November 27, 2002

Red Rekindles Rivalry, Hosts B.U.

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While last weekend’s Harvard-Brown weekend may be the most anticipated home weekend of the men’s hockey season, the upcoming two-game series against Boston University (7-3-2, 4-3-0 HEA) on Saturday and Sunday, may be the most important the team has had thus far.

While Cornell (6-1-0, 5-1-0 ECAC) has garnered respect around the nation, much of it from last season’s run in the NCAAs, it still has to prove itself in its out-of-conference record. Of the seven games the Red has played, six of them were in conference. The only nonconference game was its 3-1 win against Ohio St. in its season opener.

“Getting wins against Harvard and Brown are nice just because they’re in the top 15. But the ECAC always has a bad rep around the nation as the E-Z AC,” senior forward Sam Paolini said. “It’s not as hard as some of the other conferences, so we really want to prove to the nation and gain some more respect, that we can play with top teams in other divisions as well, and beating B.U. would be a good sign of us being a top team.”

And last year’s split with the Terriers catapulted the Red into national prominence, where it stayed through the end of the year. However, the team’s expectations have risen with its improvements and its home-ice advantage this weekend.

As of last night, several of the hockey players were planning on watching yesterday’s Harvard-B.U. game, which the Terriers won 3-0. It was goalie Sean Fields’ first shutout of the season.

Sophomore goaltender David LeNeveu already leads D-I with three shutouts on the season from games against Princeton, Vermont, and Brown. He is second with his 1.14 GAA, and was named the ECAC Goaltender of the Week this week.

Cornell comes into the weekend ranked No. 7, B.U. stands at No. 11 after losing to Maine, 7-3, and beating U-Mass, Lowell 4-3. The Red is also ranked higher nationally in offense, defense, goaltending, power play and special teams. Adding to that is the Red’s undefeated record at home, outscoring opponents 19-3 at Lynah.

“Last year when we split it was good for us just because we were a team that no one really knew about but I think now we’re a team that people are getting to know a little better,” Paolini said, adding, “I think if we get anything less than four points this weekend, we’ll be disappointed.”

The Terriers were expected to do well in the HEA this season, led by a talented sophomore class. Defenseman Ryan Whitney, who was the top-drafted college player last year and Justin Maiser, who leads B.U. in scoring with five goals and six assists, have matured with a year of collegiate hockey under their belts. On paper, Boston University gives the Red the biggest challenge it has had all season

“They’ll be ready to play this weekend, there’s no question in our minds. We’re prepared to play the B.U. team that we know is a top 10 team in the country,” head coach Mike Schafer ’86 said.

After last weekend’s pair of games that left two defensemen, sophomore Charlie Cook and senior Travis Bell, out of Saturday’s Brown game, Schafer expects to have the complete lineup at his disposal.

This weekend’s games begin a six-game stretch of nonconference games that continues with a pair at Western Michigan and the Everblades Tournament in Estero, Fla.

“We need to play well, and we need to prove ourselves,” Schafer said. “If you’re ranked in the top 10 you need to win your nonconference games to continue to get respect.”

Archived article by Amanda Angel