aAfter struggling through the heart of its conference schedule with a 1-5-1 record, the men’s hockey team has heated up down the stretch, winning its last four games. With 23 points heading into the weekend, the Red (12-7-6, 10-5-3 ECAC) sits in third place, just one-point behind second-place Colgate and three points from ECAC-leading Brown. Cornell will have its work cut out for it this weekend, though, as it heads to the capital-city region to face RPI (17-11-2, 11-6-1 ECAC) in Troy tonight and Union in Schenectady tomorrow evening.
Tonight’s game against RPI is especially important, as the Red and the Engineers come into the matchup tied in the standings. Rensselaer has been one of the hottest teams in the country, winning nine of its previous 12 games including a 2-0 shutout win over Cornell on Jan. 17. Goaltender Nathan Marsters stopped 22 shots in the win, while the defense in front of him blocked 16 others and killed seven Cornell power play opportunities.
The previous meeting, which came in the midst of Cornell’s midseason struggles was significant for another reason. After the Red’s 2-0 loss, Cornell head coach Mike Schafer heavily criticized the ECAC officiating, subsequently drawing a one-game suspension from the league offices. The game, which was extremely physical, saw Cornell sophomore forward Shane Hynes dislocate his shoulder.
After suffering through an abysmal junior season, Marsters has been one of the nation’s top netminders in 2003-04, registering a 2.15 GAA while winning 16 of his 26 starts. His stats have been even better during the conference season, as he’s posted a 1.93 GAA and a .929 save percentage.
On the offensive end, a pair of sophomores lead the Engineers, with Kevin Croxton and Kirk McDonald each having scored 13 goals. Croxton has added 18 assists for 31 points on the year, while McDonald has 14 helpers.
Despite residing in the lower portion of the ECAC standings, Union (11-14-5, 5-10-3) also looks to be a stern test for the Red tomorrow night. The Dutchmen tied the Red 1-1 in the teams’ first meeting of the season at Lynah Rink. Since then, Union has gone 4-3-1, including a tie at Brown and a loss at Harvard last weekend.
The Dutchmen are backstopped by sophomore goalie Kris Mayotte, who has been consistent between the pipes. The ECAC’s top freshman goaltender last year, Mayotte has posted a 2.75 GAA and .905 save percentage. Like Marsters, he has been even stronger in conference action, allowing just 2.43 goals each time out.
The problem for the Dutchmen hasn’t been stopping the puck, though, it’s been putting it in the net. Union has averaged a paltry 2.06 goals per game. with Jordan Webb and Joel Beal leading the way with 23 and 22 points, respectively.
This will be Cornell’s last road trip of the season, with the Red ending its regular season next weekend at home against St. Lawrence and Clarkson.
Archived article by Alex Ip