Things are getting serious at Lynah Rink as No. 17 Cornell men’s hockey welcomes nationally-ranked ECAC rivals Quinnipiac and Princeton this weekend. This fourth week of the season sets the tone going forward, representing perhaps the Red’s toughest series yet.
Cornell’s all-time record against Quinnipiac sits at 22-16-3. The Red was victorious in all four games played against the Bobcats last season, with two regular-season matchups followed by a two-game sweep in the ECAC Hockey Championship quarterfinals. Cornell annihilated Quinnipiac, 9-1, in the first game of the playoff before shutting them out with 22 saves by sophomore goaltender Matt Galajda in game two.
Cornell also leads the all-time series against Princeton, 92-52-8. The Red had won seven straight against the Ivy rival until the Tigers defeated Cornell in the teams’ last meeting, a 4-1 decision in the ECAC Hockey Championship semifinals in March.
Cornell last time out:
Cornell played a two-game set at Northern Michigan University last weekend, taking both games, 3-1 and then 3-2. The Red has not been down in a game in its past four matches — a marked difference from their disheartening opening series against Michigan State. Cornell is the only team in the country not to have faced such a deficit over their past four tilts. The Red also took advantage of its power plays at Northern Michigan, scoring four times in two games to improve its power play conversion rate to 20 percent.
Quinnipiac last time out:
The Bobcats currently hold a 7-2-0 record but have dropped two of their last three. They fell to Union in their most recent game, 5-1.
Princeton last time out:
Princeton owns a 3-1-1 record, with the Tigers’ sole loss being their first game of the season. The Tigers won twice at home last weekend, scoring five goals in each game against Union and Rensselaer.
Scouting the Bobcats:
Quinnipiac is tied for first in the nation in terms of the number of freshmen on its roster with 12. The program is looking to rebuild following a disappointing 2017-18 season. Rand Pecknold is in his 25th season as head coach.
Of the team’s four leading scorers, three are defensemen — their top scorer is senior defenseman and Washington Capitals draft pick Chase Priskie.
“It’s always fun against Quinnipiac; I think we match up really well against them,” said senior defenseman Alec McCrea.
Scouting the Tigers:
Princeton’s power-play success rate is something of a marvel at 42.1 percent — a statistic that, unsurprisingly, leads the country. While this percentage seems unsustainable, the Tigers ended last season at 27.7 percent — also best in the country — so the team is obviously a force to be reckoned with when their opponent is a man down.
The No. 15 Tigers also boast three preseason All-ECAC Hockey Team picks on their roster: senior forwards Ryan Kuffner and Max Véronneau and senior defenseman Josh Teves. Kuffner has won ECAC Player of the Week both of the past two weeks.
Cornell beats Quinnipiac if:
… offense pounces early and takes advantage of the holes in Quinnipiac’s defense that were exposed in the Bobcats’ 5-1 losses to Dartmouth and Union.
Cornell beats Princeton if:
… the defense can hold its own on the penalty kill. Ideally, Cornell would stay off the penalty kill altogether, but given the unlikelihood of such an occurrence, the Red must look to defense and goalie Matt Galajda to keep the Tigers, who are so potent on the power-play, at bay.
What they’re saying in Ithaca:
Head coach Mike Schafer ’86 on playing two ranked teams: “Unless you guys told me today where we’re ranked — if we’re ranked — I would have no idea. I haven’t seen a poll since the media poll. … We are trying to survive right now with getting better as a hockey team, knowing that they’re great competition in these next two games at home.”
Freshman forward Michael Regush on being named ECAC Rookie of the Week: “I don’t think I won any type of player of the week in three years of juniors … but I think it’s a byproduct of our team’s success and playing with a really great group.”
What they’re saying in Hamden:
Freshman Michael Lombardi on facing Cornell for the first time since last year’s ECAC playoffs: “We had the [Cornell Daily Sun headline] that said ‘How Sweep It Is’ in our weight room all summer. There is definitely an added motivation going into this game.”
What they’re saying in Princeton:
Head coach Ron Fogarty on the Tigers’ recent improvements: “Experience and learning how to win takes time, and we took time to learn how to win a couple years ago to get to 15 wins, and then getting to Lake Placid and winning [an ECAC] championship is great experience to have and that knowledge of what it takes to win.”
The Red is riddled with injuries going into this series, with sophomore defenseman Alex Green still out and junior forward Jeff Malott now injured as well. The statuses of sophomore forward Brenden Locke and senior defenseman Brendan Smith are questionable. Green was initially hurt against Yale, with the other three injuries coming during last weekend’s games at Northern Michigan.
Both the USA Today and USCHO.com polls rank Princeton 15th, while USA Today puts Quinnipiac at No. 14 and USCHO.com puts the Bobcats at No. 16.
Hobey Baker, for whom the award given yearly to the top NCAA hockey player is named, played at Princeton University. Their rink is also named for him.