Miss the release of our new Cornell hockey podcast? Listen to episode one of ‘Good Evening, Hockey Fans’ here.
After falling 0-2 to begin the season, Cornell men’s hockey gets a chance to turn things around at home as it starts ECAC and Ivy League play this weekend. The Red hosts Yale and Brown, teams projected to finish near the middle and bottom of the conference, respectively.
Cornell has faced off with the Bulldogs 151 times since 1902 and leads the series, 84-60-8. Last year, the teams tied in New Haven after a Cornell comeback was spoiled by a Yale extra-attacker goal with less than a minute to play in regulation. In Ithaca, the Red came from behind again, this time to win, 3-2.
The Red has controlled the all-time series with Brown, 78-43-7. The lowly Bears have had little luck against Cornell under head coach Mike Schafer’s ’86 tenure — the coach is 36-7-5 against Brown, and the Red is 9-0-2 in the teams’ last 11 meetings. Cornell swept the series with Brown last year, earning 3-1 and 2-1 wins.
Cornell last time out:
The Red started its season by suffering a sweep at home at the hands of Michigan State. Sophomore goaltender Matt Galajda, coming off a stellar freshman season, was pulled in favor of classmate Austin McGrath in both contests — 5-2 and 4-3 losses.
Yale last time out:
Yale has played just one game, a 3-2 victory over Brown. Star senior forward Joe Snively scored two goals, including one just 14 seconds into the contest.
Brown last time out:
The Bears are 0-2 after starting the season with losses to Yale and Vermont. Both were one-goal decisions: 3-2 and 2-1.
Scouting the Bulldogs:
Yale returns the bulk of its 2017-18 squad, having graduated only two skaters. Snively leads the way offensively for the Bulldogs — he led the team last season in points (37), goals (19) and assists (17) and finished 15th in the nation in points per game (1.16).
“I think the most important thing is knowing when they’re on the ice and managing the puck and staying above,” senior defenseman and alternate captain Alec McCrea said about matching up with Snively’s line. “We know some of his tendencies, we know his line’s going to bring it.”
“They’re great in transition, they push the envelope as far as getting up and down the ice, but they’re also a very good defensive team,” Schafer said of the Bulldogs. “They’re great on special teams and they play a really good defensive style.”
Scouting the Bears:
Brown finished 10th in the ECAC last year after finishing dead-last the year before. The Bears were picked 11th and 12th in the media and coaches’ polls, respectively, prior to this season. All but one of the team’s defensemen return, but Brown has lost a handful of forwards. Luke Kania and Gavin Nieto have each gotten one start between the pipes.
Cornell beats Yale if:
…it can do what it didn’t do against Michigan State. The nation’s best defensive team a year ago, Cornell appeared unable to stop the Spartans’ tough top line of forwards. Keeping a dangerous player like Snively at bay requires a team effort, but also necessitates the Red’s best defensemen stepping up.
Cornell beats Brown if:
…the Red’s defense gets close to returning to 2017-18 form. Having fallen to 0-2, Cornell is more desperate for a win than many expected they would be in early November, so needs to take care of one of its weaker ECAC opponents.
What they’re saying in Ithaca:
Schafer on facing early-season adversity: “Adversity is good at any point in time. How you handle it and react to it is what you wait to see. … We faced the adversity really, really quick.”
McCrea on starting ECAC play: “We always have great games against both teams … It’s going to be a dogfight.”
What they’re saying in New Haven:
Snively on playing Cornell on the road: “It’s always tough to play at Lynah, but I think it’ll be a good road trip game for us. … There’s going to be more excitement against Ivy League teams. [Cornell] had a great season last year, but we’re a different team. We’ve got a great mix of first years and guys who have some experience.”
What they’re saying in Providence:
Freshman Justin Jallen on the Bears’ season-opening losses to Yale and Vermont: “Our goaltending’s been really good, and I think that we’ve done a really good job outworking opponents. We just haven’t been able to find a way to win yet, but I think that’ll come with time, and if we continue to work hard, I think this team will find success very soon.”
Sophomore defenseman Cody Haiskanen will be back in the lineup this weekend after missing the two games against Michigan State. Haiskanen was hurt in the Red’s second preseason exhibition game.
Yale received one vote in the USA Today/USA Hockey magazine poll this week — a top-15 ranking from which Cornell fell.
Yale’s home arena looks like a whale.