The last time Cornell and Clarkson met, it was the second to last day of the second month of 2004. Cornell earned two power play goals, and finished second in the ECAC with the win over the Golden Knights. Two weeks later, as Cornell hosts Clarkson for an ECAC quarterfinal series, one number is eerily similar: two, the number of wins Cornell needs to advance to the next round of the ECAC tournament.
“The first team to two wins is moving on,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86.
And while he may have traded his skates for a pair of black wingtips after graduating Cornell in the mid-80s, Schafer still perfectly understands the mentality of his players, especially when it comes to playoff time.
“We’ve waited a long time to get back to this environment,” Schafer said. “I think every hockey player loves the playoffs and that’s what they play for.”
Sophomore forward Matt Moulson, Cornell’s leading scorer in the regular season, agreed, noting the excitement and caution that each spring brings.
“It’s playoff time, and as a hockey player it’s the best time of the year,” Moulson said. “It’s like a new season out there, but you’ve got to take every team seriously.”
Some, like senior Greg Hornby, view the playoffs differently. For Hornby, the playoffs are a chance to step up and shine one last time.
“It’s exciting, obviously being my last home weekend,” the senior said. “I’m just going to take in every minute of it, and just try to enjoy every last second. I’m going to play my hardest and go out of Cornell on a high note.”
With the Red playing in the last three ECAC championship games, and last year’s squad reaching the Frozen Four for the first time in 23 years, experience should play a large role in just how high Hornby’s last note is.
“Everyone except for our freshmen have been in a championship game,” Hornby said. “We’ve got the experience and hopefully we can use it.”
For Moulson, the experience has already carried him far. In just one season, the sophomore has gone from being the lone freshman on the first line, to leading the team in goals.
“I definitely think it helps, as a sophomore,” Moulson said. “Freshman year, there were a lot of big leaders on the team who led us to the playoffs, and we got pretty far into the NCAAs. That experience — that feeling —