January 19, 2007

Men’s Hockey to Take On Ivy Rivals in Lynah Rink

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Mired in a four-game winless streak and sitting in fifth place in the ECACHL standings, the No. 15 men’s hockey team will look to get its season back on track with a pair of conference games at home in Lynah Rink this weekend. Yale (8-7-2, 5-5-0 ECACHL) will visit Ithaca tonight, and Brown (7-7-3, 3-6-1) will square off with the Red (9-6-2, 5-3-2) tomorrow.

“These two games will be important for us to get a couple of wins and see where we are,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “We have to put things together and continue to get better.”

[img_assist|nid=20797|title=Steady aim|desc=Senior Mitch Carefoot (11) supplied all of the Red’s offense last weekend, scoring goals in a 4-1 loss to St. Lawrence and a 1-1 tie with Clarkson on the road.|link=node|align=left|width=100|height=69]

“We are just getting back to work. We know what we can do, and we can’t listen to anyone who doubts us,” said junior assistant captain Topher Scott. “We have faith in our team. We think we can go out there and win every game. We just have to go out there and prove we are the better team.”

For the Red to come away with a four-point weekend, its special teams play will likely need to improve. In the last four games, Cornell is a feeble 1-for-27 on the power play, while its penalty kill unit has been sub-par as well, with just a 16-of-21 (76 percent) success rate. Many of the team’s players have pointed to special teams as a decisive factor in victory, and Cornell is 9-2-2 when it scores a power play goal.

Schafer knows the importance of special teams play and has liked what he has seen this week in practice.

“We’ve been doing really great job of moving the puck around and executing,” Schafer said. “Our penalty kill is really starting to come around, and we’ve done a lot of work on that in practice. The guys are pretty focused, but we’re still in the process of getting our game to 100 percent.”

The can ill afford to take these Ivy League rivals lightly as both squads remain close in the league standings. Yale is a tough, scrappy team that will be anxious to extact revenge for a 5-2 loss suffered at the hands of the Red back on Nov. 4 in New Haven, Conn. On that night, senior Mark McCutcheon and Scott tallied three points apiece as Cornell rolled to the victory on the Bulldogs’ home ice.

Yale has been stuck in a rut since that loss — its first of the season — as the squad is 2-6-2 since opening with five straight victories. Led by freshmen Sean Backman and Mark Arcobello, Yale has proved dangerous at times under the guidance of first-year head coach Keith Allain.

Anchored by the inspiring play of freshman goalie Dan Rosen, Brown will also come into Lynah looking to even up the season series with the Red. Back on Nov. 3, sophomore Evan Barlow scored two goals as the Red came out of Providence with a 3-2 victory. Rosen, though, has been solid in net with a 2.01 goals against average and a .941 saving percentage.

“Brown has been playing very well,” Schafer said. “Their goaltender has given them some wins.”

Brown also finds itself going through tough times, as it is the midst of a three-game losing streak. The Bears feature a balanced attack, with six players in double figures for points. Junior Jeff Prough leads the forwards, as his nine goals and 14 points are team highs.

With two struggling teams visiting Lynah this weekend, the Red has an opportunity to turn its season around.

“We aren’t playing as well as we’d like to, especially in our own league, but we’ve been working hard in practice to come out strong against Yale and Brown,” said junior forward Raymond Sawada.