February 6, 2004

Icers Hit Road Seeking Wins

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They say getting away from it all can be good for you. Men’s ice hockey coach Mike Schafer ’86 and his team are hoping they’re right.

This weekend, Cornell (8-7-6, 6-5-3 ECAC) will travel northward to face Dartmouth (9-6-6, 7-3-2) and Vermont (4-18-3, 2-12-0). Cornell takes to the road after a disappointing home-and-home series against Colgate — the first time the team’s been swept by the Raiders in four seasons — in hopes of losing something else: the pressure.

“It’s always a little good to get away from a bad thing. Obviously we’ve been unfortunate to lose a couple games at home this year,” said sophomore forward Matt Moulson. “This is a chance for everyone to get out there — with no pressure on the road — to get out and play our game.”

Schafer agreed, noting that his team feels more stress at home.

“There’s no question that they feel the pressure here at Lynah, in the sense that they want to live up to the expectations,” he said. “It won’t hurt us to go on the road, and go play some road hockey where we’re disciplined, a little more patient. You don’t have to appease the crowd, rather than appease yourself by getting the win.”

But getting a win would do more than just appease the team and stop Cornell’s standings fallout, it would build confidence.

“We’re in a situation right now where every game is going to be tough until we crack what’s going on here,” Schafer said. “Home or away, makes no difference right now. We’ve got to mature, get better, and get healthier.”

Vermont finds itself in a similar situation, only recently having snapped a four-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over Union. The Cats’ top threat is junior Brady Leisenering, who with 27 points in 25 games, has been a consistent threat for Vermont. Combined with senior Jeff Miles, Leisenering has also added depth to his team’s power play unit. The two have scored 12 goals each in man-up situations.

Dartmouth has been streaky. Routed by Union, 7-0, in its last game, the Green have also surprised several with its offensive outbursts, including a 4-3 come from behind win against RPI and a 5-3 downing of St. Lawrence.

Dartmouth is also a young team, with underclassmen making up four of the team’s top five scorers. The Green is led by junior Lee Stempniak (24 points), and followed by sophomore Hugh Jessiman (23 points).

“We’ll have to come out hard at Dartmouth, because they beat us last time,” said Moulson. “We’ll have to come out, and play our game. We’ve been saying that for a lot of weeks here, and trying to get on a role, but it’s probably the last stand here.”

Cornell will have to make that “last stand” with several injured players this weekend, but according to Moulson it doesn’t change a thing.

“The game plan hasn’t changed at all,” he said “We’ve got capable guys coming in and filling in the spots.”

“We’re going to try and do what teams do to us at Lynah, and flip the cards a little bit,” Schafer added.

And despite the adversity they’ve faced, the Red teammates and coaches are looking at this weekend with high hopes.

“We’ve got to come out, and go for the road sweep this weekend, and accept nothing less. Going up there and going one for one is not what these guys’ expectations are.”

Archived article by Matt Janiga