October 24, 2003

M. Hockey Plays Exhibition Against U.S. Under-18 Team

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Tomorrow night, the No. 11 men’s hockey team will begin its season — well, sort of. For almost two weeks, the icers have been hitting one another in practice. The only game action they’ve seen has been limited to the Red-White Scrimmage last Saturday. That will all change tomorrow night when Cornell takes on the U.S. Under-18 team in an exhibition.

“I’m looking forward to finally getting to play a real game and hitting some unfamiliar faces,” senior forward Greg Hornby said. “You get a little sick and tired of banging into your own teammates in practice.”

“We’ve been at each other’s throats for the last two weeks, hitting each other, and we’re kind of tired of that,” junior defenseman Jeremy Downs said.

Last weekend, during the Red-White Scrimmage, the Lynah Faithful got its first good look at a team that is trying to make a return trip to the Frozen Four. Several of Cornell’s highly-touted freshman class distinguished themselves, with rookies Mark McCutcheon, Byron Bitz, and Mitch Carefoot all lighting the lamp.

The Red used last week’s scrimmage to work off the summer rust. Tomorrow’s game will be no different.

“This is a game for us to come out and fine tune our game,” Hornby said. “This exhibition game is just a good time for us to get everything in gear.”

“We’re looking to be really solid in our systems. We’ve got a lot of new guys that are going to be the lineup this year, so we want to make them comfortable,” senior captain and forward Ryan Vesce said.

Last season, Cornell played a Canadian university, York, as a warmup for the regular season. While the Red impressively throttled their neighbors from the north by a 9-1 margin, a number of Red players were injured in the physical contest. Keeping that in mind, head coach Mike Schafer ’86 decided to avoid a Candian opponent this time around.

“They’ll be more talented and more disciplined. We’ve run into some problems with the Canadian teams in the last few years with a lack of discipline. It’s taken away from the game,” Schafer said. “Last year, Matt Moulson took a vicious knee. There was no ramification for that kid going back to Canada. It meant nothing to him to stick out his knee to hurt somebody. We’re just trying to stay away from that.”

The U.S. Under-18 team will also provide more of a challenge to the Red.

“I think they’ll challenge us defensively much more than a Canadian university team,” Schafer said. “it’ll be a better game. They push teams.”

As a result of high academic standards at Cornell, the hockey team has had a hard time recruiting players from the national team. The Red will look at this weekend as an opportunity to showcase its program and to showcase the visitors what they’re missing.

“There were some kids on that team that we were trying to recruit. A lot of those kids are making decisions in grade 11, and it’s pretty hard to get a read on them admissions-wise when they’ve only finished grade nine and grade 10,” Schafer said. “There are kids on that team that have been committed three years to go to that school.

“It’s very difficult for us in our scenario to commit to anyone off that team. There are a couple kids that we’re interested in. I think the biggest thing is the motivation in here. Some of those kids maybe looked at us and didn’t give us the proper look that they should’ve and to show them what type of program that we have here and our fans. We’re determined to show that to their team.”

Archived article by Alex Ip