February 13, 2009

M. Icers Head to New England

Print More

In its last four games, the No. 7 ranked men’s hockey team has gone just 1-2-1, scoring only four goals in that stretch. Head coach Mike Schafer ’86 and his players are looking to boost their offensive production this weekend, as the squad will travel to Dartmouth tonight and Harvard tomorrow for a pair of road games.
“We have to start getting some grimy goals,” Schafer said. “We have to start getting guys around the net. … We need to get pucks up to our blue line, get it down on the net, get a lot of traffic and put a lot of pressure on the defending teams to pick up around the crease. We need to try to generate more offense that way.”
Senior co-captain Colin Greening is not overly concerned by the Red’s recent lack of five-on-five scoring. He explains that if the Red (15-4-4, 10-3-3 ECAC Hockey) continues to create chances and play with intensity, then the goals will follow.
“I think we have definitely had our chances,” Greening explained. “That is part of hockey — sometimes they go in and sometimes they don’t. I think as long as we keep emphasizing shooting in practice, we will emphasize it in the game. A lot of the good scoring chances that we had — if you look at the Quinnipiac game or the Princeton game — hit the cross bar. Sometimes a quarter of an inch can be the difference between it going in or going out.”[img_assist|nid=35077|title=The flying “V”|desc=The men’s hockey team felt a slump on offense last weekend, but is looking to rebound against Harvard and Dartmouth on the road.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Tonight, the Red will be up against a Dartmouth team (12-8-3, 9-5-2) that is currently sitting in fourth in the ECAC Hockey standings and is ranked No. 19 in this week’s USCHO poll. Offensively, Dartmouth is led by a pair of underclassmen scorers — sophomore Adam Estoclet and freshman Doug Jones. Each has recorded 25 points in 23 games.
“[Dartmouth] is a good team,” said junior defenseman Brendon Nash. “They definitely move the puck well and like to play offense. But if we stick to our gameplan we definitely have a good chance of coming out with a win.”
The Green is backstopped by freshman goaltender Jody O’Neill, who has compiled a respectable 2.38 goals against average and .932 saves percentage. The Red will look to swarm the net to create more offensive chances, as it did in its 3-1 win over Dartmouth on Nov. 22.
“We just need to be all over them and hit them a lot,” Nash said. “We just need to get their pucks to the net. … Our forwards know what it takes to score. They definitely can dominate down low. They just have to make sure that when they get the pucks to the front of the net that they are battling as hard as they are in the corners and finish their chances.”
Tomorrow, Cornell will be in Cambridge, Mass., to face off against the Crimson (5-14-4, 5-7-4) for the 129th meeting in the always-heated rivalry. This year, Harvard has been struggling, as it is currently in fourth-to-last place in the ECAC Hockey. However, Greening notes that Harvard’s struggles in 2008-09 do not change the intense nature of the rivalry.
“We recognize that Harvard is a big rival of ours, but we pay no mind to how they have been doing this year,” Greening said. “Anybody can win any game at any time.”
Harvard has had severe trouble generating consistent offense this year. The Crimson’s leading goal-scorers are sophomore forward Pier-Olivier Michaud and senior forward Nick Coskren, who each have just six goals on the year. However, Schafer expects that Harvard will be pumped up and will come out firing for Saturday’s game.
“Any time that the teams meet, you throw the records out the window,” Schafer said. You know when you walk into Harvard [tomorrow], you are going to get their best effort.”
The Red was satisfied with its play for most of last weekend. However, the heartbreaking last-minute collapse against Princeton on Saturday tarnished a potential four-point weekend.
“We have a short memory. Coming out of the [Princeton] game, obviously, we are very upset, disappointed and angry,” Schafer said. “But I think you want to move on really quickly. As far as the team is concerned, you want to get rid of all those emotions of self-pity, anger and shock.”
Despite the late breakdown against the Tigers, the Red is taking some encouragement out of last weekend.
“We accomplished what we wanted to [last] weekend, and that is getting our edge back that had been missing from some of our games previously,” Schafer said. “We have that in practice right now, and we take that forward to the end of the year.”