February 20, 2009

Final Home Weekend Arrives for M. Icers

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Heading into its final two home games of the 2008-09 regular season, the men’s hockey team has lost three contests in a row to ECAC Hockey foes, its longest losing streak in a year. Also, the lauded Red defense gave up nine goals in two games last weekend. But the way the team is talking, one probably could not guess that it is seemingly in the middle of a late-season collapse.
Cornell’s (15-6-4, 10-5-3 ECAC Hockey) play in its last game, a 4-2 loss at Harvard, impressed head coach Mike Schafer ’86, and the general consensus on the team was that a few weird chances and bad bounces made the team’s 0-2-0 weekend record seem more lopsided than the contests. Heading into matchups with Rensselaer (7-21-2, 6-11-1) tonight and Union (15-13-2, 8-9-1) tomorrow, the players say they are playing some of their best hockey of the season.
“The puck bounces a few different ways and we’re sitting here with three straight wins,” Schafer said.
Indeed, it was an unusual weekend all around, as the Red lost in overtime to Dartmouth, 5-4, on a controversial goal that was initially waved off. The next night, Harvard toppled the visitors, 4-2, on the strength of four power play goals.
Still, the new-look Red offense, featuring new lines designed to balance out the scoring, generated chances all weekend, and Schafer is confident they can keep on rolling.[img_assist|nid=35391|title=Staredown|desc=Senior forward Evan Barlow is one of eight graduating seniors on the men’s hockey roster. All eight will be honored on Senior Night — the team’s last regular-season home game of the year — tomorrow.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“I thought that [sophomore forward Riley Nash] and [senior forward Evan Barlow] and [freshman forward Locke Jillson] had some offensive opportunities,” he said. “I thought they played well together. They’re all similar types of players, they’ve all got good instincts.”
By splitting up the line of Nash, Barlow and co-captain junior forward Colin Greening, Schafer distributed the team’s top scorers across more lines. He also upped the size on certain lines, creating “two, maybe three. really physical lines as we go down the stretch.”
The offense should get a boost from the return of senior forward and co-captain Michael Kennedy. Kennedy missed the team’s last four games and didn’t make the trip last weekend, but he has been skating in practice and expects to play for his last regular-season weekend at Lynah.
“Mike Kennedy looked pretty good,” Schafer said. “So we’re helping he’s good for this weekend. That’ll get us back into that depth, both offensively and defensively, that we haven’t had lately. You take out a guy that’s had eight goals since Christmas time, and it’s a big hit. It’ll be great to get him back because it just adds a whole different element to our hockey team.”
The Red is graduating eight seniors this year — goalies Troy Davenport and Dan DiLeo; defensemen Jared Seminoff and Taylor Davenport; and forwards Michael Kennedy, Evan Barlow, Tyler Mugford and Derek Punches — who will all be honored at Senior Night on Saturday.
“It’s hard to believe it’s here,” Kennedy said of his Senior Night. “It’ll be enjoyable if we get the win [on Senior Night]. We want to make sure we get two wins this weekend.”