March 7, 2008

Red Hopes to Follow Up on Decisive Win

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Any yearly event that allows a guy to shove his Gillette razor in the back of the drawer is probably cause for excitement, but the first round of ECAC playoff hockey means more than just a playoff beard to the men’s hockey team. Without a first-round bye and one less week to grow some facial fuzz, the Red will start off a best-of-three series against Dartmouth at Lynah Rink tonight.
“It’s playoff time, obviously its going to be fast and hard-nosed,” said sophomore alternate captain Colin Greening. “It’s a whole new season for everyone here. We always work to get to this point but in reality it really doesn’t mean anything because when it comes tonightt everyone is on the same page. It will be fast but it will be playoff hockey, so it will be a lot of fun.”
No, you aren’t experiencing a startling case of déjà vu. The Green traveled to East Hill last Friday and suffered a crushing (6-0) loss to the Red. Despite the decisive victory, the Red knows that now that the regular season is over, it’s a whole new brand of hockey and anything can happen. Last week, the Red succeeded in shutting down Dartmouth’s special teams and effectively silencing every offensive effort by the top scoring forwards for the Green: J.T. Clymen and Nick Johnson. This weekend the Red knows who to look for on the ice and is preparing to keep them out of the game as much as possible.
“They both have a lot of skill if you watch some of the plays they make,” said senior alternate captain Doug Krantz. “You really have to play them honest, play them straight up because they can make you look silly if you aren’t ready for it. … They’ll be right at the top of our list of guys we are trying to shut down and keep off the score sheet.”
Although last week’s shutout inspires some confidence in the Red, the team is prepared to take on a Green squad with something to prove. Still, after losing a first-round bye to the quarterfinals, the Red feels it has even more to prove to its fans and, to itself. Although an extra week off would have been a nice break, the squad has put a positive spin on it by pointing out that the team is relatively healthy this year and they definitely won’t be feeling lethargic from too much time off. With the right motivation and attitude in place, the team is bringing a lot of intensity its first playoff contest.
“I think of all the years that we’ve had the bye, we really needed it physically,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “For us this year, it hasn’t had that big of an impact because we are healthy. Everybody is able to go, everybody is healthy, ready to play. On the flip side of it, I also know that the advantage of playing this weekend means going into the next weekend you’re already battle-tested and you are already kind of in playoff mode. Our players are well aware of the pluses and minuses and they know we have to get through this weekend and go onto the following weekend. They’re ready to play.”
Ideally, the squad would like to win the series in two games, preventing a third matchup on Sunday. However, the players, old and young, realize that focus has never been more important. Last week, the Red succeeded in shutting down Dartmouth’s special teams and effectively silencing every offensive effort for a full 60 minutes. If the team can maintain that level of dominance against the Green tonight and tomorrow night, it will feel like déjà vu for them, as well.