The men’s hockey team will look to maintain sole possession of first place in the ECAC, as it heads to Brown (10-10-2, 8-7-1 ECAC) and Harvard (15-7-1, 13-3-0) this weekend. The Red (19-4-0, 14-2-0) currently holds a two-point advantage on the second-place Crimson and is ranked third in the USCHO national poll.
Cornell is coming off one of its most impressive weekends of the entire season, dismantling Dartmouth last Friday 6-1 and beating up on Vermont 8-1 the following night.
Freshman forward Matt Moulson was the hero for the Red, pitching in the team’s first hat-trick in five years against the Green. Moulson, who also had an assist in that game and another goal and assist against UVM, earned ECAC Rookie of the Week and USCHO National Player of the Week honors for his performance.
Tonight, the Red will be in Providence for a 7 p.m. showdown against the Bears, who are tied for fifth in the ECAC with 17 points. Brown is 1-4 in its last five games but remains one of the most dangerous teams in the conference.
“The goal is to win two hockey games and that starts with the first game [tonight] against Brown, a team that’s playing pretty well right now,” said Cornell coach Mike Schafer ’86.
Brown’s defense is currently ranked fourth in the conference with a 2.50 goals per game average, while its team defense is seventh at 2.88. Leading the Bears in scoring are Les Haggett and Brent Robinson, who each have 18 points in 16 ECAC contests.
While Cornell and Brown have not traditionally been rivals, this year’s first match-up on Nov. 23 at Lynah Rink suggested a much different sentiment.
In a physical game which saw the Red shut the Bears out 5-0, Brown picked up 14 penalties for 50 minutes. Cornell senior Matt McRae caught the brunt of Brown’s frustration when he received a high stick to the throat from Paul Crosty. The normally mild-mannered McRae reacted by shoving Crosty and a team melee nearly broke out. The game’s final ten minutes were so physically tense, that the refs ushered the Bears off the ice before the traditional shaking of hands after the game.
Tomorrow night’s game against Harvard will also carry major emotional and statistical importance for the Red. While the Red and Crimson have always had a well publicized rivalry on the ice, the game will also play a major role in the final outcome of the ECAC standings.
The Red’s 5-2 victory earlier this season was one of the most important turning points in its season. Five players scored in the pivotal victory and Cornell has only lost one league game since.
The Crimson is led by center Dominic Moore who has 10 goals in 16 conference games. Moore is one of the most dangerous offensive players in the conference and has presented the Red with problems in the past.
“He’s a very good centerman and he wins a lot of draws and definitely is one of the toughest guys I’ve faced off against in our league,” said junior Ryan Vesce, “so it will definitely be a challenge.”
Goalie Dov Grumet-Morris is also hot on LeNeveu’s heels with a .925 save percentage and 2.22 GAA in ECAC play.
Not only will the conference’s top spot be on the line tomorrow night, but so too will be a step towards earning a pivotal first round bye in the ECAC playoffs. The Red has already clinched home-ice advantage but can make a major move towards the latter aim with a victory at Cambridge.
“The first round bye is really big, if you do have injuries it one: gives you a chance to rest and it also gives you a chance to avoid injuries,” said Schafer. “The games that are going to go on the previous weekends are going to be wars and battles.”
While the Red may be counting on the comfort of Lynah Rink for the success of its playoff run, it will have to learn to win big games on the road to have success at the next level. This weekend will provide an excellent opportunity for just such a learning process to occur.
“This is obviously a huge weekend for us,” finished senior captain Stephen B