November 16, 2007

M. Hockey Faces Crimson, Green

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People have said that crimson is a more elite and sophisticated shade of red. This weekend when the men’s hockey team hits the road to take on the Harvard Crimson (3-1, 3-1 ECAC Hockey) and the Dartmouth Green (3-2, 2-2), it’ll be out to prove that it doesn’t need elitism to win and that red is truly the superior color.
“It’s a pretty big weekend,” said senior co-captain Raymond Sawada. “It’s really a big rivalry with Harvard but we’re going to treat them the same way we treat every weekend. We’re going to come in and play our own game like we did this past weekend.”
Heading into the competition this weekend with a three-game winning streak, the Red finally started to feel comfortable. Starting off the season with consecutive losses to RIT and Princeton proved to be a learning experience. However, the Red is firm in its conviction to keep working hard to improve despite its recent success.
“As far as chemistry and getting to know each other and going on the road was a good lesson for us,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “We’re obviously a long way away from being a finished product but I’ve seen progress in the first two weekends as far as getting better as a hockey team. That’s what you’re looking for as a coach is to see progress in all different areas of your game.”
The Red-Crimson rivalry is well known to any spectator who has ever graced the wooden stands in Lynah rink. To add fuel to the fire, the Crimson is currently on a three-game winning streak as well, with its two most recent victories being shutouts on home ice. A combination of a strong aggressive offense and sophomore goalie Kyle Richter, an ECAC Hockey Goalie of the week, has helped give the Crimson a strong start to the season. Still, when the Red step on the ice, previous records for both teams mean little in the face of such a longstanding rivalry.
“Obviously they play well defensively and are not giving up much,” Schafer said. “I think they’ve only given up 3 goals in league play and they’re special teams has been strong. You throw records out the window when the two teams play. We could both be 4-0 or both be 0-4 and the game is always going to be a good game, it’s going to be a competitive game. Our guys are excited. They’ve built some confidence on the road. It think its always easier in that rivalry to go on the road earlier in the year because you can be a little more patient and you’re not going to get as worked us if you were in front of our crowd. The crowd is great at home but it builds a sense of excitement that makes it tough to play calm. It’s a little bit easier to play calm on the road. “
Despite the excitement surrounding the Harvard contest, the Red can’t afford to overlook Saturday night’s game against Dartmouth. In practice the squad has spent plenty of time on special teams play, which plagued them early in the season. The Red’s ability to execute on the power play and the penalty kill will be a deciding factor in both contests this weekend. However, maintaining a high level of intensity, aggression, and focus will be the challenge for the squad tomorrow night.
“We’ve stayed a course as far as again breaking things down into simple one on ones and two on twos and breaking the systems down and becoming very detail oriented within the systems,” Schafer said. “We do that continuously throughout the course of the season. We never want to lose sight of the fundamentals of what makes a good hockey team. “
With an intimidating line consisting of junior Evan Barlow, sophomore alternate captain Colin Greening, and freshman Riley Nash starting to realize its potential, the Red is intent on continuing its winning streak by sweeping both teams this weekend and constantly improving its quality of play.
“We’re really gelling … Penalty kill is getting a lot smoother and power play is working a lot better,” said sophomore alternate captain Colin Greening. “It’s all part of the process of going through the year so it’s great that it happened so early on this season… Hopefully we can just keep it going into the Harvard Dartmouth weekend.”