November 10, 2011

M. HOCKEY | Rookies Take Lead as Cornell Faces Harvard, Dartmouth

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Two weeks have passed in the men’s hockey team’s 2011-12 campaign, and twice a member of the Red has secured ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week honors — a sign that this year’s squad is younger than the group that battled its way back to the conference championship game last season after struggling early. Freshman forward Brian Ferlin took home the hardware, recording five points in a weekend that saw the Red muster only two points at Yale and Brown. Ferlin’s stand-out performance comes on the heels of a three-point effort from freshman defenseman Joakim Ryan the week prior.“It’s awesome,” Ferlin said of receiving the award. “I don’t know if I quite expected that early in the season. I’m playing with [juniors John Esposito and Greg Miller], and we got off to a pretty hot start … Hopefully we can keep it rolling.”Cornell (1-2-0, 1-1-0 ECAC Hockey) hits the road once again for a two-game trip, beginning Friday at 7 p.m. against Harvard (0-1-1, 0-1-1), and concluding on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Hanover, N.H. at No. 14 Dartmouth (3-1-0, 2-0-0). The Red returns to Cambridge, Mass. for the first time since earning a close win over the rival Crimson, 2-1, on Jan. 29 — a crucial victory down the stretch that saw Cornell lose only once over the course of a 10-game period. Senior center and assistant captain Sean Collins, who has registered three points through Cornell’s first three contests, expects the team to play well at a crowded Bright Hockey Center.“We’re definitely looking forward to it,” Collins said when asked about the Red’s matchup with the Crimson. “It’s always an electric atmosphere down there at Harvard, and it’s a big weekend for us. We’re looking forward to Friday, and hopefully we can get four points this weekend.”Last weekend, the Red routed the top-ranked Yale Bulldogs, 6-2, in front of a full house at Ingalls Rink; however, the team was unable to provide a repeat performance the next evening, falling to Brown, 5-4, in a considerably quieter Meehan Auditorium in Providence, R.I.According to head coach Mike Schafer ’86, his young team needs to learn how to maintain its momentum from night to night, playing at a high level regardless of the atmosphere.“It was a highly contested game [against Yale],” Schafer said. “A lot of energy and emotion went into it and to get out of there and get into Brown at 1 a.m., and then you walk into the exact opposite environment. It was empty. We didn’t handle it very well.”The Crimson — entering Friday’s action with only one weekend under its belts — hosts the Red after losing its home opener to Princeton, 4-3, and playing to a tie, 2-2, against Quinnipiac. Cornell produced 14 goals in its first three contests, compared to Harvard’s five; however, sophomore goalie Andy Iles has surrendered 12 scores in just over 177 minutes of play.“The offense we’ve created hasn’t [resulted from] cheating defensively, so we hope that we continue to put up numbers that will allow us to win games,” Schafer said. “The defensive aspect is a work in progress … Character is always developed on the defensive side of the puck.”Harvard’s offense is led by senior forward Alex Killorn, who accounts for two of the team’s five goals through the first weekend of play. A second-team All-Ivy selection last season, Killorn notched a team-best 15 goals in his junior campaign.In goal, the Crimson feature a tandem of freshman Steve Michalek and sophomore Raphael Girard — with both net minders earning a start in the first weekend of the season. The duo takes over for recently graduated Kyle Richter — the source of much derision from the Lynah Faithful in the wake of a 2010 academic integrity violation — and Ryan Carroll.“We know Harvard is a skilled team — they’re big and physical,” Collins noted. The Red renews its color war with the Green on Saturday, with the teams set to meet for the first time since Cornell’s shutout victory, 3-0, in the ECAC semifinals on March 16. Dartmouth begins its third full week of regular season play against Colgate on Friday night, after securing victories against Quinnipiac, 5-4, and Princeton, 5-3, to open conference play. Dartmouth orchestrated consecutive come-from-behind victories against the Bobcats and Tigers, with junior forward Dustin Walsh leading the charge, recording five points in the two games. Walsh was awarded ECAC Player of the Week honors for his performance. Senior James Mello earned starts in all four of the Green’s games thus far, allowing 2.51 goals per game, while registering a .920 save percentage.While the Red lost its home meeting with Harvard last season, 4-3, the men’s hockey program enjoys an edge over the Crimson in the all-time series (77-56-5), and holds a substantial edge over the Green as well (73-43-3). That advantage in large part is due to Cornell’s dominance in its own rink, something the squad will look to replicate on the road this weekend.“A lot of times at Harvard there are more Cornell fans then there are Harvard fans, so it’s almost like another home game,” Collins said. “It’s always fun to go there … its an electric atmosphere, and we’re really looking forward to it.”

Original Author: Evan Rich