November 18, 2010

Men’s Hockey Hosts Yale, Brown

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After an action-packed home weekend that saw Cornell dominate Quinnipiac and fall just short against Princeton, the men’s ice hockey team will again host at Lynah this weekend, welcoming Yale and Brown for a pair of Ivy League games. Things kick off tonight at 7 p.m. with the Red taking the ice against the Bulldogs, and will continue tomorrow night at 7 p.m. when the Bears make the trip to East Hill.

Cornell (2-4-0, 2-2-0 ECAC) is coming off a weekend of mixed results and will be facing a No. 5 Yale (5-1-0, 2-0 ECAC) team that is in much the same position after its road trip to Colorado last weekend saw the team destroy Colorado College 5-1, before falling to Air Force by a score of 4-3.  Brown (1-2-1, 0-1-1 ECAC) is still winless in conference play and will be looking to get its first ECAC victory against the young Cornell squad if it cannot beat fellow cellar-dweller Colgate tonight.

It will be an uphill battle for the Red when it hits the ice in a few hours. The Bulldogs have completely and utterly dismantled all of their competition this year –– the noted exception being the Air Force squad –– already notching a total of 33 goals in only six matches.

“They’re great in transition, they get up and down the ice, their forwards make plays and they’re the kind of team … that if you let them get in behind you, they’re going to hurt you,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “I think their greatest strength is that they have guys that … will get the puck in the back of the net.”

While the Red knows that the Bulldogs will be a real test, the players maintain that, when push comes to shove, they will still be able to take down the only top-10 team in the ECAC.

“They’re a highly respected team nationally,” said junior defenseman Sean Whitney, “but as long as we come out ready to play, especially in front of these fans, I think we’re a tough team to beat just like Yale is.”

Look for the tempo in this game to pick up quickly, as Yale’s high-flying offense will be looking to make a statement against the Cornell defense –– typically one of the best in the ECAC, if not the nation –– and atone for the team’s embarrassing break down in Colorado Springs; Yale lead the Falcons, 3-0, into the beginning of the third, when Air Force scored four unanswered goals to send the Bulldogs back to New Haven with their tails between their legs.

Tomorrow Cornell will look to add another chapter to its recent domination of Brown.  Last year the Red met the Bears three times, outscoring Brown, 14-3, and taking all three contests, with the last victory sending Cornell to the ECAC Championship Game against Union.

“I know that Brown … is trying to play kind of like we are: frustrate guys, get above guys,” Whitney said.  “It’s going to be fun, kind of a mirror game, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it a trap game.  I think it will be a close game; it’ll be a low-scoring one or a high-scoring one. It seems like it’s never really in-between. I know that any team in this league is a tough test.”

While the Bears’ record leaves them trailing all teams but the Raiders in the ECAC, when examined more closely it is clear that Brown’s record does not do it justice. While the Bears are currently 1-2-1, all of their games have been decided by one goal or less, with the exception being its 7-4 loss to the Bulldogs. That said, in that same game Brown scored the four goals against Yale, the most anyone has put into the Bulldogs’ net in New Haven this year.

Look for the Bears to show up to this match hungry, regardless of whether or not they beat Colgate tonight. While Brown, much like Cornell, is still finding its path, these early results show that the Bears could be serious this year and almost nothing would make people take them seriously more than a convincing victory at Lynah, traditionally one of the toughest places to play in the ECAC.

While Lynah has, in the past, usually given the Red quite the edge over its opponents, this year’s team has responded much better on the road.

“With this team, I would rather play eight games on the road and two at home,” Schafer said. “People think you’re crazy, but there’s a mentality you develop by being on the road, you don’t have to appease anybody except for yourselves. You think about going out there [at Lynah], how much these guys want to please –– they want to please 4,300 screaming fans, they want to win so bad. The tradition on campus, the crowd, the excitement –– you get away from that … on the road. It’s not a calming effect, but you can really just settle in and focus on what you’re doing.”

“You have … an obligation. When you lose here, at home, you feel like you kind of let the fans down, but when you win … you feel lucky to have the fans behind you,” Whitney said.  “I wouldn’t say it’s harder to play in front of our fans, it’s definitely a privilege that you can’t take for granted, but you definitely feel some sort of an obligation to please them, because there’s nothing like hearing them scream at their loudest, it’s fun. Hopefully we can do that this weekend.”

Original Author: Zach Waller