Cornell and North Dakota, the top two men’s hockey teams in the country at the end of the shortened 2019-20 season, will face off at Lynah Rink in October, Cornell coach Mike Schafer ’86 said on a Zoom call with fans on Thursday.
In the town hall-style meeting, Schafer said the Red’s first games of the season will take place at Lynah Rink against the Fighting Hawks. The two-game series is set for Oct. 30 and 31. It will be an early chance for Cornell to be put to the test against one of the West’s top programs.
While the team’s schedule isn’t fully set, Cornell’s first games will likely be its most high-profile non-conference tilts of the season. North Dakota finished the 2019-20 season first in the PairWise and second in the national polls, right behind Cornell. October’s matchups represent a clash between what many called the top two teams in men’s college hockey throughout the 2019-20 season.
The Fighting Hawks posted a 26-5-4 record this season, including a 17-4-3 mark in NCHC play. Hobey Baker Award finalist Jordan Kawaguchi scored 45 points in his junior season after leading the team in goals, assists and points as a sophomore.
Yale set to be Cornell’s Madison Square Garden opponent
Cornell’s annual Thanksgiving weekend game in New York City will take place against Ivy League rival Yale next season, Schafer said on Thursday’s call. Past opponents in the Frozen Apple — an event that takes place during years that Cornell doesn’t face Boston University in the teams’ biennial Red Hot Hockey matchup — have included Michigan, Penn State, New Hampshire and Harvard.
Yale finished the 2019-20 season 15-15-2 with a similar 10-10-2 mark in ECAC play. Yale beat Union in the first round of the ECAC playoffs before the rest of the league tournament was canceled.
No update on Barron’s decision
Cornell will return most of its key pieces from a 2019-20 team that had appeared primed to contend for a national championship. But its best forward, junior Morgan Barron, could opt to leave school early to sign a deal with the New York Rangers. Schafer said on Thursday that Barron “is going to make a decision that’s personal for him.”
“We’re encouraging Morgan to make this decision [based on] what’s best for him,” Schafer said, later adding, “Everyone’s got an opinion on it but the most important opinion is Morgan’s.”
“He knows how much we want him to come back to Cornell,” Schafer said. “He’s got our support either way.”
No, Cornell isn’t going to hang a national championship banner
Wearing a 2020 Detroit Frozen Four sweater — “this is where we should be right now,” Schafer said — the coach put fans’ calls to hang a national championship banner at Lynah Rink to rest on Thursday.
“That would cheapen it,” Schafer said. “It’s not a national championship. … We’ll honor this group of guys somehow inside Lynah Rink.”