Fresh off of a victory at Madison Square Garden, Cornell men’s hockey will have a quick turnaround; the team will travel to Colgate for a Tuesday evening game. Although the Raiders have a losing record so far this season, Cornell expects a tough matchup in what has been a tightly contested rivalry over the years.
Last season, Cornell (4-3-1, 3-2-1 ECAC) won both matchups against Colgate (3-7-4, 2-3-1 ECAC). This year, the Raiders will catch a bit of break as the Red will need to travel once more after just returning from a road trip. The early week encounter is not something Cornell is used to, but the Red welcomes the opportunity for more games.
“A Tuesday game is unusual for us but we’ll look forward to getting on the ice,” said head coach Mike Schafer.
A later start to the season and an early slate of road games means Cornell has not played as many games as many of the other teams in the ECAC. Although the quick turnaround from Saturday’s game will be a bit of an adjustment, Cornell has become accustomed to long road trips.
“It’s going to be fast and furious as far as turn around time,” Schafer said. “But the travel aspect has become pretty commonplace.”
With injuries adding up for the Red, and only one day of rest between games, the team has adjusted its approach to practice, as Schafer aims to keep players fresh.
“We know that there have been limited amounts of guys on ice at practice,” Schafer said. “You have to be careful not to wear guys out.”
Only playing eight games so far, the team is still looking to apply everything it has learned from practice. The midweek encounter will also allow the team to build on an impressive performance over the weekend and gather some momentum.
“We’re looking forward to playing and applying the lessons we’ve learned in practice,” Schafer said.
Colgate will pose some challenges for the Red, as the team has balanced lines with goal scorers up and down the lineup. Rather than relying on a few players to generate offense, Colgate relies on a total team effort.
“Every guy is dangerous,” Schafer said. “You need to come out and be ready to get after it.”
The Raiders have struggled with defense this season, with the team surrendering over three goals a game to opponents. Cornell’s offense, which has come alive as of late, should have the opportunity to put some pucks in the net against a shaky Colgate back line.
Cornell has areas of its game that it needs to clean up heading into the Tuesday matchup as well. Although the penalty kill has been better for the Red, Schafer still expects more out of his team in terms of limiting scoring chances. On Saturday against UNH, senior goalie Mitch Gillam bailed out Cornell several times in what was a 3-1 victory.
The game could have gone the other way, had it not been for Gillam’s saves on the penalty kill.
“Mitch was the biggest penalty killer we had at Madison Square garden,” Schafer said. “He played great in net but we can’t keep killing penalties like that in the future where we are giving up quality chances.”
Cornell is looking to start strong against Colgate. The team has had a few sluggish first periods so far this season and cannot expect to win on the road with early mistakes.
“We need to come out and be sharp,” Schafer said.
Cornell knows what to expect from Colgate and the team is focused on recovering now and executing its game plan from the moment the puck drops on Tuesday night.
“We had a chance to watch a little more tape today from Colgate and take a look at things,” Schafer said. “They had a good game against Providence on Saturday.”
Cornell takes on Colgate at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Hamilton, N.Y.