October 26, 2006

M. Hockey Opens Against Robert Morris

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The long wait is over for the Lynah Faithful, as the men’s hockey team will open its 2006-07 season when it faces Robert Morris in Lynah Rink tonight. The team will then face off against RIT on Saturday night.

“There’s a lot of excitement,” said senior defenseman Doug Krantz. “The guys have been training together since August. It’s been a couple of long months. We’re ready to go.”

Cornell will play its first official game of the new season against a first-time opponent, Robert Morris. The Red (0-0-0, 0-0-0 ECACHL) is coming off an exhibition game against York that it won handily, 11-1, with nine different players finding the back of the net.

“We didn’t play a perfect game [against York] but we played all right,” said sophomore goaltender Troy Davenport. “There’s little things from that game that [head coach Mike Schafer ’86 has] been going through on video to show us what we shouldn’t be doing so that we can fix it up for Robert Morris.”

Robert Morris (1-2-0, 0-0-0 CHA) opened its season with a 4-2 win over Quinnipiac, but had some of the wind sucked from its sails when it ventured onto the ice against the ECACHL’s Quinnipiac on the road. In a 3-1 loss last Friday, Robert Morris out-shot its host, 44-27. The following night, the deciding factor was the referee’s whistle, as a total of 30 penalties were handed out by the officials, producing 23 power play opportunities. The Colonials went just 1-for-10 on the power play while allowing the hosts to convert on 2-of-13 chances.

Aaron Clarke is the points leader for the Colonials with four assists on the young season, while Chris Margott has scored a team-high pair of goals. Christian Boucher, a preseason selection to College Hockey America’s all-conference team, has been the primary goaltender for Robert Morris, earning a 2.54 goals against average and a .889 save percentage.

The Red will have a brief respite with a night off tomorrow before returning to the ice on Saturday night to take on RIT. The two squads met for the first time ever last season, with Cornell claiming a 3-1 win on Jan. 7. For the Tigers (2-2-1, 0-0-0 AH), who are playing only their second season as a Division I program, Saturday night is a chance to define their program against a well-established team.

[img_assist|nid=19209|title=Board games|desc=Sophomore Ryan Kindret (right) battles for the puck with York’s Kyle Searle (left) in the Red’s 11-1 exhibition win last Saturday.|link=popup|align=left|width=100|height=88]

“We want to play as well as we possibly can and get better,” said RIT head coach Wayne Wilson. “We want to improve as a team. It’s only our second year as a Division I program and we want to play teams like Cornell that are highly ranked and well-known.”

While Cornell might have a long, storied history to stand on, the Red is not taking anything for granted against the Tigers.

“They’re going to come in, [and] they’re going to work hard. We know that from last year when we played them,” Krantz said. “We’re going to have to be solid and we’re going to have to be ready to go. It’s not going to be like York. They played hard, but this is going to be a much higher-caliber team. … We’re going to have to out-work them and do what we do best, stick to our systems, and hopefully we’ll come out on top.”

RIT was able to gain momentum last weekend, posting its first two wins of the season with a sweep of American International College. The Tigers have also sought out tough competition to start the year, falling to the ECACHL’s Clarkson and St. Lawrence, while earning a 2-2 tie against Union. In five games, RIT has scored 23 goals, and is led by Simon Lambert’s eight points on two goals and six assists. Wilson said his team is excited to test their scoring and playing abilities in yet another hostile road environment.

“It’s something we look forward to. We’re excited for the challenge and really happy coach Schafer is giving us the chance to play in Lynah,” Wilson said. “[We know] we’ve got to bring our ‘A’ game to survive and play well in that environment.”

The Tigers will find themselves facing a much different team than last January’s squad, as netminder David McKee ’07 and defensemen Ryan O’Byrne ’07 and Sasha Pokulok ’08 all left the East Hill for the NHL. This is all not to mention that last season’s leading scorer, Matt Moulson, graduated. Despite a changing of the guard at Cornell, Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley does not anticipate a weaker lineup from the Red this year.

“Cornell is still a very, very good hockey team. Theyve done a phenomenal job over the last four years,” Schooley said. “We need to play our very best.”

Wilson reaffirmed Schooley’s comments.

“They have a defense that is very strong and mobile,” Wilson said. “[Junior assistant captain] Topher Scott was someone that really moved well and they have a number of players you have to be very conscious of.”

Scott and senior forward Mark McCutcheon both scored twice against York, while senior captain Byron Bitz was second on the team with 28 points a year ago. Schafer has yet to decide whether Davenport or freshman Ben Scrivens will take over McKee’s spot in the starting lineup.