November 20, 2014

MEN’S HOCKEY | Icers Search for Consistency in ECAC Matchups

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The men’s ice hockey team recorded its first win of the season last Friday, but inconsistent play resulting in a loss the following night meant the Red’s momentum was short-lived. With Ivy rivals Yale and Brown coming to town this weekend, the team looks to pick up the pace and earn some much-needed points against conference competitors.

“There’s a difference between a sense of urgency and hitting the panic button,” said senior assistant captain Cole Bardreau of the Red’s pressure to capture wins after its early season struggles. “Yeah, there is a sense of urgency that we need to bear down, we need to start taking care of our scoring chances. … But at the same time, you can’t panic. It sends panic through the team and people stop thinking, and right now we need people to think instead of running around.”

The Red has struggled to find the back of the net this season, resulting in a 1-4-1 overall record and 1-3 conference record. Despite good offensive opportunities, the team has not been able to finish on key chances.

“If you look and break down the chances that we have, we are getting opportunities to score goals,” said assistant head coach Ben Syer, making the point that the Red will not drastically overhaul its systems after the slow start. “We’re staying with the process. As long as we feel as though we’re getting quality looks and quality chances, we’re going to continue to work the same way.”

The Red will take on the Bulldogs (3-2-1, 2-1-1) first in Friday’s match-up. The Bulldogs swept Harvard and Dartmouth last weekend, but struggled in their ECAC match-ups the weekend before. Against Clarkson, the Bulldogs strained to a 2-2 tie, and against St. Lawrence the team mustered up no offense in a 4-0 shutout loss. Last season, the Red took November’s home match-up against Yale, 2-1, and won January’s rematch in New Haven, 3-2.

Due to a scuffle after Saturday’s game last weekend at Lynah, sophomore forward Matt Buckles and sophomore defenseman Holden Anderson will sit out Friday’s game. With the Red’s defensive core already depleted due to a multi-week injury to senior assistant captain Joakim Ryan, Anderson’s temporary loss is another blow to the Red’s blueliners.

“We’ll be fine — I mean, we’ve been missing Joaks for a few weeks now, so that’s something that we’ve been living with and we’ve been having some success on the back end I think as a group of six,” said senior defenseman Jake MacDonald. “Without Holden, I think that’s a tough loss for a game that we’re going to have on Friday, but that’s okay, we’re going to battle through it and we’ll be fine.”

Saturday’s matchup features the Bears visiting Lynah. Brown is 1-4 overall and 0-4 in conference play, receiving a 6-0 shellacking at the hands of Dartmouth last Saturday. The Bears didn’t fare much better against Harvard the previous night, falling to the Crimson, 6-2.

Brown’s porous defense — the team has been outscored 21-9 through five games — could provide an opening for the Red, which has seen frustrations mount over its lack of offensive production.

“We have to be comfortable with the fact that we don’t have a lot of guys that can put up huge numbers,” Bardreau said. “We have to be comfortable in close games and just push through the game … and be comfortable with the fact that we’re not going to have high-scoring games.”

To create the right attitude in the team — to keep from “hitting the panic button” — Bardreau said responsibility trickles down from the coaches and falls to the team’s voted leaders and its older players.

“It starts with the coaching staff, and once [the] coaching staff says their words I think it comes to us, that we have to come to the locker room and they’ve got to know from us captains and leaders and upperclassman we’re pissed off, we’re upset about what’s happening but at the same time we’ve got to stay together as a team. We’ve got to accomplish our goals, but not run around like idiots out there.”