The Red hopes to finally break its seven-game skid when it takes on Dartmouth and Harvard this weekend.
Coming off two tough losses to Quinnipiac and Princeton, the Red will continue to hunt for an elusive streak-snapping victory in New England this weekend.
Cornell (8-13-2, 4-10-2 ECAC) will travel to Hanover, N.H. to take on No. 17 Dartmouth (11-8-4, 7-6-3) Friday at 7 p.m. and then face off against Harvard (6-15-2, 3-12-1) Saturday at 7 p.m.
“It’s been tough. It’s kind of been a roller coaster here — up-and-down,” said sophomore forward Madison Dias. “[If] we just keep our eyes on the prize, we just stay focused and do the small things, I think it’s going to turn around real quick for us.”
The Red’s last win came in a 3-2 victory at Union on January 18th. Since then, Cornell has dropped seven straight in ECAC play. The team will get two prime opportunities to end its skid against the Big Green — who trailed the Red until the closing seconds in their previous encounter this season — and the ECAC cellar-dweller Crimson.
“As a coach, I can’t ask for much more than to focus on the finished product,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “And that’s to put pucks in the back of the net. We need our guys to show a little bit more poise, focus and concentrate a little bit harder when they get their opportunities — not be afraid to let it fly.”
According to Schafer, the Red will likely see a similar style of play in Dartmouth as it did last weekend against Quinnipiac and Princeton.
“Going into the weekend, Dartmouth does a great job blocking shots — much like Quinnipiac, much like Princeton on Saturday, but we need to play with confidence,” he said. “The scoring chances were astronomical on Saturday [during the 1-0 loss against Princeton]. I don’t know if we’ve had that many scoring chances for and that few against since I’ve been here as a coach in 18 years. So you get back to work and start all over and there’s nothing else really to be said.”
“This weekend’s a big turnaround,” Dias said. “Harvard is a big rival so hopefully we can get it going.”
Harvard trounced the Red, 4-1, in a sloppy game at Lynah in November, at the time improving the Crimson’s record to 4-2. Harvard has struggled as of late, however, going 2-13-2 since the teams’ last meeting. The Red and the Crimson currently hold the bottom two spots in the ECAC.
“Maybe [the Harvard game] was a little foreshadowing of what’s happened in our season,” Schafer said. “We made a huge mental blunder by the amount of scoring chances we had that night [without converting, which] was very similar to where we are right now.”
Schafer said that turning to the video of the Red’s last matchup with Dartmouth will be an important reminder of what went wrong in the 1-1 tie in November.
“We forget things,” Schafer said of reevaluating the last game against Dartmouth. “I totally forgot we had a 1-0 lead vs. Dartmouth, and we don’t block a shot and they score with 45 seconds but we don’t get down and pay the price — a little bit of foreshadowing for some of the issues we’ve had. You look back at the video and see some of the things that went on in that game, systematically, to make your adjustments, which we do every weekend, and then you get ready to get back on the horse.”
Amid the team’s struggles, some of the Red players have still been trending up, including Dias.
“He brought energy; he worked hard. I thought he showed confidence in himself [last weekend],” Schafer said. “[H]e played well defensively, hustled on the back check [and] created some chances.”
Though his coach recognizes his improvement, Dias pointed out parts of his game that he knows can continue to get better.
“I just need to work on my defensive game. Make sure I get pucks in over the blue line and out of my zone and just stay defensively responsible,” he said. “Confidence comes with playing … and it’s coming within our team right now, too.”
Through a combination of bad bounces and offensive struggles, the Red has averaged a mere 1.4 goals per game during the losing skid. Keeping games close has been an important responsibility for junior goaltender Andy Iles, who said he remains unaffected by the lack of production on offense.
“It doesn’t change anything,” Iles said. “[I’ve] got to stay in the moment and keep giving my team a chance, regardless of whatever we’re doing at the other end of the [ice].”
While the Red’s recent struggles have been frustrating, the team can not do much more than approach the weekend as another opportunity to pick up some quality ECAC wins down the stretch.
“We’re excited,” Iles said. “[T]wo big games this weekend — we’re looking forward to it.”
Original Author: Chris Mills