Last season at this time, the men’s hockey team was riding a four-game unbeaten streak and had won ten of its previous thirteen games. This season, Cornell enters the annual home-and-home series against Colgate under considerably less favorable circumstances.
The No. 18 Red — winless in the team’s last six games and presently tied for fourth place in the ECACHL — continues the chase for its first victory of 2007 tonight in Hamilton against Colgate. Cornell (9-7-3, 5-4-3 ECACHL) has retained first place in the Ivy League during its current slump.
[img_assist|nid=20888|title=Cheers|desc=The men’s hockey team celebrates after a goal scored last Saturday in a 5-2 loss to Brown. The Red will travel to Hamilton, N.Y., tonight to face rival Colagate at 7 p.m.|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=63]
“It’s not that we have been coming out and we haven’t been working hard, or we haven’t been ready or wanted to win or anything like that,” said sophomore defenseman Jared Seminoff. “We always come wanting to win. We just have to keep coming out and doing what we do. Sooner or later, things are going to start clicking back again and we will be in the wins category.”
Cornell has not been winless in six games since the 1999-2000 season. From Nov. 23, 1999 to Jan. 4, 2000, the Red went 0-5-1.
“[Cornell] teams in the past have always had that killer instinct,” said senior captain Byron Bitz. “It’s about finishing teams off. If it’s 2-1, don’t give up a goal.”
The underachieving Raiders (10-12-4, 4-5-3 ECACHL) give the Red an opportunity to re-energize its championship hopes. Colgate — a pre-season league favorite — had been mired in a four-game winless streak before knocking off Yale last Saturday, 4-1. Yet, despite both teams’ conspicuous absence from the top of the league standings, both clubs expect a hard-fought outing in the squads’ 128th meeting tonight.
“[Colgate] has a really good hockey team and they get really fired up for these games,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “There is a great environment both at their rink and our rink. The games will be very hotly contested, well played and close games.”
Colgate fans are notorious for their treatment of visiting Cornell teams. When the Red takes the ice at Starr Rink tonight, the players will likely be greeted by a flurry of Big Red gum packs.
“I always have a lot of fun playing up there,” Bitz said. “Their fans hate us — it would remind you of someone coming into our rink and playing against us with our fans.”
The Raiders are led by junior Tyler Burton, a center from Langley, British Columbia. Burton is tied for third in the league scoring with 26 points (ten goals and 16 assists). The center is complemented on offense by senior Marc Fulton, a winger from Vancouver, British Columbia who has recorded 25 points this season. Fulton is tied for second in the league with 13 goals on the year, including an ECACHL-leading eight power play goals.
Junior goaltender Mark Dekanich has started for Colgate in 24 games, posting a 10-10-4 record with a .918 save percentage and 2.45 goals against average. The North Vancouver, British Columbia native was named the ECACHL Co-Goaltender of the Week on Monday after finishing with a league-best 1.45 goals against average and .950 save percentage in the Raiders’ three-point league weekend. Cornell is unbeaten against Colgate in the last five meetings of the rivalry, including the Red’s 2-0 victory against the Raiders in the ECACHL semi-finals last season. A win tonight would not just mean an end to Cornell’s current woes — it would also be a historic milestone for head coach Schafer. If Cornell wins tonight, Schafer will surpass Dick Bertrand for the most victories by a Cornell head coach. Currently, Schafer is tied with Bertrand with 230 wins all-time.