The forthcoming Saturday will showcase some of the most eagerly awaited matchups in the world of college sports — games seemingly tailored for an upset. BCS frontrunner Southern California hosts Notre Dame in football; Gonzaga hopes to usurp Illinois in men’s hoops, and national powerhouses Michigan and Wisconsin square off on the ice in Madison.
Here in Ithaca, Canisius College will be looking for another upset when the Golden Griffins take on the men’s hockey team at Lynah Rink at 7 p.m.
The No. 14 Red (4-4-2, 2-1-1 ECACHL) will attempt to get its season back on track against Canisius (6-5-1, 5-1-0 Atlantic Hockey Association) after failing to record a victory in its last four games. Cornell hopes coming back to Lynah — where the team holds a 4-0-0 record this year — will facilitate a return to the winning trend.
“We have to get back here, play hard, play physical and finish our chances,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86.
A number of revealing statistics demonstrate the Jekyll-and-Hyde nature of the Red’s performance on the road. After netting 23 goals in its first four home wins, Cornell’s offense has managed to produce only five goals in its last four outings away from Lynah. In addition, out of the five power play goals allowed by the Red this season, four of them were given up on the road — including two at Vermont. The Red has also been called for 74 penalty minutes in away games, as opposed to only 52 minutes at home.
At the same time, the Red has been consistent this season in other key categories, most notably on the defensive side. Cornell leads the nation with the lowest goals against average, allowing a paltry 1.38 goals per game. Sophomore goaltender David McKee continues to shine between the pipes, boasting a .941 save percentage — good enough for fourth best nationally. McKee has elevated his game lately — he stopped a season-high 36 shots preserve the Red’s 1-1 tie against Michigan State on Nov. 12 — and the netminder has allowed an average of only a goal per game at home.
However, for Schafer and the Red, there is constantly room for improvement.
“I want us to be more physical and sharpen up on our power play,” Schafer said.
The Red’s power play may see significant action Saturday against the Golden Griffins, who have accumulated a conference-high 349 total penalty minutes thus far. Canisius’ third leading scorer, freshman Mike Ruberto, has accounted for 43 of the team’s minutes after only 12 games.
“If you look at the statistics, [Canisius] is a heavily penalized team,” Schafer said. “We have to make them pay when they take penalties.”
Junior Andrew Dawe, who ranks first in the AHA in scoring with five goals and six assists, leads the Golden Griffins offensively. The Red will also be watching Joel Kitchen, a rookie tied for second in the conference in scoring with six goals and four assists. In goal, Canisius will start senior Bryan Worosz, who was named InsideCollegeHockey.com’s National Player of the Week on Monday after posting 66 saves on 67 shots in two victories over Connecticut
. After starting the season at 1-4-1, the Golden Griffins have rebounded to win five of their last six games. Saturday’s contest marks the first ever meeting between Cornell and Canisius.
Archived article by Kyle Sheahen
Sun Assistant Sports Editor