February 11, 2005

Hockey Hits the Road

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After breaking into the top five in both the USA Today/American Hockey Magazine and the USCHO.com/CSTV polls, No. 5 Cornell (16-4-3, 12-2-2 ECACHL) will face the teams with the two worst records in the ECACHL this weekend when it heads on the road to meet Princeton (6-15-2, 4-11-1 ECACHL) and Yale (4-18-1, 3-13-0 ECACHL).

The Red closed out last semester at home against these two rivals, defeating the Bulldogs 6-2 and the Tigers 5-3. Cornell will look to complete the sweep of both squads this weekend, as well gain ground on conference leader Harvard. If the Red wants to claim its fourth consecutive league title, it will need two victories coupled with a loss by Harvard to either Brown or Dartmouth later this month.

Cornell has amassed 12 points in the ECACHL this season, assuring itself no worse than a seventh-place finish. With a pair of wins against Yale and Princeton, the Red would secure a first-round playoff bye.

The Tigers and the Bulldogs have given up 4.06 goals and 4.25 goals per game respectively this season, the two worst totals in the league. The Red is the exact opposite, leading the league with a 1.43 goals against average this season. Sophomore David McKee has posted a 1.39 GAA, which is best in the nation.

The Red displayed its ability to play against nationally ranked competition this past weekend, going 1-0-1 against the No. 12 Colgate Raiders in two chess matches, with only five combined goals scored all weekend. The Red led 2-1 going into the third period of Saturday’s eventual tie, but freshman Tyler Burton capitalized on the power play only thirty seconds in to even the match at two apiece.

The Red matches up well on paper against both of its weekend opponents, as its defense is statistically the best in the nation. However, despite the Red’s defensive inclination, the squad has averaged nearly three goals per game in ECACHL play. Comparatively, Cornell has 47 goals in league play, with Princeton and Yale netting 46 and 41 respectively.

Despite their aforementioned weaknesses, the Tigers have several strong threats, notably on the offensive end. Junior forward Dustin Sproat continues to be on of the top weapons in the ECACHL, having racked up 14 goals and 16 assists this season on Princeton’s top line. In addition, sophomore winger Grant Goeckner-Zoeller has been on of the top assist men in the country, with 20 assists this season. Overall, the Tigers are sixth in the ECACHL in goals scored.

The 11th place Bulldogs, who also have struggled significantly this season, have managed to play well of late. Last weekend, Yale topped seventh place St. Lawrence in a 5-2 rout behind two goals by freshman upstart Blair Yaworski. Its win at St. Lawrence ended Yale’s three game losing streak.

The Bulldogs also have a number of young forces on offense. Sophomore Brad Mills leads the team with 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists), while freshman Blair Yaworski is fourth on the team in scoring with 13 points this season (5 G, 8 A). Yale has found itself in quite a few offensive shootouts this season, most notably in a close 5-3 loss to perennial rival Harvard two weeks ago, where the teams were tied heading into the third period.

Archived article by Mike Pandolfini
Sun Staff Writer