November 8, 2012

M. HOCKEY | Red Hits Trails, Hopes to Add to ECAC Record

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The No. 4/4 Red is off to its best start since 2008, as the team has yet to be defeated. Cornell (3-0-1, 1-0-1 ECAC) is one of two remaining teams in the division with an unbeaten record. However, this streak will be tested, as the Red hits the road this weekend to face ECAC competition at Princeton (0-2-0) and Quinnipiac (3-3-1).

“I think we’re all excited,” said junior goaltender Andy Iles. “It’s fun to play on the road — it’s awesome to play here but it’s fun because it really shows who you are as a team and what kind of character you have because its tough. It’s a grind on the road, it’s a lot easier at home when you have your fans rooting for you and your fans there to support you.”

Being able to record two wins on a road trip are a mark of a strong team, according to Iles.

“Good teams are the teams that can go on the road and get three or four points and it will be a big test this weekend playing two good teams,” he said.

Cornell will face Princeton at Hobey Baker Rink on Friday at 7 p.m., and then travel to Quinnipiac’s TD Bank Sports Center the following night for a 7 p.m. puck drop.

“Their teams are very, very hard working,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “Princeton had a lot of injuries last year as a hockey team, and we know who their best players are. [Junior forward] Andrew Calof and [senior] defenseman [Michael] Sdao are very, very good players, so they have always had a good power play with those two guys. Quinnipiac is loaded, coming back with a lot of guys on defense. But it shows you how tough a league it is [because] Colgate beat them 5-1 in a game that was … a 1-1 game going into the third period. So both games are going to be extremely difficult.”

This marks the team’s first full weekend on the road, as last week the Red only played away for one night at Colgate, before returning back to Lynah for game two of the annual home-home series.

“I think it’s always good to get on the road and play,” Schafer said. “You learn a lot about yourself. We learned a lot about ourselves over at Colgate where we didn’t play exceptionally well. They really had us on our heels and in that game we found a way to win and I think that’s a value. Talent is that you can’t be perfect any day and you have to learn how to be successful and I thought the guys did that this weekend.”

Cornell’s undefeated streak was at risk this past weekend — Colgate took a 2-0 lead in the Saturday match-up; however, the Red was able to come back and tie the game at two-all.

“It says a lot about what a good team we have … It was nice to see that we could pull that off at the end of the third there and it was huge for our confidence,” said junior forward Dustin Mowry. “Now we know we can do that, but we want to stay out of those situations of course.”

According to Iles, although the players were disappointed not to have come away with a win, this was a valuable learning experience for the team.

“On one hand it’s a little disappointing because we set out at the start of the weekend to get four points,” he said. “But we learned to come from behind this weekend, and that’s important, especially early on in the year. And now we know we can do that and we fought hard in that third period and so it was definitely a positive takeaway from it.”

Schafer discussed how he is using the game time experiences in practice to help the team grow stronger.

“We addressed a lot of issues that we thought were missing in our game, from face off, intensity, to work ethic,” he said. “As far as going back to retrieve pucks to the importance of not just the center winning face-offs, but our wingers and defensemen having jumped before the puck hit the ice, just a lot of little things … [It’s] about discipline.”

Each week, the Red is using its experiences to help improve its game and attempt to continue on its undefeated path.

“We’ve been working on executing, getting out of the zone better,” Mowry said. “Colgate kind of taught us a lesson where they fore-check really hard and they gave us some trouble, so we’ve been working on our break out and what not.”

According to the junior forward, a weekend away will also offer the team a chance to spend quality time together.

“It will be nice to get on the road away from Ithaca for a little team bonding, so we’re looking forward to it,” Mowry said. “It’s nice to be on the road, to play a little different type of hockey … In a sense [there is] less pressure playing in front of a different crowd.”

Original Author: Dani Abada