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After a midweek loss at Brown, No. 11 men’s hockey will have a chance to snap its recent skid during a home-and-home series with Colgate this weekend.
Colgate (9-14-2, 4-7-2 ECAC) is coming off a 2-1 overtime victory over Dartmouth last weekend. That win ended a nine game winless streak for the Raiders.
“[Colgate is] very good offensively,” said Associate Head Coach Ben Syer. “We’re going to have to be ready to compete.”
The Raiders will be Cornell’s last new opponent of the season, and this weekend will be the only time the two upsate rivals and travel partners face off this season. The annual home-and-home series is a unique oddity in Cornell’s regular ECAC schedule.
“You’re preparing for night one and knowing you’re going to be making adjustments for the same team,” Syer said. “It’s different than having a completely new opponent the next night.”
Cornell has swept or been swept in all of its back-to-back series with the same opponent this season. The Red opened the season with a sweep of Alaska Fairbanks, was swept by Arizona State to start the second half and bounced back with a sweep of North Dakota the next weekend.
Syer doesn’t see anything in the Red’s approach to those games that explain the trend.
“I think that’s a coincidence,” Syer said. “I didn’t realize that until [now.]”
Syer has been filling in for Head Coach Mike Schafer ’86 since Jan. 8, when Schafer contracted COVID during the team’s trip to North Dakota. Schafer had returned to the ice for a few practices in January, but had not returned behind the bench in the team’s games.
On Wednesday, Schafer announced that he would miss the next few weeks after his doctors discovered that he needed a cardiac stent, which has been successfully placed.
“To not have him around on a regular basis certainly does change things a bit in the locker room,” Syer said. “Even on days he hasn’t been able to get into the office, we talk multiple times a day. [Assistant Coach Sean Flanagan] and I will be on calls with him or FaceTime and we’ll discuss [strategy and gameplans].”
Syer went 9-0-4 in his first 13 games as an acting head coach before losing for the first time on Jan. 21 against Princeton. The Red has gone 3-2-2 so far during this stretch without Schafer.
“We have to get back collectively to Cornell hockey,” Syer said. “Winning foot races, winning puck battles, blocking shots and playing hard and always competing. Those are the things we need to get back to and start to execute over the next bit.”
Cornell will try to turn its recent struggles around at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Hamilton and 7 p.m. Saturday at Lynah Rink.