With one eye on its opening home series against No. 10 Michigan State (2-0-0), the No. 2 Cornell men’s hockey team will continue its preparation for the start of its season tonight, when it hosts the U.S. Under-18 National Team at Lynah Rink in an exhibition game.
This will be the second opportunity for coaches and fans to get a glimpse of this year’s squad after the Red took the ice last Saturday in the team’s annual Red/White Scrimmage. According to senior captain Matt Moulson, he was impressed with how his teammates competed, despite the intra-squad nature of the game.
“The guys were working hard, obviously they wouldn’t go as hard as someone else who is not on the team, but it was pretty competitive out there and that’s what we’ve got to do to get ready for the season,” Moulson said. “All in all, I thought it went well.”
The postgame talk however, focused on a fight between Moulson and classmate and assistant captain Jon Gleed towards the end of the scrimmage. When asked about what happened in that situation, Moulson laughed.
“Me and Jon are good friends, and early on in the game, I caught him with a slash and then caught him at the end of the game with [another] slash [and] he made a cross check [on me],” Moulson said. “We’re two pretty competitive guys not giving each other an inch, so we got into it at the end, but we’re fine now and I look forward to carrying that national championship with him at the end of the year.
“We’re buddy-buddy now. It might have been a bit of a little shock to some fans, and some of the kids who didn’t like it, but those things happen within our hockey team and we certainly get over them,” Moulson continued. “I’m sure me and Jon will be laughing at this a lot more in the future.”
While the prospect of a captain and an assistant captain fighting in front of fans might not have been the most savory scene at Lynah Rink on Saturday, Moulson said that there was one positive thing to take out of the scrum.
“Not that we don’t care about each other, but we’re both out there to win and it shows our competitive side and what we have to do to win – obviously not fight in games, but you’ve got to play on that edge and play right up to the brink of almost fighting,” Moulson said.
In terms of the Red’s performance during the contest, Moulson said that the team is trying to get adjusted to the system and real game play, and last Saturday’s scrimmage helped in that regard. The U-18 team has played four games against NCAA teams so far this year, earning wins against Lake Superior State and Canisius College, while losing to Northern Michigan and Robert Morris. Erik Johnson currently leads the squad in points against NCAA competition with six, tallying two goals and four assists.
Although Cornell will undoubtedly be the toughest team the U-18’s have faced this year, Moulson said that they should not be underestimated.
“Even though they are young, they have some outstanding players on that team,” Moulson said. “They’re going to be a good team and a couple of these guys will be first round picks next year in the NHL draft, so we’ll have to come out hard and the main thing to remember is that in the early [part] of the season, nothing’s going to be perfect.”
Tonight’s contest against the U-18’s will be the Red’s last live opportunity to prepare for its series against the Spartans, and Moulson acknowledged that while the team will probably not be clicking on all cylinders, the team has to compete to try and compensate for any potential miscues.
“The main point of this game is to get ready for Michigan State, which will probably be one of the biggest series of the season,” Moulson said. “We’re just going to have to work hard and execute and do what we’ve practiced here.”
Archived article by Brian Tsao
Sun Assistant Sports Editor