February 3, 2006

Men's Hockey Set to Face First-Place Colgate

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Although it has been 364 days since the Cornell and Colgate men’s hockey teams opened up their last home-and-home series against each other, the storyline for this season’s series has not changed much in a year.

Similar to the 2004-05 season, the Red and the Raiders will fight it out for first place in the ECACHL starting tonight in Lynah Rink. However, unlike the squads’ series last season – in which No. 5 Cornell (14-4-3, 9-3-2 ECACHL) was ahead of its central New York counterpart by a point in the conference – No. 17 Colgate (15-6-5, 11-2-1) boasts a three-point advantage over the second-place Red this year.

“I think everyone knows how important it’s going to be,” said Cornell junior Mark McCutcheon. “If we sweep, we’re in first. It’s as simple as that.”

While the mathematics are pretty straightforward – a pair of Cornell wins would catapult the Red to first place with six league games to play – defeating a Colgate squad that is currently riding a five-game winning streak will be a complex task. In the Red’s last six games versus the Raiders, Cornell is 2-3-1. However, last season, the Red escaped the weekend with three points on its way to a first-place finish in the ECACHL.

“I think they’re extremely hard working, they have a lot of pride in their team,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “They do a good job of staying within their systems and everybody is committed to playing that way in order to be successful.”

Though Colgate’s form in non-conference play has been inconsistent, the Raiders’ potent offense has lifted them to the top of the ECACHL. Sophomore sensation Tyler Burton has been a force for the Raiders, scoring a team-high 19 goals and recording 31 points this season.

“Ty is a huge part of our team,” said Colgate senior captain Jon Smyth (8 goals, 18 assists). “He brings it every night and he brought it last year and this year as well. He’s a guy who can make a big difference in the game.”

Boasting the ninth-best power play in the nation (20.8 percent), Burton and the Raiders are flanked by forwards Marc Fulton (9 g, 21 a), Kyle Wilson (18 g, 10 a) and Jesse Winchester (10 g, 17 a). But, while his team’s offensive power will be a major factor in the game, Colgate head coach Don Vaughan said that his team needs to keep things simple.

“We’re not going to try to get too cute,” Vaughan said. “Sometimes, guys try to get too deliberate