The men’s hockey team will have a flashback to last season’s NCAA East Regional tournament as it opens up the 2010-11 season at home this weekend. Cornell made an earlier than expected exit from the tournament as it fell to the University of New Hampshire, 6-2, during the regional semifinal, which was eventually won by the Rochester Institute of Technology. The Red will first host UNH tonight for its season opener, before taking on RIT tomorrow. Both games will take place at Lynah Rink at 7 p.m.Going into tonight’s game, No. 15 Cornell is excited for its first opponent to be a highly ranked one with a strong team. No. 10 UNH (1-1-2) comes to Ithaca for its fifth game of the season, and the Red is ready to rise to the challenge.“UNH is obviously a good team, a good program, so when we scheduled them we knew right off the bat they’d be solid no matter what, they always are,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “We’ll find what we have, where our problem areas are, but we’ll also find out where our strengths are. I think it’s a test; if you don’t play strong programs and strong teams, you get a false sense of how good you are, what the pace is, how much time you have for plays or whatever it may be. The stronger the better, and we know we have two strong opponents this weekend.”Splitting its games against UNH last season, the Red is suiting up in white to take on its rival in hopes of continuing to lead its series with the Wildcats, which currently sits at a record in Cornell’s favor at 2-1-0.“I think there’s something to prove. We’re disappointed in how we played [in the NCAA tournament]. They played better, I think they obviously played better than they played up at UNH and we didn’t play as well. There was just a lot of disappointment from a lot of guys about how we played in that game and they took advantage of it; [they] did a great job of capitalizing on their chances, and they controlled the game. Even though we were four minutes from getting out of the second period with a 1-0 lead, they controlled that game and deserved to win it,” Schafer said.With questions of whether the Red is seeking payback, however, Schafer notes that Cornell cannot view the matchup as an opportunity to avenge the NCAA tournament’s results.“You can use whatever word you want –– payback, revenge, wanting to prove yourself. I think it’s hard to pay back when their team’s different and our team’s different. I think it’s more of an opportunity against a good program –– any chance you have against a good program is a chance to prove yourself and with no games under our belt we have something to prove, right from the first few weekends here, so revenge and payback … when the puck drops, that doesn’t even enter your mind. It might be [part of] the talk on the way in but not when you play. Payback is when you play an opponent like the NHL does four or five times and you have something to pay back, not when you played a team seven months ago,” Schafer said.After the short turnover, Cornell will face RIT (0-4-1). Although the current record doesn’t necessarily show RIT to be a huge threat to the nationally ranked host, Cornell still views last year’s East Regional champion as a contending team and will go into the game with just as much effort as it will tonight.“RIT’s off to a slow start, but they’re a team that was in the Frozen Four last year … We know they’ll be an older team [tomorrow] and they’ve [had] a lot of experience, a lot of good players,” Schafer said.Cornell obviously goes into both games with younger players in the starting lineup compared to last year. While transitioning to strong team chemistry amongst a new group of people always takes some time, the team feels as though it is already nearing to a good level of cohesive play.“I think those first two exhibition games kind of allowed the young guys to get those jitters out and all the nerves and what not. I think they have a pretty high level of confidence right now, which is a good thing; I think [tonight]’s going to be a good test for us,” said senior forward Patrick Kennedy.One of the newest additions to the roster is freshman goaltender Andy Iles. Iles started in goal on Saturday night during the exhibition matchup against the U.S. National U-18 team. Although Schafer has yet to determine who will start in net tonight, he noted that both goalies are strong players with great ability, and will both prove their capabilities to be good Division I goalies throughout the rest of the season. This decorated Halloween weekend opener will certainly prove to be a test for all members on Red’s roster in front of its Lynah Faithful fans, which both players and staff alike are looking forward to.
Original Author: Reena Gilani