January 18, 2008

M. Icers Win Three Over Break

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This Winter Break, the state of Florida turned out to be the site of a preview on ice between two college hockey teams from New York state. In the contest, the consolation game of the Florida College Classic, the men’s hockey team tied Clarkson, 3-3. The two ECAC opponents will play each other again this Sunday at Lynah Rink, two days after a match with St. Lawrence.
The previous matchup against Clarkson was played one night after Cornell lost, 3-2, to UMass-Lowell in the first round of the tournament, which was the Red’s first game in almost one month. In that game, Cornell jumped out to a 3-0 lead entering the second intermission on goals by junior Michael Kennedy and freshmen Patrick Kennedy and Riley Nash. However, the Red could not sustain its advantage, and the Knights reeled off three straight goals, including a shorthanded game-tying goal by sophomore Matt Beca. While the teams officially skated to a 3-3 tie, Cornell won a shootout to make the Red the tournament’s third-place winner.
“Going into the consolation game in Florida, we weren’t quite certain what their systems were going to be like,” said sophomore co-alternate captain Colin Greening. “We know that they are a very fast team. You kind of get a good sense … going into the game on Sunday what kind of game they are going to play. You get used to their players, their top players like Nick Dodge. It is a bit of an advantage having played that game for us, but it is also an advantage for them because the other way, they get to know our systems.”
Coming off the tournament, Cornell went 3-1-0 over the rest of Winter Break, losing its final game to league rival Union, 2-1. The team came back home for a two-game, non-conference tilt with Niagara, where the story of the weekend was the play of Michael Kennedy. Kennedy scored three goals and notched three assists over the two games, helping the Red to 6-0 and 4-3 wins.
The team tried to continue the momentum of the Niagara series last weekend on the road against Rensselaer and Union. Cornell topped Rensselaer, 2-1, helped by goals by Michael Kennedy and senior co-captain Topher Scott. Against Union, junior Matt Cook broke a 1-1 tie to clinch the victory for the Dutchmen.
“I think we really progressed a lot [over winter break],” Greening said. “We had our ups and downs in Florida. We came back and had a really strong weekend versus Niagara. We had that 6-0 win. … I thought we played well against RPI then [against] Union, we kind of let down a little bit. It has been a little up and down, but I think overall we have certainly progressed and we are having a lot better flow to our game and reading off each other.”
“Last weekend was a frustrating weekend,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “It was funny, the two games, we didn’t play very well in the first against RPI, and then we came back and I thought took control of the game. … Against Union I thought we had control of the game, and we didn’t give them a whole lot. … It was a 1-1 game and we didn’t continue to play the way we needed to play, the way we started the game, to keep control of the game, so it was opposite nights. We started well on Saturday and lost the game, and we didn’t start well Friday night and won the game.”
All this leads to this weekend’s rematch with Clarkson, as well as a contest tonight with St. Lawrence. Both games are crucial in the ECAC standings; St. Lawrence sits tied with Cornell in sixth place and Clarkson is currently in third. However, the Red has played less league games than both opponents.
The Clarkson game is on Sunday afternoon because it will be shown nationally on ESPNU. This is an unusual circumstance for the team, which usually plays on Saturday night.
“I think that is probably one of the biggest differences, that you are out of that routine,” Schafer said. “I think players, coaches, fans alike get in that routine of what time to wake up, what time to come to the rink, what time to take their nap, eat, and everything else. … Once it hits two hours before game time, the routine is the same.”