Although some were concerned with the men’s hockey team’s play during the first few weeks of the season, the Red has allayed many of those fears over winter break, boasting a nine-game unbeaten run (7-0-2) which started all the way back in Nov. 19 with a 1-1 tie against Rensselaer that was halted just this past Saturday at Princeton.
After sweeping Niagara over Thanksgiving break in two high-scoring contests, No. 8 Cornell (11-4-2, 6-3-1 ECACHL) recorded a pair of impressive wins at Lynah Rink over conference foes Princeton and Quinnipiac by the scores of 4-1 and 2-1, respectively. Those wins paved the way for a six-game run in which the Red only conceded three total goals.
Cornell next took to the ice over three weeks later at the Florida College Classic in Estero, Fla. Shaking off any rust, the Red produced a convincing 3-0 win over Northeastern using goals by seniors Matt Moulson and Daniel Pegoraro and sophomore Doug Krantz. A day later, the Red took the tournament on a shootout, defeating Minnesota-Duluth, after the two teams played to a 1-1 tie.
During winter break, junior netminder David McKee, a Hobey Baker Hat Trick finalist last season, recovered from a relatively shaky start to his 2005-2006 campaign by earning Most Valuable Player honors at the Florida College Classic. McKee has recorded two shutouts over the break and his goals against average is now 2.06 – tops in the ECACHL. The goaltender has been aided by a resurgent Cornell penalty kill as well. Starting from the second period of the team’s game against Quinnipiac on Dec. 3, the Red had stopped 36 consecutive power plays – a streak which ended last Saturday against Princeton.
In addition, the Red has moved up to eighth in team defense nationally, allowing 2.12 goals per game this season.
For their individual efforts in Florida, Moulson, senior Cam Abbott, who scored the Red’s lone goal against Minnesota-Duluth, and junior defenseman Ryan O’Byrne were named to the all-tournament team.
The Red came back to Lynah Rink for the first time in 2006 on Jan. 7, and hosted non-conference foe RIT. Led by a two-goal, 17-shot performance by Moulson and three assists by junior Byron Bitz, Cornell extended its unbeaten streak to eight, coasting to a 3-1 win in which RIT goaltender Jocelyn Guimond was forced to make 53 saves on 87 total shot attempts.
Last Friday, the Red continued its impressive play on both ends of the ice by crushing Quinnipiac (10-13-0, 4-11-0), 6-0, in New Haven, Conn., behind a pair of goals by junior Mitch Carefoot and a three-point showing by Moulson. Meanwhile, Cornell’s penalty kill snuffed out each of the Bobcats’ six power-play opportunities.
However, the Red had a setback at Princeton’s Hobey Baker Rink this past Saturday, falling 3-0 to the Tigers (7-12-1, 4-9-1), who were led by the stellar play of goaltender Eric Leroux. Princeton took the lead on a first-period goal by Darroll Powe and with Cornell’s offense unable to find its way past Leroux, who made 35 saves, Grant Goekner-Zoeller scored the Tigers’ second with four minutes left in the encounter. Powe added an empty-netter to seal the deal with eight seconds left, snapping the Red’s national-best unbeaten streak.
Similar to its results up to this point, the Red’s success for the remainder of the season will continue to hinge on the play of its captain, Moulson, who is first on the team in goals (12) and points (23) and has recorded at least one point in 14 of the team’s 17 games. Sophomore Topher Scott leads the Red in assists with 12, while Bitz (3 goals, 9 assists) and O’Byrne (5 G, 4 A) have also made notable contributions on the offensive end.
However, the loss to a lowly Princeton team might be worrying for some, considering that the squad’s road to the ECACHL postseason in March is extremely difficult over the next month and a half. With first and eighth place in the ECACHL separated by six points, the Red, tied for fourth, still has to face No. 17 Colgate twice and No. 15 Harvard and Dartmouth once.
Nine of the Red’s remaining 12 games are against teams which are currently in the top half of the ECACHL standings and Cornell will start this tough stretch on Friday night when it hosts league frontrunners, No. 10 St. Lawrence, in the first of two meetings this season between the sides.
Archived article by Brian TsaoSun Assistant Sports Editor
Depending on how one looks at it, the women’s basketball team either been very successful or sporadically successful.
The good news is that little more than halfway through the 2005-2006 campaign, the team has surpassed its win total from all of last season, reaching its fourth notch in the win column last Friday against Ivy-rival Penn. And in its last game, the Red scored 80 points.
The bad news is that the team is 4-11, and lost the game in which it scored 80 points, 94-80, to Princeton.
But regardless of how one looks at it, the Red believes it is improving.
“We have been playing some pretty good basketball,” said head coach Dayna Smith.
Led by sophomore Lindsay Krasna and rookie Jeomi Maduka, the team got its second win of the season against Army on December 2nd, 64-61.
A loss to Marist (68-53), in which the Red’s 53 points scored was the lowest total since its opening game, caused the squad to focus on picking up its offensive output.
It has done just that, averaging 64.4 points per game since then, and is currently tied for third in the Ivy League in points scored per game.
In the following contest, the women beat Colgate (76-69) for the Red’s first road victory in more than a year. Maduka had a double-double (22 points, 10 rebounds), and would go on to win her second of four Ivy League Rookie of the Week awards this season.
However, hard times would soon follow. The Red lost five straight games to Bucknell (62-57), Syracuse (70-69), Texas-Arlington (75-57), Texas Christian (74-52), and Binghamton (75-60). Those games, however, would help the Red earn its next victory – its most important of the season.
“The Bucknell and Syracuse games both came down to the last possessions,” Smith said. “We had leads in both of those games and we didn’t hold on for the win.”
Smith liked the physical and aggressive basketball her team played in those two games despite the losses. And after traveling to Texas and taking on an “excellent basketball program” in Texas Christian, and a solid program in Texas-Arlington, Smith says the team learned it could run with anyone.
“We learned we could compete with up-tempo teams,” she said.
After a loss to Binghamton, the last non-conference game of the season, in which the first half had six lead changes and the Red made a late comeback attempt, the team showed some character.
With each loss came another lesson, and those lessons came together to help the Red in its next game against Penn. It was the Red’s opening game in Ivy League play, and the team defended its home court well with a 64-51 win.
“[It] was a really big victory for us,” Smith said. “We did a tremendous job competing with their inside game.”
Team defense was the key against the Quakers, but it would be absent in the Red’s next contest against Princeton. The Red scored 80 points, a season high, but gave up 94 points to the Tigers.
For her performances against Penn and Princeton, freshman Kayleen Fitzsimmons earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week. She scored 12 points, had five assists, and two steals against the Quakers, and 10 points and five assists while battling the Tigers.
“We actually did some nice things we haven’t done all year, which was nice,” Smith said. But the coach also knows that a loss is a loss, that giving up 94 points is unacceptable, and that there is still much work to be done.
“We still need to learn how to get the ball inside to [freshman] Jeomi [Maduka]. We also need to learn how to play better team defense,” she said.
The Red currently allows the most points per game of any Ivy League team, and is ranked sixth in field goal percentage allowed out of all the Ancient Eight teams.
Archived article by Josh PerlinSun Staff Writer