February 18, 2005

Men's Hockey Hosts RPI, Union

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With two weeks left in the regular season, the No. 4 men’s hockey team (18-4-3, 14-2-2 ECACHL) sits atop the league standings with a four-point lead over Colgate. This weekend, the Red will try to move one step closer to clinching the No. 1 seed in the ECACHL tournament when it battles RPI (13-17-2, 5-12-1 ECACHL) and Union (11-18-1, 7-11-0 ECACHL) tonight and tomorrow at Lynah Rink. Both contests begin at 7 p.m.

“Everybody’s fighting for position in the standings,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “The reasons we’re fighting for might be a little different than the reasons RPI and Union are fighting for, but everybody’s trying to jockey and get themselves the best position in the standings. It’s kind of the unique thing about our playoffs, going down the stretch drive here, everybody has the same thing at stake.”

Tomorrow’s senior night will honor Charlie Cook, Jeremy Downs, Mike Iggulden, Mike Knoepfli, and Paul Varteressian, as it will be the last regular season home game of their careers. The class of 2005 has racked up impressive credentials in its four years at Cornell, including a Frozen Four showing, two NCAA appearances, one ECACHL title, and three Ivy League titles.

“Senior night is coming a little too soon,” Cook said. “It’s going to be a bittersweet experience, I’m sure, but I guess I’m ready.”

Junior assistant captain Matt Moulson echoed Cook’s sentiments.

“I’ve played with these guys for three years, it’s sad to see a great bunch of guys, a good class leave,” Moulson said. “Senior night always touches home with everyone. It’ll be an emotional weekend.”

After taking three points off of its travel partner, Colgate, two weeks ago, the Red further distanced itself last weekend with a four-point effort on the road against Princeton and Yale, while the Raiders only came away with three. Last Friday, Cornell blanked the Tigers 5-0, with five different players netting a goal. The Red’s special teams accounted for three tallies, with Iggulden netting his second shorthanded goal of the season. Sophomore goalie David McKee recorded his sixth shutout of the season, which tied him for second all-time in program history with David LeNeveu ’05.

The next night against Yale, the Red fell behind early in the first period, but answered just 22 seconds later with a tally from sophomore Byron Bitz. Cornell tacked on two more scores in the period en route to a 5-2 victory. For the second night in a row, five different scorers recorded goals for the Red, and also for the second night in a row, Iggulden netted a shorthanded goal — the eventual game-winner.

During its trip to the Capital District in January, the Red took four points from Union and RPI. Another Iggulden shorthanded goal, this time in overtime, sealed a 2-1 victory over the Dutchmen, while the Red beat up on an under-manned Engineer squad the next night, winning 5-0.

“RPI will be a much different team than when we played up there,” Schafer said. “Kirk MacDonald was out of the game, Oren Eizenman, two of their better players didn’t play. You take two of anybody’s top four scorers out of the game, you’re going to have a whole different type of team.”

MacDonald leads the team in scoring with 31 points, and last weekend, he scored the game-winner against Brown with nine seconds remaining in regulation. 3-3-0 in its last six conference games, the Engineers sit in tenth place in the conference standings, and will need two wins to remain in the hunt for home-ice in the first round of the conference playoffs. Union, currently in ninth, is only one point behind seventh place Clarkson and St. Lawrence. After starting conference play 6-2-0, the Dutchmen have dropped 11 of their last 12 conference games. Jordan Webb and Scott Seney are tied for the team league in scoring with 24 points, while goalies Kris Mayotte and Justin Mrazek have been splitting time between the pipes.

“Union always gives us a difficult time, especially in their rink, and we just have to play our game at home in Lynah and keep the streak going,” said junior Shane Hynes. The Red are unbeaten at home this season.

The Red will head up to the North Country next weekend for its final two games of the regular season against Clarkson and St. Lawrence. With a first-round bye in hand, Cornell will return to Lynah Rink three weeks from now for the second round of the ECACHL playoffs.

Archived article by Jonathan Auerbach
Sun Staff Writer