October 19, 2007

M. Hockey Plays Final Exhibition Games

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Canada is known for its amicable relations with the United States. This weekend, though, the men’s hockey team will take on its neighbor from the north, as it opens its season with two exhibition games at Lynah Rink. Cornell faces off against Trois Rivieres tonight and the University of Ottawa on Sunday afternoon.
This will be the first time that Cornell actually faces an opponent this season. In addition to regular practice, the team has so far only participated in the Red-White Scrimmage last weekend. In that intrasquad contest, which was highlighted by physical play, the Red team won, 6-3.
“I think that was one of the things that a lot of guys noticed about this year’s Red-White game, the intensity out there,” said senior co-captain Topher Scott. “That’s something we’ve really tried to incorporate in our game. … We have really preached working hard and playing physical. I think it really showed in the Red-White game.”
Cornell will have a slightly different look this year as it adds a number of newcomers to a squad that finished 14-13-4 last year, 10-8-4 in the ECACHL. The 14 returning letter-winners will be joined by eight freshmen who are expected to make contributions immediately.
“I think the freshmen are progressing great, but I think the upperclassmen have done a tremendous job of making them feel comfortable,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “They know from the conversations they’ve had with our upperclassmen that if we are going to have success this year, the freshmen have to contribute. They have to produce. They also have to be team guys and know their role and know their responsibilities of what it takes to be a team member and what our expectations are here.”
The games this weekend will also be a chance for goaltenders Troy Davenport and Ben Scrivens to make a case for playing time. Davenport, a junior, started 23 games last year and compiled a 2.41 goals against average and an .899 save percentage. Scrivens, a sophomore, started eight games and recorded a 2.30 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.
“If both of them step up and it’s equal, both of them will play,” Schafer said. “Freshman year as a goaltender is a difficult position in college hockey. I thought both of them did a really good job last year. I think they are both very confident right now. Both of them want to improve their game.”
Cornell’s defense will also have to deal with the absence of sophomore Brendon Nash, who is out with a knee injury. Even though Nash was named to the preseason All-ECACHL squad by the league’s coaches, the Red is still confident in its team defense.
“There is not one guy that is going to step up and take control of a game,” said senior co-alternate captain Doug Krantz. “We really look for that team aspect, not just the defensemen, but the forwards to help us out back there blocking shots. And having one of our goaltenders step up and make big plays.”
Tonight’s contest will be against a team that has already played three regular-season games, compiling a 2-1 record. Trois Rivieres has also played five exhibition contests, including a 6-0 loss to Massachusetts on Oct. 7. So far this year, the Patriotes have been led by Jonathan Boutin, who has notched five goals and two assists this year, including a hat trick over the University of Ottawa. The Patriotes also boast Mathieu Gravel, who has two goals and five assists in three games.
The University of Ottawa has played four games so far this season, posting a 2-2 mark. Defenseman Rob Jarvis leads the squad with five points, all assists. Fellow defenseman Mathieu Desjardins has notched a goal and two assists this year and forward Dan McDonald leads the Gee-Gees with two goals.
Even though the two games are exhibition matches, Cornell’s mindset will not be any different than a normal contest.
“We only play 30 games, so we have to treat these like they are regular season games,” said senior co-captain Raymond Sawada. “First and foremost, we want to come out with two wins off the weekend, but we want to make sure that we are playing our systems, everybody is working hard, coming out hitting.”