November 30, 2007

M. Hockey Finishes Semester Against UMass

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The men’s hockey team just can’t get Massachusetts off its mind. For the third straight week, Cornell will play a team from the Bay State as it faces off tonight against No. 11 UMass at Lynah Rink. It will be the first home game for the Red since Nov. 3 and the last game for the squad before a four-week break.
“The white helmets look weird on our guys in practice this week,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “It’s been a long time [since playing at home], but the biggest thing is we got to come in with that mentality, have the same kind of mentality we had when we traveled to Harvard and Yale, Brown and Dartmouth.”
Cornell (4-4-0, 4-2-0 ECAC Hockey) will look to rebound from a 6-3 loss to B.U. at Madison Square Garden last Saturday night. In front of a sold-out crowd, the Red gave up three early first-period goals and was never able to recover. The team is hoping to quickly forget that game and instead focus on tonight’s contest.
“You got to have a short-term memory, especially after games like that where a lot of things didn’t go our way,” said senior co-captain Topher Scott.
“I think that we had a real good four-game road trip, and the players are disappointed and we are disappointed with what happened at Madison Square Garden,” Schafer said. “At the same time, it’s a learning opportunity. We talked about learning from our mistakes in that game. So many saw the game, there are so many what ifs. … You are fighting from behind the whole evening.”
Prior the B.U. game, Cornell had won four of its previous five contests since opening the season with two straight losses. Getting back in the win column will not be easy, though. UMass (6-3-4, 3-2-4 Hockey East) is the highest-ranked team that Cornell has faced so far this season. The Minutemen play a fast brand of hockey and are led by star freshman James Marcou, who leads the team with eight assists and 11 points. Sophomore Justin Braun is second on the squad with nine points and classmate Will Ortiz has been a goal-scoring force so far, picking up a team-high six tallies.
“They are very, very fast,” Schafer said. “[Head coach Don Cahoon] is a very intense man, and they take the personality of their coach. They will work very hard, but I assume that they will be one of the faster teams that we play this year from their team speed standpoint.”
Against such a fast team, Cornell will try to control the pace of the game.
“I don’t think you change your approach game-by game really, just minor things that the coach will point out, but overall you just try to play your game out there,” said sophomore Brendon Nash. “Hopefully they will have to adapt to what we play.”
The offense will attempt to put the puck past sophomore Dan Meyers, who has only played in two games this year after suffering an injury earlier in the season. In his place, freshman Paul Dainton posted a 2.30 goals against average and a .920 save percentage, but Meyers returned in UMass’s 5-2 win last weekend over Union and has retaken his starting spot.
“They just recently tied and beat Boston College,” Schafer said. “They beat Boston University. So our guys are aware of the challenge coming up this weekend. But it gets back to us. We need to play our game and be very thorough in our systems and be committed to it and think in order for us to have any success.”
Cahoon is no stranger to Cornell, as he coached Princeton from 1991 to 2000. In addition, he has spent three separate stints as an assistant coach under Jack Parker, coach of B.U.
“He is very good friends with Jack Parker, so I’m sure that they will share notes and I wouldn’t be surprised if they obviously talk about what B.U. had success with against us” Schafer said.
The two squads have only met six times in history and have not faced each other since the 1995-1996 season, which was Schafer’s first as head coach. Prior to the home-and-home series that Cornell swept that year, the two teams had not played since the 1959-1960 campaign.