There is no team Cornell men’s hockey has faced off against more than Quinnipiac since the 2010-11 season.
In the 23 contests between the two ECAC powers in that timeframe, nine have come in the postseason, 13 have been decided by a one-goal margin and six have had to be decided in overtime. Each contest is more bitterly fought than the one preceding it, and each holds an added sense of urgency and novelty than most any other game on the respective schedules.
“From game one when I played Quinnipiac last year, I noticed a difference,” said sophomore defenseman Yanni Kaldis, who has two games under his belt against the Bobcats. “It’s a really fun game to play in. We can expect their best and they should expect our best also.”
With a sweep of Alabama-Huntsville this past weekend in the back pocket, Cornell is set to begin ECAC play this coming Friday and Saturday, and there is no other team the Red would rather begin against.
The No. 18 Cornell squad heads to No. 11/12 Quinnipiac this Friday, with Princeton slotted in the next day. As opposed to UAH this past weekend, Cornell has two teams to focus on in the upcoming road trip, and while the team will tell you that every game is of equal importance, it is clear who they look forward to more.
“It’s always fun playing Quinnipiac,” said senior alternate captain and forward Trevor Yates, the reigning ECAC Player of the Week. “We don’t like them very much, so it adds a little more excitement to the game.”
In the 23 contests since the 2010-11 season, Quinnipiac holds the slim margin in wins with 12 to Cornell’s 10, and one bout ending in a 2-2 tie. But the Bobcats have dominated in the goals department, holding a 17-goal margin over the Red in the past seven seasons, albeit with a 10-0 win thrown into the mix.
“It’s one of those teams you go in and you know it’s going to be one of the hardest, if not the hardest, games of the year,” Yates said.
A team always chock-full of offensive and defensive weapons, Quinnipiac is coming off a relatively down year, at least by its standards. The Bobcats lost in the ECAC semifinals to eventual-Frozen Four team Harvard and fell short of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2012.
“It’s ebbs and flows,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86 of Quinnipiac. “[They’ve] been having great years, and we’ve been trying to steal stuff that they do.”
As much as Cornell would love to try and dismantle Quinnipiac every day of the year, the team also has an up-and-coming Princeton team to prepare for the very next night.
The Tigers finished seventh in the ECAC last season with a 8-11-3 conference record and were tabbed to finish fourth and fifth in the media and coaches’ polls, respectively. Junior Max Véronneau was also picked by both sects of voting members to be an all-conference selection at forward.
Cornell, at least on the scoreboard, easily handled Princeton in both matchups last season, but was outshot in the 5-1 win in New Jersey. Schafer is wary of what could potentially be a Tiger squad on the rise.
“Our guys respect them,” Schafer said. “We had two tough games against them last year. … If you give them time and space, like anybody else, they will make plays.”
Like Cornell, Princeton touts a newcomer in net after the graduation of Colton Phinney, the program’s all-time leader in saves. Ryan Ferland has just one game of collegiate experience, but he led his team to a season-opening 4-2 win over Holy Cross, where he had to make 38 saves.
Schafer also stressed the power of the impending opponents’ special teams. But one bright spot of taking and drawing so many penalties for Cornell this past weekend against UAH was getting reps on the powerplay and penalty kill early on in the season.
“It was really important for both the power play and the penalty kill [to get ice time],” Kaldis said. “We got better in the second game against [UAH] than the first game. … We have to move forward from here.”
The weekend slate of games kicks off at 7 p.m. from Quinnipiac’s High Point Solutions Arena, then again at the same time Saturday from Princeton’s Hobey Baker Memorial Rink.