It’s a season that starts with an unfamiliar face and hopefully ends at the 2019 Frozen Four in Buffalo.
Cornell men’s hockey released its 2018-19 schedule in June, making clear the path between the team and a hoped-for third-straight trip to the NCAA tournament. The 2017-18 campaign for Cornell saw the team get off to its best start in nearly half a century, which aided in capturing the ECAC regular season title and securing a trip to the NCAA regionals in Massachusetts.
Along the way, Cornell captured the Kelley-Harkness Trophy after defeating Boston University at Madison Square Garden, swept the season series against archrival Harvard and suffered only three losses within the ECAC. But in the end, the Red fell short of the recently-elusive Whitelaw Cup for the ECAC postseason championship and was bounced out by BU in the first round of NCAAs.
Soon the team will announce a brand new class of recruits who will hope to not only make up for but rather improve upon the lost production of the six-member class of 2018 and hopefully return the program to the promised land for the first time since 1970, capturing an NCAA title.
Cornell’s slate in 2018-19 presents some interesting matchups, including a season-opener against Michigan State at Lynah Rink — the first matchup since 2005 — a trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the first-ever matchups with college hockey’s newest program — Arizona State — and the most exciting of all, a meeting with Harvard at The Garden.
Below is a breakdown and analysis of the 2018-19 schedule, which can be found in a simplified form here.
Oct. 13 & 21: Pair of Exhibition Games Against Canadian Schools
For the second straight year, Cornell will face off against Guelph in a tune-up exhibition game, also adding Laurentian to that list of opponents. The Red blew out Guelph, 7-1, last year and last played Laurentian in 2015, winning 6-1.
Cornell will take on Laurentian on Saturday, Oct. 13, with Guelph the following Sunday, Oct. 21.
Oct. 26 & 27: Season-Opener Hosting Michigan State
2017-18 record: N/A
All-time record: 2-4-1
Cornell and Michigan State will face off for the first time since 2005, which was also Cornell’s season opener, and it resulted in a split series. That year, the Spartans went 28-12-8, and it was one of just four times between 1982 and 2008 that MSU did not qualify for the NCAA tournament.
Since 2008, Michigan State has been in a downswing, reaching the NCAA tournament only once (in 2012), and failing to win at least 20 games in each season since their last appearance.
That said, the Spartans won a small handful of games against NCAA qualifiers last year (Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State) and will have several regular-season contests under their belt before Cornell opens its season against them.
Nov. 2: ECAC/Ivy Opener vs. Yale
2017-18 record: 1-0-1
All-time record: 84-60-8
Cornell will have the luxury of opening its ECAC slate at home this season against Yale, a sub-average team from 2017-18 that gave the Red fits in both meetings. Cornell tied in only two games last season — once against Clarkson, and the other with Yale. The second meeting between the Red and Bulldogs resulted in a 3-2 come-from-behind win for Cornell.
In both games last season, Cornell conceded the first goal, and Yale scored in the final minute of game one to force the tie on home ice. After Yale scored first on the power play again in game two, Cornell responded with a power play goal of its own, then scored two unanswered goals for the win after Yale took a temporary 2-1 lead.
In the statistical categories within the conference, Yale does not appear to have put together a season that might result in its sub-.500 record in the ECAC. But the Bulldogs were a mere 10.6 percent on the power play within the conference and struggled with its depth scoring. Second-Team All-ECAC selection Joe Snively led the way with 36 points (just one against Cornell last year) and is primed to lead the Bulldogs once again.
Nov. 3: vs. Brown
2017-18 record: 2-0
All-time record: 78-43-7
The Bears continued their role as a conference bottom-feeder last season, but not without giving the ECAC’s best regular season team some timely trouble. The two meetings in 2017-18 were Cornell victories five weeks apart, both smaller pieces of a broader unbeaten streak that ultimately catapulted the Red to the national spotlight. But even for one of the hottest teams in the nation, Brown was able to cause trouble, particularly in the second matchup, a 2-1 Cornell victory at Lynah Rink on Feb. 16.
With the Brown/Yale pairing its first look at the 2018-19 ECAC, Cornell draws a lucky card. Unbeaten in all four matchups with the southern New England travel partners, Cornell gets a chance to get off on the right foot in both the Ivy League and the ECAC. Conversely, failure to deliver against these two could prove to dig a deep hole, and the conference season can easily be over before it starts.
Nov. 9 & 10: First Trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Since 1981
2017-18 record: N/A
All-time record: 3-3
Cornell fans will remember Northern Michigan from the last installment of the Florida College Hockey Classic, where the Red downed the Wildcats in the first round, 5-2, but eventually was upset by Colorado College in the finals. Alex Rauter ’18 had the game-winning goal then in a game Cornell dominated, outshooting Northern Michigan, 42-20.
But this time around, the matchup moves to a location just a tad different than Estero, Florida’s Germain Arena: Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Last year, the Wildcats put together a respectable 25-15-3 season under first-year head coach Grant Potulny, which included a trip to the WCHA championship game, where they lost to Michigan Tech. The Wildcats ended 2017-18 ranked No. 19 in the PairWise.
It’ll be Cornell’s first trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula since an NCAA quarterfinal series in 1981. Adam Rockwood, Troy Loggins and Philip Beaulieu — all with remaining NCAA eligibility — served as the lethal 1-2-3 punch for the Wildcats last season.
Nov. 16: Rivalry Game vs. Quinnipiac
2017-18 record: 4-0
All-time record: 22-16-3
For all the winning that the 2017-18 Cornell team did, few games were as entertaining and lively as the now-notorious 9-1 thrashing of the Bobcats that took place in the first game of the ECAC quarterfinals at Lynah Rink last March. Fourteen of the Red’s 18 skaters notched a point in that game, and Cornell did everything it needed to in order to set the course for an appearance in Lake Placid the following week.
In the regular season, though, Quinnipiac certainly presented challenges for the Red, as it almost certainly will in 2018-19. The two programs have a long history including well-documented public spats and quotes between the two sides. The Bobcats routinely sport a well-balanced roster with dynamic skaters and solid goaltending. In all, whether it’s an eight-goal blowout or a chippy scoreless tie, the matchups with Quinnipiac seldom disappoint.
Nov. 17: ECAC Semifinals Rematch vs. Princeton
2017-18 record: 2-1
All-time record: 95-52-8
Princeton was, to a certain extent, the most interesting matchup Cornell faced last season. Cornell has always been leery of Princeton despite its lower place in the standings before last year. With a trio of star forwards — two of which finished in the top five in scoring in the country last season — Princeton has been on the rise for the past few years, and their peak may just be around the corner.
Cornell was forced to come from behind to beat the Tigers in game one last season, powered by three goals in the second half of the game. In game two, Cornell flexed its muscles, with six different players notching goals in a dominating 7-1 win. Game three came in the ECAC semifinals after the Tigers upset Union in the previous round, and the eventual-ECAC champion Princeton offense needed just 18 shots on goal for the 4-1 win.
Despite getting bounced out in round one of the NCAA tournament, Princeton showcased just how far it has come since winning a four-win season in Ron Fogarty’s first year as head coach. All-ECAC First-Team Max Véronneau, Second-Team Ryan Kuffner and 38-point-getter Jackson Cressey all return for the Tigers in 2018-19.
Nov. 24: Harvard at The Garden
2017-18 record: 2-0
All-time record: 76-65-11
It’s the best matchup in college hockey, and for the first time in its history, it’ll take place at The Mecca. At the end of the 2017-18 season, Cornell players, coaches and fans likely shared the same fondest memory of the season: the moment when then-junior blueliner Alec McCrea sent the Crimson packing with a dose of poetic justice by scoring in the waning moments of the Harvard Game at Lynah Rink. Months later, a hat trick for Anthony Angello ’19 was on the menu as the Red completed the season sweep of its bitter arch nemesis.
It’s truly hard to imagine a season result against Harvard any more brilliant than the one achieved last season, but if anything could live up to it, a strong Cornell victory at the World’s Most Famous Arena might be exactly the scenario. Without a doubt, the Crimson — who had incredibly high hopes last year — will be hungry to avenge their two losses in style: under the bright lights in front of a rocking New York crowd. In either case, if there’s one game to circle on your calendar in red ink, it’s the Saturday after Thanksgiving in Manhattan.
Harvard will have to do it, though, without Olympian Ryan Donato, who’s now playing with the Boston Bruins, and goalie Merrick Madsen who has graduated, among other exits.
Nov. 30: First ECAC Road Contest at Dartmouth
2017-18 record: 2-0
All-time record: 82-48-6
Two years ago, Dartmouth was a thorn in Cornell’s side. That season, the Green played Cornell to a 1-1 tie in the first meeting and came from behind at Lynah to cap off Cornell’s only weekend of the season without at least a tie coupled with Harvard’s win the night before.
Last season, however, was a different story. Cornell scored thrice in both matchups with the Green, conceding just one goal in total for the season sweep. That being said, it was an overall positive year for Dartmouth. The Green finished tied with Colgate for fifth in the ECAC after being selected ninth in both preseason polls.
Dartmouth will be without its steady hand in net this season as Devin Buffalo has now graduated, but four of the Green’s top five point-getters from 2017-18 are set to return the upcoming year.
Dec. 1: The Garden Rematch in Cambridge
Jan. 4: at Princeton
Jan 5: at Quinnipiac
Jan 11 & 12: First Ever Matchup With Arizona State (Non-Conference Finale)
2017-18 record: N/A
All-time record: N/A
Cornell’s most intriguing opponent of 2017-18 will come in its first-ever matchup with college hockey’s newest team. Arizona State has been around as a Division I program only since 2015, and the Sun Devils have made it a priority to build up its resume by taking on as many quality non-conference opponents as it can.
The Sun Devils won just eight times last season and had 11 games against eventual NCAA qualifiers. Against ECAC opponents Colgate (0-1-1), Princeton (1-1) Quinnipiac (0-1-1) and Yale (0-2) Arizona State trudged through to a 1-5-2 record with both losses to Yale coming in overtime.
It will be an interesting matchup for the Lynah Faithful in January, and one that has never been seen before. Arizona State will hope to make the 2,500 mile journey well worth their time.
Jan 18: Fish Flying vs. Harvard at Lynah
Jan. 19: Rematch With Dartmouth
Jan. 25 & 26: Home and Home With Colgate
2017-18 record: 2-0
All-time record: 83-57-15
One of the Red’s bright spots last season was the breakout performance of its star freshman goaltender Matt Galajda. Indeed, perhaps the moments where the Ontario native shined most in his rookie season came in back-to-back 2-0 shutouts of Colgate. The two electric performances were part of a shutout streak that spanned nearly four games and was second-longest in program history.
Galajda’s continued success is a reason to look forward to next year’s home-and-home matchups. Here’s another: Cornell has not lost to the Raiders since Feb. 8, 2014, and is unbeaten against its ECAC travel partner at home since Jan. 27, 2012.
Feb. 1: at Union
2017-18 record: 1-1
All-time record: 39-21-9
Union was, without a doubt, Cornell’s closest matchup of the 2017-18 season. In the first game against the Dutchmen, Feb. 3 at Lynah Rink, the Red won a tight, 4-3 decision in what was Union’s attempt at upsetting a Cornell team that was the best team in college hockey at the time.
If not for Cornell’s two early goals, a catastrophic upset may have come a night earlier than it did, as Union’s second and third periods gave the Red all kinds of fits as it tried to hold onto its lead. In the two matchups with the Dutchmen last season, special teams made the difference both times. Cornell’s power play was able to save them in its victory at home, but its penalty kill found trouble against a well-oiled Union offense in both matchups, including the season finale at Messa Rink in Schenectady — a 4-3 Union victory.
Feb. 2: at Rensselaer
2017-18 record: 1-1
All-time record: 63-37-10
RPI was responsible for knocking the Red off the top of the college hockey universe on Feb. 4. Cornell had entered that game riding an 11-game unbeaten streak that saw it achieve the program’s first No. 1 ranking in the national polls in more than a decade.
The Engineers, in contrast, were in second to last place the ECAC and 59th out of 60 in the national PairWise rankings at the time of that fateful game at Lynah Rink. The loss, which ended Cornell’s week-long stay atop the rankings, saw the Red cough up a weak goal in the first 20 seconds from which the home team was unable to recover. A sloppy power play mistake led to a RPI shorthanded tally later on, and Cornell was never able to get out of its own way.
The RPI loss was perhaps the best example of the parity in the ECAC and college hockey in general — that any given team can beat another on any evening. It’s a lesson that Cornell learned perhaps too late, as this wasn’t the first crushing upset it would suffer as the most important days of the season came along.
Cornell would not make the same mistake again, however, beating RPI in February to secure the ECAC regular-season title.
This first matchup of the season with the Engineers will come once again as the most important stretch of the season looms. This year’s team would be wise to learn from past mistakes.
Feb. 8: vs. Clarkson
2017-18 record: 0-1-1
All-time record: 66-55-17
Clarkson was the one team that Cornell simply could not crack this past season, as the Golden Knights were the only team on the 2017-18 schedule that the Red was unable to beat at least once. Not only did Cornell fail to defeat its rival from Potsdam, it failed to score a single goal in two tries against second-team all-ECAC goaltender Jake Kielly.
If Cornell is to restore its hope of returning to the biggest stage in the ECAC and claiming itself champions, it certainly starts with showing up against the team that could very well be its biggest competition in that respect. In all, victories against Clarkson will be a step in the right direction after a disappointing end to an otherwise superb season.
Feb. 9: vs. St. Lawrence
2017-18 record: 2-0
All-time record: 62-45-8
St. Lawrence is another team that lived at the bottom of the conference standings last season. Plagued with injuries and scandal out of the opening gate, the Saints came into Lynah rink and were dismantled by the Red, 6-1, thanks in part to a hat trick from then-sophomore Noah Bauld.
While Cornell’s defense has been the hallmark of its success, the offense found times to shine last season in big moments, and the first matchup with St. Lawrence is a prime example. On the flip side, Cornell’s other victory against St. Lawrence in 2017-18 came in the form of a 1-0 nailbiter where Jared Fiegl ’18 was the difference-maker and the Cornell defense stayed strong in front of Galajda. In both situations, Cornell played some of its best hockey against a struggling team, something that can prove to be valuable experience towards the later parts of the season.
Feb. 15: at Brown
Feb. 16: at Yale
Feb. 22: vs. RPI
Feb. 23: Senior Night vs. Union
March 1: at. St. Lawrence
March 2: Regular Season Finale at Clarkson