The Cornell men face two home matchups this weekend with University of Alabama at Huntsville, NCAA Division I college hockey’s southern-most program. The Chargers recorded their first win of the season on Saturday against Michigan Tech on the Upper Peninsula, topping the Huskies by a score of 4-2. UAH has a 1-3 record on the season, dropping a two-game set at Notre Dame and the other game against Michigan Tech last weekend. They are in the midst of playing their first eight games of the season all away from home. Still, winning one of those four tough road games represents a decent start from what is typically a struggling Charger squad.
Cornell will be favored to sweep UAH, and they will need to do so in order to maintain national respect. Cornell has a very weak non-conference schedule this year; in seven non-conference games, four are against traditionally poor teams. These include the two games against UAH and one each against Niagara and Canisius. Cornell also plays two games against Miami (Ohio), which the Red should handle but could prove tricky. Only the Boston University clash at Madison Square Garden represents a non-conference game where Cornell is a clear underdog. Thus, there is little opportunity to impress pollsters with a big win this season, only chances to disappoint with a shocking loss.
A major factor this weekend will be game experience. With four games in tough road environments already under their belt, Alabama-Huntsville will not be bothered by the hostile Lynah Rink crowd. Having led for parts of the Notre Dame series and won at Michigan Tech, this team will battle the Red.
Cornell will be playing their first official game of the season after the Red/White scrimmage and two exhibition clashes, so the Red will be rusty while the Chargers already have competitive experience against some of the best teams in the country. Cornell should be wary of Huntsville being in better game shape and coming out strong.
Also, there is uncertainty to Cornell’s lineup. Forward Anthony Angello and defenseman Cody Haiskanen saw ice time in the Red/White scrimmage after both sat out last weekend’s exhibitions. With Angello back, Cornell could play a top line of Angello, Mitch Vanderlaan and Trevor Yates. Brendan Smith, Ryan Bliss and Dwyer Tschantz are the only Cornell players who have not skated in either weekend’s games and thus look unlikely to begin the year in the lineup.
Many of the freshmen forwards had strong starts to the exhibition season, and Cam Donaldson, Morgan Barron and Tristan Mullin represent strong candidates to dress for their first game at Lynah Rink. On defense, Matt Cairns and Alex Green seem certain to be included in the lineup as well. Senior Hayden Stewart should get the start in net.
Cornell will take on Alabama-Huntsville this weekend, trying to kick off the season with two wins. The Red is a deeper and more talented team than Alabama-Huntsville, and Cornell’s improved team speed this year will allow the home squad to attack the Chargers in transition. The visitors have game experience on their side and may open the scoring on Friday night, but expect Cornell to emerge victorious at the end of both games this weekend.