February 23, 2007

Men’s Hockey Aims for Bye

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For college hockey prognosticators, the last weekend of the men’s hockey team’s regular season provides a mind-twisting set of possibilities. No. 16 Cornell, No. 20 Quinnipiac and Dartmouth are all fighting for third and fourth place in the ECACHL — spots that would guarantee a first-round bye in the league playoffs. In addition the Red, Green and Bulldogs are simultaneously chasing the Ivy League title — the winner or co-winners of which will be decided at the end of the weekend.

However, for Cornell’s players and coaches, the focus is not on statistics and scenarios. For the last time in the 2006-07 regular season, it’s all about playing good hockey.

“We don’t think about what could be or what might be,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “You need to get as many points as you can this time of year.”
[img_assist|nid=21631|title=On the mark|desc=The Red and senior Mark McCutcheon (10), who scored Cornell’s fourth goal during the Red’s 8-4 win over Princeton on Saturday, will face Dartmouth and Harvard this weekend.|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=62]

Cornell (14-9-4, 10-6-4 ECACHL) will play Dartmouth (14-10-3, 10-7-3) in Hanover, N.H., tonight before finishing off its regular season in Cambridge, Mass., tomorrow night, in a rivalry match against Harvard (10-14-1, 8-10-2 ECACHL). A weekend sweep for the Red would guarantee the squad a first-round bye in the ECACHL playoffs and its fifth Ivy title in the last six years.

“The only thing we really need to do is continue to work hard and let things fall where they will,” said senior winger Mark McCutcheon. “It’s an exciting time and I think the guys are feeling that.”

The Red — tied for third place in the ECACHL with Quinnipiac — is 5-1-1 in its last seven games and hopes to extend its three-game winning streak tonight against the fifth-place Green. Cornell has heated up offensively and locked down on defense during its recent four-game unbeaten streak, out-scoring its opponents 19-8 during that span.

The Red has benefited from the play of sophomore goaltender Troy Davenport and freshman winger Colin Greening. This week, Davenport earned ECACHL goaltender of the week honors after posting a shutout victory over the Bobcats and making 37 saves in Cornell’s win against Princeton. Greening was also recognized this week as the league’s top rookie having recorded a five-point offensive outburst (two goals, three assists) and finishing the weekend with a +4 rating.

“[Goaltender of the week] is a pretty nice accomplishment,” Davenport said. “I have to give credit to my team — they were there for me this weekend.”

Dartmouth will be determined to quell Cornell’s Ivy title hopes tonight at Thompson Arena. The Green has won five out of its last six games, including a road sweep of Brown and Yale last weekend.

Juniors David Jones (15 goals, 20 assists) and Nick Johnson (10 goals, 13 assists) lead Dartmouth in scoring, and junior goaltender Mike Devine has 13 wins for the season and a .914 save percentage.

“We have to be disciplined when we go on the road,” Schafer said. “We have to compete hard. We have to get to the front of the net.”

Despite its rollercoaster season, the Crimson poses a difficult challenge for the Red in the second game of its road trip at the Bright Center. Harvard is winless in its last three games but has won its last three contests at home.

Senior Kevin Du leads the Crimson in scoring with 21 points (four goals, 17 assists) followed by rookie Doug Rogers with 20 points (six goals, 14 assists).

Freshman Kyle Richter and senior Justin Tobe have split time in goal for Harvard, with Richter owning the better record (7-8-2) and save percentage (.903).

The Red is also hoping for the return of injured senior Mitch Carefoot and sophomore Michael Kennedy, who was hurt in Cornell’s win over Quinnipiac. Both would be crucial additions to the squad as it attempts to garner momentum for its perennial run at the league championship.

“I think that the team is capable of winning an ECAC championship — just like any other year,” Schafer said. “We’re starting to get on a roll in the most important time of year.”