They say that revenge is a dish best served cold, so having turnaround performances against two Ivy rivals on ice must be twice as nice.
This past weekend, Cornell (13-8-6, 8-7-5 ECAC) got a second look at two teams who gave the Red a great deal of trouble earlier in the season. Last time around, Dartmouth (14-12-1, 11-9-0) and Harvard (15-8-4, 11-5-4) handed the Cornell two straight losses in the midst of the team’s longest winless streak of the season.
In the defensive battles, the Red was able to redeem two disappointing performances and muster a three-point weekend, tying Harvard on Friday and narrowly beating Dartmouth, 1-0, on Saturday.
“We are starting to play better than we have been in the past,” head coach Mike Schafer ’86 said.
The Crimson and Green put up nine goals collectively against the Red in the earlier weekend, so defense was without a doubt going to be a focus going into this weekend, according to Schafer.
“We know for both Harvard and Dartmouth we had to have tight gaps all weekend and play well defensively,” Schafer said. “Both these teams have been doing a great job this year creating offense.”
Yet again, the story of the weekend was junior goalie Mitch Gillam, who recorded his sixth shutout of the season, stopping 65-of-68 shots.
“Our guys did a good job of letting [Gillam] see pucks,” Schafer said. “He also did a good job using his stick around the net controlling rebounds. He was solid and didn’t let things get through.”
Perhaps the biggest turning point in the Dartmouth game was the Red’s ability to fend off a 5-on-3 unscathed after two minor penalties committed by senior Christian Hilbrich and freshman Anthony Angello.
“It was huge coming off that 5-on-3,” Gillam said. “We just clogged up the middle and didn’t give them anything. We played the way we wanted to win.”
Along with the 5-on-3, the Red felt that the momentum from the impressive tie with Harvard helped lead into Saturday’s game.
“We got our swagger back and we were building off the game against Harvard [on Friday],” Gillam added.
The biggest question with only two games left in the regular season is where the Red will end up in the standings. With two points separating Cornell in seventh place with St Lawrence in fourth place, the ECAC is still up for grabs after third place. Every point from now on is huge.
“It’s a big win in both the national and league picture,” Schafer said. “We knew we had to get points and focus on getting a win.”
With the two games left coming against RPI and Union, two teams the Red has not beaten yet this year, they are not letting the past dictate its confidence going forward.
“We’ve had that [playoffs] mindset all year,” Gillam said. “I think we can be a top team in the nation and I think we can turn heads in the end.”