February 8, 2008

Men's Hockey Vies for Top Spot

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­­­­Sitting in sole possession of second place in the ECAC Hockey standings, the Red is gearing up to close the gap between itself and its first place rival, the Clarkson Golden Knights tonight at Cheel Arena. Tomorrow night the Red will travel to Appleton Arena to take on the St. Lawrence Saints, ranked No. 9 in the conference.
“We are trying to have a reality check with our guys right now,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “There is an old saying in sports that you’re never as good as you think you are, and you’re never as bad as you think you are. We want our guys to have that kind of model of it. When you play well and you lose you can’t beat yourself up mentally, and when you play well and win … you cant overcompensate and talk about how great your are. … It’s a fine line as a coach because we’re 3-0-1 over our last four games and we have to keep pushing and keep getting better.”[img_assist|nid=27523|title=Breaking away|desc=The Red takes on Clarkson and St. Lawrence back-to-back this weekend. The No. 2 team in the ECAC, Cornell hopes to gain on the No.1 team, Clarkson, with a win tonight.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The Red (11-7-3, 9-4-1 ECAC Hockey) battled the Golden Knights (15-9-2, 10-3-1) to a 3-3 tie in the Florida College Classic over winter break. Unfortunately, just a few weeks later the squad suffered a crushing, but eye-opening, 4-2 loss to Clarkson when the Golden Knights came to Lynah on Jan. 20. This weekend the stakes are dauntingly high, since the Red stands not only to lose to an arch rival, but also its shot at remaining in the top-2 in the conference. The Knights, who have just returned from an unsuccessful trip out west, will be anxious to rebuild their confidence and maintain their first-place spot, as well.
“We’ve played against Clarkson more than any team we’ve played in the ECAC, and it’s a really big rivalry to us,” said senior co-captain Topher Scott. “It really means a lot no matter how­­­­ many times we play them, when we play them, where we play them. We don’t like the fact that they came in here and beat us last time, that’s for sure. Especially being a big game, one versus two, it puts a little more fire onto it. Anytime we play Clarkson it’s a big game because we have a lot of respect for them, and they have a lot of respect for us. It will be good to go out and battle against them.”
The last time the Red and the Saints (9-13-4, 4-8-2) met, Cornell claimed a 3-1 victory at home. Although the St. Lawrence has not had a win its last five match-ups with Cornell, the Cornell players know not take this team for granted. With eight games to go in the season, every single contest counts and any team in the ECAC is a threat.
“We know they’re both two very capable teams and they both play hard so if we don’t come with our A games it will definitely be a battle,” said junior defenseman Jared Seminoff. “You have to go out there and play your best know matter what.”
Cornell has a young team, but everyone has made huge improvements as the season has progressed and the players know that this weekend is the time to show it off. Earlier in the season, the Red struggled to maintain consistent intensity and focus, but it proved last weekend against Colgate that it could play hard a full sixty minutes. This weekend, the squad will have to rise above the memory of their last loss to Clarkson and face both teams this weekend with an insatiable drive to win.
“I think the biggest thing, and I think we did a good job of it this weekend, is playing a full 120 minutes,” Scott said. “That’s been our biggest battle all year, just staying focused for the whole weekend. I think we took a big step last weekend, and hopefully we carry it out this weekend and in future games.”