Bipolar or Bi-winning? Although the men’s hockey team miraculously pulled out an overtime win on Sunday night to earn the victory in the best-of-three series against Quinnipiac, it doesn’t take a hockey fanatic to notice our performance this weekend was as erratic as Two and a Half Men co-star Charlie Sheen.
On one hand, there were amazing displays of talent that captivated the crowd, such as the game-opening goals from senior co-captains Joe Devin and Patrick Kennedy on Friday and Sunday night, respectively. On the other, we saw a mediocre team who struggled with creating offensive pressure, failed to convert 10-of-11 power-play opportunities and went four straight periods without scoring.
The Red’s Achilles heel this series, and much of the season for that matter, was its ability to control the puck and set up scoring chances. The 2-1-2 forecheck formation that coach Mike Schafer ’86 prescribes for his team requires strong and agile forwards. Unfortunately, our fastest skaters this year were not able to consistently break the puck away from opposing defensemen as well as the likes of Colin Greening ’10 or Joe Scali ’10.
Time after time, we saw no strategic coordination even if the team was able to control the puck in the offensive zone. I do not even remember the last time the Red scored from a back-door shot — Harvard did it three times this year when it came to Ithaca. Most of the time, it seemed like players did not know where their teammates were. If I had a dollar for every time there was an unprovoked missed pass this season, I would probably be fully reimbursed for all the money I spent on home and away game tickets.
However, the outcomes on any given night in the ECAC have been more unpredictable than usual, and the Red’s lackluster performance was somewhat caused by the inconsistency of its opponents as well. The No. 9 ranked Union lost its quarterfinals series to Colgate, a team that finished last in points at the end of the regular season. Commenting on Yale’s surprise flunk to St. Lawerence Friday, Hockeyplayer1015 summed up what it has been like in a USCHO.com forum post: “As is almost the story in every ECAC game, hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
This is especially true for Cornell, considering how the Red has reacted to different opponents of varying quality throughout the season. Take our 3-2 loss to Brown for example. The Bears fell to the Bobcats last week in a pair of 4-0 shutouts, yet it swept the Red this season — the first time Brown was able to do so since 1995.
Looking at the road ahead, although the Raiders’ Cinderella wins steered us clear of the Bulldogs and the Dutchmen for our first matchup in Atlantic City, N.J., there is not much clarity in the Red’s playoff chances at this point. Considering that many pundits have disregarded this year’s squad as a .500 team, it was comforting to walk back to the parking garage knowing that we still have a pretty decent chance at the Whitelaw Cup.
Despite the men’s shaky performance, the women’s team proved once again why it is ranked No. 2 nationally in front of a packed Lynah Rink on Saturday afternoon. After a 14-year draught of title wins, the back-to-back ECAC championships and Frozen Four appearances are undoubtedly a great credit to coach Doug Derraugh’s ’91 remarkable revival of the program. Not only did they upstage the 3-0 win last weekend with a 7-1 blowout, but 12 of the 18 skaters also earned positive plus-minus ratios during the Dartmouth rematch, which further confirmed the strength and consistency of the entire team.
Although both teams registered a comparable number of shots, the quality of Cornell’s shots were definitely better because the Red effectively shut down the Green’s offense with its relentless pursuit after the puck. Forwards Rebecca Johnson and Chelsea Karpenko were always down at the opposing end, breaking up passes and creating scoring opportunities. Compared to the men, it was night and day. Oftentimes the blue-liners stayed on the top of the faceoff circles, which gave them a wider angle at the goal. Yet the defenders were still able to keep the puck in and recover successfully against breakaways. Maybe there is something to be learned by Schafer and Co. if they intend to make more frequent NCAA appearances.
For now, The Faithful should celebrate after attending four games in three days and emerging as victors; however, what we have seen from the men are not marks of a true champion — they are signs of the callow youth. Despite his whimsical lifestyle, at least Mr. Sheen has a good chance of reaching a settlement for his $100 million lawsuit against CBS. #Winning. But for the Red? Collecting that trophy might be tougher than it looks.
Original Author: Andrew Hu