November 13, 2008

M. Icers Hit Road for Rivalry Game

Print More

The men’s hockey team will take a quick trip upstate to Hamilton, N.Y., tonight for a rare weekday matchup against instate rival Colgate at Starr Rink at 7:30 p.m. The Red has not allowed a goal in its last two games, a 1-0 win over Princeton last Friday afternoon and a scoreless tie against Quinnipiac on Saturday, and is ranked 14th in the nation in the latest USA Hockey/USA Today poll.
The teams met three times last season, and Cornell won all three matchups.
Colgate (4-2, 1-1 ECAC Hockey) is also coming off two close, low-scoring games — a 1-0 win over Quinnipiac off of a power play goal by sophomore Francois Brisebois in the third period on Friday, and a 2-1 overtime loss to Princeton on Saturday. It’s no surprise that Colgate’s win came on the man advantage; the Raiders typically sport one of the best special teams units in the country, and 2008-09 is no different.
[img_assist|nid=33558|title=Teach an old dog new tricks|desc=Senior co-captain Michael Kennedy (18) and freshman Sean Collins (12) both play forward for the Red, a group which has struggled to score recently.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Colgate has converted on seven of 33 power play opportunities, good for a No. 8 national ranking in the category. The Raider penalty kill is on a streak of 26 successfully stopped power play attempts and has allowed just one goal in 34 chances, second in the country.
“They always do such a great job of having good special teams,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “They typically have good power play and penalty kill [units]. Those things don’t change much from time to time with their team.”
With an offense that has had trouble scoring lately, the Red will need to take advantage of its chances against Colgate. According to senior co-captain Colin Greening, the offense is creating opportunities but having trouble sealing the deal with a goal.
“I would definitely say it is a matter of finishing,” Greening said. “It’s more or less about just kind of bearing down, putting the puck in the back of the net, and finishing our chances.”
Senior co-alternate captain Tyler Mugford — his four career tallies making him not the usual suspect to finish around the goal — scored the Red’s lone goal in league play this season off of a pass from classmate Jared Seminoff. Despite the low offensive output, the Red is in fourth place in the ECAC on the young season, largely thanks to superb play from the defense and junior goalie Ben Scrivens.
“It’s huge,” said Scrivens of the confidence gained by posting two consecutive shutouts to open the season. “I don’t know if you can start a season off better than that. I’m really happy and thankful for the guys playing well in front of me. Unfortunately, I am getting a lot of the attention when a lot of the attention should be going to guys in front of me for the way that they played too.”
All the same, the team knows it must get its forwards in a groove quickly before the defense’s hot streak runs out.
“If you can’t put the puck in the back of the net at least a couple times a game, it is going to be really hard for you to go far,” Greening said.
Brisebois leads the Raider offense this season with six points off of four goals and two assists. Sophomore Brian Day has scored five goals on the season. Junior Chris Long has been manning the goal for Colgate following the departure of Mark Dekanich.
The home-and-home series between Colgate and Cornell is one of the highlights of the Raiders’ hockey season — Cornell players say that the atmosphere at both rinks makes for one of the most exciting weekends of the year.
“They always play us tough,” said senior co-captain Michael Kennedy. “We are one of their main rivals, and we know that they are going to be ready to play. So we will have to be ready as well.”
Schafer also recognized the intensity of the series.
“They will be extremely fired up over there at Colgate,” he said. “It is a big game for them. It is their biggest game of the year in their rink, so they will be very, very emotional.”