January 16, 2013

MEN’S ICE | Red Prepares For ECAC Competition

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Coming off back-to-back losses at Denver, the Red is gearing up for ECAC conference

play beginning with Union and Rensselaer Polytechnic this weekend. By the end of the team’s road trip against the defending conference champion No. 17 Dutchmen (10-7-4, 4-3-3 ECAC) and Engineers (6-10-5, 1-6-3), the No. 16 Red (7-6-2, 3-3-2) will have completed a stretch of six consecutive games away from Lynah dating back to December. Cornell faces Union at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 18 and then RPI on Saturday at the same time.

During the break in conference play, the Red traveled to Florida to battle Ferris State and Maine, and then trekked west for a double-header at the University of Denver. The team is currently preparing up for its first action in almost two weeks.

“We’re trying to focus on everything: our penalty killing and our special teams, all the details of all of our systems from breakouts to controlled breakouts to forechecks to everything that we do,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “[W]e’ve really been getting detailed oriented. At the same time we’ve really been working on our compete level, our battle level … to get our possession of loose pucks. Every detail we have in the game of our hockey … we’ve hit over the last two weeks.”

Sophomore forward Joel Lowry, who scored the Red’s lone goal in a 2-1 defeat at Denver, echoed his coach’s enthusiasm. “I think our out-of-conference schedule [was] difficult but every single game in ECAC hockey is difficult too,” Lowry acknowledged.

“We have a really deep league and it’s tough to get wins. Every single team plays hard every night in our conference. I think those out-of-conference games, especially the ones that we came up on the short end of, really [make] the in-conference games more important. I think we’re just going to have a lot of emphasis going forward on … getting some wins [in] … the games we do have left and making them count.”

A 3-3-2 conference record puts the Red in sixth place in the ECAC with fourteen games to go. Although the team has had some difficulty on the road this season, holding a 1-4 record in away contests, the Red is 4-1-2 when playing within the confines of Lynah rink.

“I think that if we were to follow a great formula from here on in we’d want to split our games on the road right now and win all our games at home,” Schafer said. “[T]hat’d put us at 10-4 [in remaining ECAC games]—that’d be the kind of record we’d want going down the stretch. And the kind of hockey we want to play, we got to play it very well to accomplish that.”

If the Red hopes to make a run in ECAC, the team will probably need Lowry to provide a spark on offense.

“[Lowry] brings that physical element to our team and plays with an edge,” Schafer noted. “Combined with the goals he’s been scoring, but also staying out of the penalty box, he’s done a tremendous job of being more disciplined this year as he scores goals.”

“I think we’ve just been trying to keep it simple it up front, play together, get pucks deep, make better plays at the offensive blue line, make sure we’re controlling the puck, and just trying to get to the net as much as possible,” Lowry responded when asked how the team plans to get back on track. “I think when you get pucks and bodies to the net obviously you create chances. I think that’s how we got our goal in the second [Denver] game. We haven’t been having a lot of puck luck but I think if keep doing those things—keep working on them in practice—things will start to turn around.”

Following two long weeks of rest and review, the Red seems prepared to pick up its first road victory since the ECAC opener against Colgate.

“[T]he team is focused,” Schafer said. “The games out [in Denver] were good games—we probably played better there than we played at [Colorado College] last year and unfortunately we came out with no points … [T]he practice and being at home has, I think, re-energized us and refocused us and we’re ready to get into the grind of our schedule with fourteen games to go from here until the end of the year. We know it’s going to be very tough but we’re ready to handle things.”

Original Author: Chris Mills