November 7, 2008

M. Icers Open Season Against Defending Champ Princeton

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Although the hockey team is the last Division I program to begin its regular season, the Red will do so in impressive fashion, facing off against the reigning ECAC champion Princeton Tigers today at 4 p.m. — the earlier start time is due to the fact that the Red’s season debut will be nationally televised on ESPNU. Tomorrow evening, Cornell will complete its weekend road trip against Quinnipiac.
The Tigers (1-0-0, 0-0-0 ECAC Hockey) swept the season series last year against the Red (0-0-0, 0-0-0), but Cornell is excited to finally face an opponent in a different uniform, according to senior co-alternate captain Tyler Mugford.
“We’re very excited,” Mugford said. “It’s been a long road to get to this game. It feels like we’ve been practicing here against each other forever, so it will actually be nice to get out there and play a meaningful game against a tough opponent. By all means, Princeton works hard, they’re very tough, they’re very thorough in their play both defensively and offensively, but we can’t wait to get on that bus and play that game in Princeton.”
Taming the Tigers on their home ice will present a formidable challenge for the Red, as Princeton was selected ninth nationally in both the USA Today and polls. The league champions are lead by junior forward Mark Magnowski, who was named the ECAC Hockey Player of the Week after scoring two goals, including the game-winner in the team’s victory over Brown.
“Obviously Princeton was the media and coaches’ No. 1 pick in the [ECAC],” said head coach Mike Schafer ‘86. “They’ve got a lot of returning guys, a lot of experience, they play a very high-tempo game, and they’ll be a really good challenge for us right off the get-go. But, at the same time I thought we had a really good game near the end of the year last year against them down there even though we didn’t win the game. I thought we had a lot of scoring chances and opportunities to win the hockey game and we have to follow the same kind of game plan as far as taking away the middle of the ice on them and transition when we get our opportunities.”[img_assist|nid=33396|title=Mugging for the cameras|desc=|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The high-powered offensive attack of Quinnipiac (2-2-0, 0-0-0) is led by junior forward Brandon Wong and senior forward Bryan Leitch. Wong paced the Dutchmen in 2007 with 37 points.
“Quinnipiac has got some really skilled players also,” Schafer said. “They return a couple of guys that were in the top-10 in scoring in our league. They’re very gifted especially on special teams, and there’s a lot of special teams [play] early in the year. I think the key is to go down and stay disciplined and make sure that we’re getting more power plays than we have to kill. Early in the year if we can do that, we give ourselves a better opportunity to win.”
Freshman forward Spencer Heichman has already made an immediate impact for Quinnipiac, accumulating two goals and three assists in the team’s first four contests. Heichman was also named the ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week.
“They’re pretty quick,” said senior assistant captain Jared Seminoff. “They’re not overly large, but they’re definitely a quick team, so we have to be on our toes, be ready to move our feet, and play our game.”
“They’re always good,” Mugford said. “They’re highflying and a little bit more offensive. It will be a different game than Princeton, but it will be nice to get out there and play back-to-back games. Hopefully, we’ll come out with two wins and play our best for 120 minutes. The goal is to play 120 minutes of good hockey over the weekend.”