A high-profile matchup against the nation’s No. 2 team and a dominating performance against an Ivy foe turned into another nightmare for the Red, whose losing streak now stands at seven straight games.
Cornell (8-13-2, 4-10-2 ECAC) was unable to upset conference-leading and No. 2 Quinnipiac (21-3-4, 14-0-2) in a 4-1 loss Friday at Lynah. The Red later fell in a 1-0, gut-wrenching thriller to Princeton (9-10-4, 7-6-3) on Saturday. Cornell is currently 11th in the ECAC, ahead of only Harvard (5-15-1, 3-12) in the conference standings.
“I’m proud of our guys,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86 following the Princeton game. “I don’t know when this [losing skid] is going to turn. It’s to the point where it’s almost comical — that you could generate that many scoring chances and get that many opportunities and [not score].
For Schafer, though, his team is still performing the way he expects.
“[A]s a coach, all I can ask for is the things that we’ve been doing and to keep plugging away and not get frustrated. It’s tough to get that many scoring chances and [not come away with a win],” he said.
The Red outshot Princeton 39-12 on Saturday and had a 9-0 shot-on-goal advantage in the third period. Junior forward Andrew Ammon broke the scoreless tie early into the second, however, with a shot that ricocheted off the post to give the Tigers a decisive 1-0 lead. The Red maintained a high level of aggression, pumping up the Lynah crowd while only accumulating a total of three penalties. Still, despite a flurry of near misses in the game’s final minute, Cornell was unable to send the game into overtime in what was Schafer’s 600th career game as coach of the Red.
“Look at the shot chart — it looks like a cluster bomb went off in front of [the Princeton] net,” Schafer said.
The Red had ample opportunities on net, but was unable to connect.
“[I]t’s pretty frustrating … We hit a couple posts, had so many chances — obviously outshot them by a lot,” said sophomore defenseman Joakim Ryan, who, along with senior defenseman Nick D’Agostino, generated plenty of pressure by playing up from the defensive end. “It’s frustrating, but we played our hearts out tonight and we left everything out there. And every guy in the room can say that — can look themselves in the mirror and say they played their hearts out — so [you] can’t ask [for] much more than that.”
Against No. 2 Quinnipiac on Friday, the Bobcats struck early on a wrister from senior forward Mike Dalhuisen that rattled through the legs of junior goalie Andy Iles. Quinnipiac struck again during a second-period power play to take a 2-0 advantage and notched a third goal to open the final period. Senior forward Greg Miller put the Red on the board late, but Quinnipiac put the game on ice with an empty-netter to make the final score 4-1 in favor of the Bobcats.
“Quinnipiac doesn’t give up many scoring chances,” Schafer said.
Although both weekend games ended with the same result, the atmosphere in Lynah became electric Saturday night as the Red flipped the switch, generating constant pressure on the Princeton net. Despite not coming away with the win, Schafer said he appreciated the team’s effort and the high-intensity environment.
“We need our fans,” Schafer said. “This is the first time we’ve gotten our fans involved in the game [since] the Yale game. We need our fans to help carry us. We need to play that kind of hockey in order to keep them excited. The fans appreciate the kind of effort that was given [Saturday, including] blocking shots. I heard the fans cheering for Greg Miller to go down and block a shot. Those are the small victories that we’ve got to claim for ourselves and plug away and keep on going, and come out the other side [as a] better team, better players, [and] better coaches.”
Though the team’s frustration during this losing streak is evident, sophomore forward Brian Ferlin said he feels that the promising effort against Princeton may be a page-turner for the Red.
“It’s just one of things where pucks weren’t going our way,” Ferlin said. “But I think, overall, we were happy with the way we played [Saturday] — offensively, blocking shots and boxing guys out in front of the netand stuff we haven’t been doing in the past few games. I think all-in-all, we’re starting to turn the corner.”
The Red will have two more opportunities to snap the losing streak next weekend, traveling to face Dartmouth on Friday and then heading to Cambridge on Saturday. There, it hopes to avenge a 4-1 loss to Harvard from earlier in the season.
Original Author: Chris Mills