Hoping to start a new winning streak, Cornell men’s hockey heads back on the road to the Capital Region to take on ECAC foes Union and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Clashes against both the Dutchmen and Engineers seldom disappoint, so here’s what you need to know ahead of the weekend.
How to watch or listen:
Against Union on ESPN+ (subscription needed, international stream here), against RPI on RPITV on YouTube (free). Radio in Ithaca on WHCU 97.7 FM/870 AM. Online at www.cornellsun.com and on Twitter @DailySunSports.
Series with the Dutchmen:
Cornell holds a commanding 39-21-9 edge in the series against Union but saw its six-game unbeaten streak against the Dutchmen snapped in last year’s regular season finale loss in Schenectady.
Series with the Engineers:
The Red owns a 63-37-10 stranglehold on the series against the Engineers with a 26-9-7 record since 2000 alone. But recent success on the road has been hard to come by as Cornell is just 2-3-2 in its last seven trips to RPI. Cornell clinched the Cleary Cup in its last visit to Troy, and it avenged an earlier 2-1 loss in the season to the Engineers when Cornell was ranked No. 1 in the country.
Cornell last time out:
The Red split a two-game series with Route 13 Rival Colgate, watching its eight-game unbeaten streak end on Saturday. Cornell took game one 3-2 in what head coach Mike Schafer ’86 called a disappointing effort before losing by the same score in overtime the next night after the Raiders’ netminder made 42 saves.
Union last time out:
The Dutchmen last went face-to-face with none other than the Engineers this past Tuesday, and the two Capital Region rivals skated to a 0-0 tie in the Capital District Mayor’s Cup. Before that, Union split a home series against Yale and Brown, beating the former, 4-3, in overtime before falling to the latter, 3-2.
RPI last time out:
Before the grudge match against the Dutchmen, the Engineers also faced off against the Bears and Bulldogs but were swept in the home series. But before that, RPI had won three of its past four games.
Scouting the Dutchmen:
Union may sit at just No. 8 within the ECAC, but don’t be fooled by the Dutchmen’s league record. Union is an impressive 7-1-3 outside the conference with wins against B.U., then-No. 1 St. Cloud State, and a sweep of then-No. 12 Northeastern.
Four seniors lead the way up front for the Dutchmen, with captain Cole Maier — October’s ECAC Player of the Month — ahead of the pack with 20 points. Responsibilities in net have been shared by senior Jake Kupsky (6-4-1, 2.71 goals against average) and Darion Hanson (6-3-4, 2.36 goals against average).
Scouting the Engineers:
Head coach Dave Smith — at the helm of the Engineers after 12 seasons at Canisius — has guided RPI to a 4-9 record within ECAC play thus far. The second-to-last place Engineers have struggled both scoring and keeping the puck out of the net, as their 28 goals for are third-least in the ECAC and 45 goals against are the second-most of the 12 ECAC squads.
Cornell beats Union if:
… it wins the special teams battle (assuming there is one). In Cornell’s two games against the Dutchmen last season, a combined 14 goals were scored. Eight alone came via the power play.
Obviously, that could very well change this season. Cornell’s 62 penalty kill attempts this season is the third-fewest in the nation, and Union’s power play sits at just No. 29 in the country.
But in the last nine contests between the Red and Dutchmen over the past three seasons, Cornell’s power play is 11-for-27 (40.7 percent) against Union and Union’s power play is 13-for-37 (35.2 percent) against Cornell. History points to special teams as once again playing a large role this Friday.
Cornell beats RPI if:
… it plays its game. Despite Cornell’s blunder in game one against RPI last season, the Engineers are a team Cornell has to beat twice this season. Last season’s loss came with a much larger buffer in the standings. At this point this year, only four points separate No. 1 and No. 7 in the ECAC.
What they’re saying in Ithaca:
Junior forward Jeff Malott of the team’s attitude after the split weekend: “Last week, we didn’t string together a great practice week leading up to the weekend, and it showed. So I think we’ve got some guys chomping at the bit for this weekend.”
Schafer on the team’s attitude: “The guys are back and competing … When you lose, it brings things to a head. We’ve addressed those [issues], talked about them, practiced hard today.”
Schafer on the ongoing goalie battle: “You want to see them battle when things break down and make that big save when the team needs it.”
What they’re saying in the Capital Region:
RPI head coach Dave Smith on the team’s power play shortcomings (via the Albany Times Union): “It’s not the only focal point, but it is definitely one of them. It’s hard to measure what would have been, what would it be if we were better on the power play. We continue to leave the units together and get the feedback and it is one of the key focal points for sure.”
RPI freshman goaltender Owen Savory on the game against Union (via the Albany Times Union): “Coming into this week, a stretch of five games in eight days is obviously tough for any team but having the game in the middle of the week was different. It was a different mindset in practice, preparing for a Tuesday game but we brought it. It took a period to get going but after that, we realized we had to do our job and we did that and had a great pushback.”
Union senior goalie Jake Kupsky on the game against RPI (via the Albany Times Union): “It is the best thing for us. Those guys have given us a tough time this year and they are our biggest rival. We want that game. We were a little upset it got (postponed). We really wanted to give it to them. We just want to win it.”
While freshman forward Max Andreev’s broken collarbone will keep him out until the beginning of March at the earliest, there is little clarity on the other three injured Cornellians, forwards Noah Bauld and Tristan Mullin and defenseman Alex Green.
Bauld and Mullin are the newest injuries, as the former sat out both Colgate games and the latter played in game one before sitting out in game two. Mullin was seen in a walking boot before game one.
Green is still fighting back from a Nov. 2 injury, when he hit his head/neck region on the ice in a game against Yale.
Trophy on the horizon:
Despite not playing in any Ivy contests this weekend, Cornell can lock up its second consecutive Ivy League title this weekend should Brown beat or tie Yale on Saturday.
All eyes on the PairWise:
Cornell currently sits at No. 9 in the all-important PairWise rankings, which play a big role in NCAA selections come March. It’s a 23-spot improvement since a Nov. 30 loss at Dartmouth.
Saturday’s loss to Colgate ended a 17-game unbeaten streak for Cornell within the month of January. The Red has amassed a record of 15-1-2 in the month over the past two seasons.