November 7, 2003

M. Icers Visit Bulldogs, Tigers

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One week ago, the men’s hockey team opened its season at home with high hopes and lofty expectations for a return trip deep into the NCAA tournament. But, after failing to win a game against Western Michigan, the No. 15 Red was forced to go back to the drawing board this past week in preparation of the beginning of its conference schedule, which begins tonight in New Haven, Conn.

Though the Red has gotten off to a slow start, the team is confident that it will be able to put last weekend’s struggles behind it and post the season’s first win.

“It’s a very difficult road trip, but I think the road will be very good for us now to go on and play what I call road hockey. It’s a little more defensive-minded and pay a little more attention to detail,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86.

Cornell will face another pair of stern challenges this weekend, as it matches up against ECAC rivals Yale and Princeton.

The Elis play host to the Red tonight in Ingalls Rink. Last weekend, Yale opened its season by dropping a pair of games to North Dakota by a combined score of 18-4. The Bulldogs will also be without the services of last year’s ECAC Co-Player of the Year Chris Higgins, who signed with the Montreal Canadiens over the summer.

Schafer, however, believes Yale will still be a formidable opponent.

“Yale’s going to come out very fired up after being embarrassed at North Dakota,” he said. “They always play well at home and I’m sure Coach [Tim] Taylor will have his team ready to play.”

Yale returns last season’s second leading scorer, forward Ryan Steeves. Steeves tallied 38 points last year on 15 goals and 23 assists. In addition, forward Vin Hellemeyer and defenseman Jeff Dwyer also return.

Last season, the Red had little trouble with the Bulldogs, winning by scores of 6-2 and 3-0.

Tomorrow night, Cornell will visit Princeton at Hobey Baker Rink. The Tigers have suffered through several very difficult seasons in recent years. Last season, Princeton compiled a record of 3-26-2, including only two conference wins. Last weekend, the Tigers dropped both games of a season-opening series at St. Cloud State, 2-1 and 3-1.

However, as much as the Tigers have struggled in the past, the Red will view tomorrow’s game just as any other.

“We’re going after them the same way we go after every team,” said senior captain Ryan Vesce, who scored two goals against the Tigers in last November’s 3-0 win at Lynah Rink. “Every game is important. You play so little games, it’s definitely important to get off to a good start.”

The last time the two teams met in Princeton, the Red won, 2-1, to clinch its second consecutive ECAC regular season title.

For the Red, there are still some questions to be answered after last weekend. A starting goalie for this weekend has not yet been named. Freshman David McKee played both games last weekend after senior Todd Marr was unable to practice all of last week.

In addition, the Red continues to work out some inconsistencies with its power play, which also struggled a bit last week, largely due to inexperience as a unit, Schafer said.

Cornell will hope to use this weekend to continue to build and develop as a team.

“We generated a whole lot of chances. I’d be really concerned if we didn’t generate any offense. If we were very bad in our own zone as far as losing the check, I’d be really concerned, but I’m not right now. It’s just a matter of getting more playing experience with guys,” said Schafer. “Playing and continuing to play shows you where your strengths are and where your weaknesses are.”

Archived article by Owen Bochner