Cornell's Attention to Detail
win is worth celebrating, but at Cornell a win against Harvard
is worth a little more.
seasons have seen Cornell and Harvard slugging it out for
position in the league standings or in pursuit of the playoff
championship, and no other game gets as much attention from
Cornell for students and alumni.
aftermath of the most recent meeting between these rival
schools, a 2-0 Cornell victory on Nov. 5, the victory itself
wasn’t the main point of discussion. The matter in
which the Big Red went about earning the victory was what
was on everyone’s mind.
took care of all of the little things. It was a performance
tailor-made for the playoffs and it came in the Big Red’s
third official outing of the season. In the defensive zone
players stayed in shooting lanes without leaving their skates.
When a loose puck squirted to open ice, Cornell players
made correct reads on whether to jump into the play or stay
back in a defensive posture. The few pucks that made it
toward David McKee’s goal crease were easily handled
by the sophomore goaltender without concern as defenders
tied up any lurking Crimson forwards.
teams set out to be the best offensive team. We set out
to be the best defensive team in the country this year,”
Cornell head coach Mike Schafer said. “I think when
you’re a good defensive team you had better pay attention
to detail. I like the rule changes because the teams that
play defense with their feet are being rewarded right now.”
not a new formula for Cornell. In Schafer’s nine years
as head coach in Ithaca, N.Y. the Big Red have emphasized
defense. Cornell lost five regular season games last year
in Lynah Rink, one of the most advantageous home venues
in college hockey, and also lost an ECACHL quarterfinal
playoff series on home ice. Less dedication to playing without
the puck was a contributing factor to Cornell’s record.
got away from that a little bit last year,” Schafer
said. “It was a part of our success a couple of years
ago and we’ve absolutely demanded it from our guys,
and they’ve come through.”
senior captain Mike Knoepfli, who scored a short-handed
goal in the win over Harvard, sets the tone in the dressing
room, weight room, and on the ice. The team has taken on
the mandate of the coaching staff and it’s paid huge
dividends so far. At 4-0-0, the Big Red is the only team
in men’s Division I hockey with a perfect record,
and stands in the top 10 in all of the national polls.
the start of our season our team got together and came up
with a motto and details was a part of that. It’s
very important to us. Everything we do as far as workouts
and practice, we’re a very detail-oriented team. It
pays off in games,” Knoepfli said.
four wins have come on home ice. They’ll be tested
on the road this weekend with games Friday and Sunday at
AND HEARD IN THE ECACHL
Success – Cornell isn't the only team that
things are going well for in the ECACHL. St. Lawrence had
some eye-opening wins in non-conference play and earned
a split in the opening weekend of league play. After losing
to Union College on Friday night, St. Lawrence picked up
a 3-2 win over Rensselaer with a better work ethic and exceptional
outworked us last night and our kids knew that," St.
Lawrence coach Joe Marsh said after the win over RPI. "That's
a very important aspect of our team and our personality.
We know we have to work hard. I thought the guys response
tonight was outstanding."
key to St. Lawrence's good start is leadership and poise,
which comes from playing in big games.
toughness at this level is not always about pushing and
shoving after the whistle. I think our kids are learning
a lot about discipline and they're trying hard and working
very hard. They've done a lot of things that we've asked
them to do and bought into," Marsh said. "I think
a strength of the team has been leadership. They've maintained
a pretty high agenda for themselves. I'm very pleased to
those early wins over Maine, Michigan State, Miami, and
Rensselaer are only a positive sign toward what's ahead
for St. Lawrence.
is not something that just shows up at your door one day.
You have to earn it and it's more of a commodity that has
to be built upon and I've certainly seen that slowly but
surely guys are playing more poised in tough situations,"
Power Outage – Rensselaer scored all five
of its goals on the power play in a 5-3 win over Clarkson
last Friday, then went 1-for-13 with the man-advantage in
a 3-2 loss to St. Lawrence on Saturday. Junior forward Kevin
Croxton led the team in scoring in each of his first two
seasons and shares the team scoring lead (15 points in nine
games) with Kirk MacDonald this year. When reporters approached
Croxton after Saturday’s loss, he wasn’t surprised
when asked about the power-play struggles.
did I know that was going to be your first question? Live
by the sword, die by the sword I guess,” he said.
“We were on yesterday and tonight they did a real
good job packing it in and blocking shots.”
seeing RPI struggle to take advantage of its extra-man opportunities,
St. Lawrence's Marsh called the Engineers' power play the
best his team has faced this season. That's quite a compliment
considering the Saints have also gone head-to-head with
powerhouse teams Maine, Michigan, Michigan State, and Miami.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
at Michigan State (Fri. and Sun.)
we feature a game or series being played at an ECACHL
home rink, but this week we turn our attention West.
Cornell is off to a blazing start, but it can be argued
that those four wins have come against lackluster
opposition. Michigan State faced high expectations
to start the year and hasn't met those so far. It's
a test for the Big Red and a chance for Michigan State
to get back on the national scene.
You're There: This part of the notebook could turn
into a 5,000-word essay, as East Lansing is a great
city. The one can't-miss event for visitors is the
pre-game football tailgate on Saturday. The Spartan
football team plays No. 4 Wisconsin at 3:30 p.m.,
but the hours leading up to the game are the best
hockey officials have never faced more scrutiny, but
I'll applaud Frank Murphy for one
decisive call he made during Saturday's RPI-St. Lawrence
game. With the Engineers already short-handed, RPI
penalty-killer Kevin Broad appeared to be hauled down
while carrying the puck through the neutral zone.
Murphy made a bold call and whistled Broad for unsportsmanlike
conduct (diving) to put the Engineers two-men short.
New York Post is known for its aggressive
reporting and in-your-face headlines, and paid plenty
of attention to Hugh Jessiman's injury this week.
Sure, he's a first-round draft pick and a native of
the tri-state area, but he's not a Ranger yet.
Four teams made it through the first full weekend of ECACHL
play with perfect conference records. You won’t be
surprised to learn that Cornell and Colgate
were two of those teams. The other two teams, however, are
a bit of a shock as Union and Vermont
join the Big Red and Raiders atop the league standings.
Dartmouth stalwart forward Hugh Jessiman
left Sunday’s game against Princeton
with a torn ligament in his right ankle and is out indefinitely.
He was evaluated by both Dartmouth and New York Rangers
team doctors, and is scheduled to undergo surgery today.
Union's 6-5 win over St. Lawrence
last Friday was the first win over a ranked opponent in
the Dutchmen's history.
Colgate swept Brown and
Harvard over the weekend. Senior Adam Mitchell
has a four-game point streak and has scored at least one
point in eight of the Raiders' nine games.
Traditionally, Harvard's visit to Cornell's
Lynah Rink means that Big Red fans (primarily students)
shower the ice with fish upon Harvard's appearance on the
ice before the start of the first period. In recent years,
the university's athletic department has encouraged the
fans to cease the long-standing tradition. Efforts are starting
to bear fruit, as the fish count has decreased in the last
That road trip was an early test for new Harvard
coach Ted Donato, and he'll finally get to coach his first
official game on home ice at the Bright Hockey Center when
Yale visits. That game can be seen on CSTV.
what Donato said when asked about his first month in charge:
been exciting. I’m looking forward to getting into
the meat of our schedule and getting into more of a rhythm.
It’s been difficult no doubt, but not much different
than I expected."
There's plenty of good news in Burlington, Vt., these days
where the Catamounts are riding a four-game
unbeaten streak and sitting atop the ECACHL standings. For
the last 15 years, Gordon Woodworth has been involved in
spreading that good news in the university's athletic communications
department, the last several as the primary contact for
the men's hockey team. Earlier this week he announced that
this would be his last season in that position. Best wishes,
Gordon. You'll be missed.
variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this