The last time Cornell men’s hockey was ranked No. 1 in the USCHO.com poll, Michael Jordan was still playing in the NBA, 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” was at the top of the charts and Barack Obama had not yet been elected to the United States Senate.
Now, a decade and a half later, the Red finds itself atop the poll as the nation’s top collegiate hockey team for the first time since March 28, 2003.
The Red was also ranked No. 1 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll, a feat the team has not achieved since Feb. 28, 2005.
Currently in the midst of a ten-game unbeaten streak, Cornell (18-2-1, 12-1-1 ECAC) clinched its 22nd Ivy League title in program history this past weekend with victories over Ancient Eight rivals Harvard and Dartmouth by scores of 3-0 and 3-1, respectively.
The last top-ranked Cornell squad earned a 30-5-1 record in the 2002-3 season and advanced to the program’s eighth Frozen Four — a feat the Red hasn’t accomplished since.
A major part of what has propelled the team to this point is Cornell’s nation-best defense, which has allowed only 1.53 goals per game. Never has this been more evident than throughout the past few weekends of play, in which freshman goaltender Matt Galajda put together the second-longest shutout streak in program history and 13th-longest in NCAA history at 227 minutes and 11 seconds.
While Galajda’s streak ended in the first period against Dartmouth Saturday, the team has given up just two goals in its last five games.
Offensively, the Red stands as the eighth ranked scoring team in the country, putting up 3.42 goals per game. Both combined, Cornell is the top team in the nation in goal margin per game at +1.95.
In the ECAC, the Red sits alone atop the conference standings, one point above No. 3 Clarkson. The Golden Knights handed the Red its first and only conference loss earlier this season at Lynah, setting the stage for a crucial rematch Feb. 9 in Potsdam.
This season’s team has been no stranger to historic accomplishments. Seven straight wins to open the season was the program’s best start since the 1971-72 national runner-up team won eight in a row before its first loss.
Cornell will look to continue its impressive 2017-18 campaign this weekend at home in its first look at ECAC opponents Union and Rensselaer.