play-in game between the two lowest-remaining seeds, the favorite has won it three out of four times.

Despite dropping three of its final four regular season matches, Dartmouth comes in as one of the leagues feistiest teams, with a knack for late-game heroics.

“I think that will give us confidence, knowing that we can battle back if we need to,” said Herrington, who scored an overtime game-winning goal against the Red.

The prospect of a rematch with Cornell appeared to excite Herrington, who cautioned that his squad was focused exclusively on the match up with the Engineers.

“We are trying to concentrate on [today]. We know that Cornell always has a great team,” he said.

RPI, the offensive standout of the bunch, brings the league’s most potent scoring tandem in Mark Cavosie and Matt Murley. The dynamic duo sits atop the ECAC scoring leaders, at first and second place, respectively, combining for an eyebrow-raising 90 points. RPI will look to exploit this advantage by forcing a transition game.

Murley and company would surely love the opportunity to face Cornell again. RPI dropped a controversial 2-1 decision in the final weekend of the regular season during which it had two goals disallowed.

Following the game, Murley stated that the Engineers would defeat the Red at Lake Placid if the teams were to meet.

The Crimson and Golden Knights will face each other on the other side of the bracket. Harvard swept Brown while Clarkson showcased its finest hockey of the year last weekend by sweeping archrival St. Lawrence. “We are definitely a hungrier team,” Morris said.

Speculating on the prospect of a Cornell-Clarkson final, Morris said, “It’s been a real tight bunch from the start of the year, but it was clear who No. 1 was. Cornell is a great team, but they are beatable.”

Archived article by Gary Schueller