Cornell Looks Past Numbers Game
reflect exactly what Cornell is trying to accomplish this year,
and that is to be the best defensive team in the nation. It’s
been their aspiration since the start of the season and so far,
so good. The Big Red have allowed just 1.59 goals per game, and
have been battling with Boston College for the national lead in
It’s not just about the numbers, however, as coach Mike
Schafer points out. When Cornell is at its best, the Big Red are
blocking shots, earning puck possession, and eventually turning
that into scoring chances.
“A few things still have to happen for us. The goals-against
I don’t think truly speaks to being the best defensive team.
It shows, obviously, that you can do the job but the whole purpose
of being the best defensive team is to create transition chances
and create opportunities for yourself, not just to sit back and
keep your goals-against average down,” Schafer said.
It’s working. Often criticized for a lack of offensive firepower,
Cornell is the highest-scoring team in the ECACHL and ranks 11th
in the nation with 3.41 goals per game. That’s more than
Western Michigan, North Dakota, and Minnesota Duluth, among others.
The challenge is getting those goals at even strength. Approximately
four of every 10 Cornell goals this year have come on the power
play. That’s helped put the Big Red back in the hunt for
the ECACHL title. After returning from the Florida College Classic,
the last 16 games on the schedule were all within the conference.
They’re 3-1-0 so far in that stretch, with the only blemish
a 1-0 loss at Harvard.
“After we got back from Florida we knew that all we had
were conference games,” junior forward and leading scorer
Matt Moulson said. “We really tied to focus on winning the
games we had to win to establish ourselves again as one of the
top teams in the conference.”
The test continues this weekend when surging Dartmouth and second-place
Vermont visit Lynah Rink. You can expect that the Faithful will
be extra-exuberant this weekend after not seeing their beloved
Big Red at home in seven weeks. The exam period and three road
trips have made it difficult, but Cornell has battled through
that and is ready for the closing weeks.
“You lose so much momentum during the three weeks of exams
that it takes a little bit of time to get it back going again.
We found ways to win in those games. We found a way to win against
Maine after being up 2-0 and blowing the lead and we found a way
against Union in overtime,” Schafer said. “I really
feel that we’re starting to build some momentum. The next
six games are going to determine a lot, not just in what’s
going to happen across our league, but also on a national scale.”
After this weekend, Cornell hosts Clarkson and St. Lawrence, then
plays a home-and-home with travel partner Colgate. For that to
be a successful stretch, it once again comes back to team defense.
Senior defenseman Charlie Cook has been around long enough to
know that defense is the calling card at Cornell.
“It is our number one priority and it’s a commitment
that we’ve all made. That’s the type of hockey we
play and that’s how we generate our offense,“ he said.
“We’ve got to come out ready to play every night.
Every guy knows his role on the team and knows to perform that
role. We’re a good team when that happens.”
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE ECACHL
Pondering Princeton – With the exam period
taking place at Princeton, it’s a good time to look back
on what’s gone right and what’s gone wrong for the
We’ll start with the positives. It hasn’t taken long
to see the impact that first-year coach Guy Gadowsky has had on
the Tigers’ offensive performance. Princeton has four players
leading the scoring charts through 12 conference games. Dustin
Sproat is averaging 1.75 points-per-game, and is followed by Luc
Paquin (1.42) and Grant Goeckner-Zoeller (1.33). Patrick Neundorfer
is tied for fourth with Harvard’s Tom Cavanagh at 1.17 points-per-game.
Gadowsky wants his players to score goals, and it’s paying
The negative is in the team’s recent performance, and team
defense. After a good start to the campaign, Princeton is 1-8
in its last nine, with the win coming against lowly American International.
The Tigers have allowed at least four goals in seven of the eight
losses and average 4.625 goals against in those eight games.
Princeton is third in the league in scoring offense, and 11th
in team defense.
Saints scoring defensemen – St. Lawrence
is enjoying a five-game winning streak and the top defense pairing
of Mike Madill and Drew Bagnall have a lot to do with the team’s
success. That tandem is pitching in offensively to support the
top line of T.J. Trevelyan, Stace Page, and John Zeiler.
Madill and Bagnall have combined for five goals and seven assists
in SLU’s last three games. Madill led the Saints to a big
7-2 win over rival Clarkson on Saturday with two goals and an
assist. Bagnall had two goals and three assists in a win over
Yale on Jan. 7.
Great Weekend Getaway
at Colgate (Fri.)
Dartmouth at Colgate (Sat.)
is in first place. Vermont is in second place and handed
Colgate its only loss in ECACHL play this year. The Raiders
look to give themselves a cushion in the standings and exact
some revenge on the Catamounts, and then face a red-hot
and dangerous Dartmouth team on Saturday. Colgate won the
first meeting, but came away very impressed with the Big
While You’re There: If you’re attending
Friday’s game, be sure to check out a pre-game tailgate
party at Donovan’s Pub which begins at 5 p.m. and
a bonfire at Whitnall Field beginning at 6 p.m. The Colgate
men’s basketball team also plays Friday night at 7
p.m. at Cotterell Court, which is adjacent to Starr Rink.
Be mindful of the crowds if you want to make the game on
The NHL work stoppage is
benefiting another ECACHL team. First, Flyers coach Ken
Hitchcock joined the Princeton staff and now Flyers
goalie Robert Esche is helping the players and coaches at
Colgate. Although, judging
by this picture in this press release, it looks like
Esche might be ready to take over for Steve Silverthorn.
miss you, Harvard and Princeton, while you’re
taking exams. Welcome back next week, as all ECACHL followers
will look forward to the closing weeks of the regular season
when the standings are more balanced and all of the teams
are in action.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• Brown played UMass Lowell to a 0-0 tie
on Wednesday night and faces another Hockey East opponent this
weekend, battling Providence for the Mayor’s Cup. Wednesday’s
game was the second 0-0 tie in Brown’s history. The first
came 107 years ago at Yale in the fourth ever varsity hockey game
played by Brown University.
Dartmouth/Vermont trip to Cornell/Colgate are the most eye-catching
games of the weekend, but don’t forget about the
importance of the St. Lawrence-Union game on Saturday
at Appleton Arena. The Saints enter the weekend just two points
behind the Dutchmen in the standings and have played one less
game. Both teams still harbor hopes of getting a first-round bye
in the ECACHL playoffs.
seemed to be turning the corner with a win over Clarkson
and a great goaltending performance from Matt Modelski (49 saves)
in a 1-0 loss to Boston College. New Hampshire then came to town
and scored eight goals, chasing Modelski after 33 minutes.
and Dartmouth will be missing key forwards for Friday’s
games at Colgate and Cornell. Vermont’s Torrey Mitchell
and Dartmouth’s Eric Prezpiorka received fighting majors
and disqualifications last Saturday.
took place at Clarkson and Golden Knight Jeff Genovy and St. Lawrence’s
Mark Wallmann were thrown out their game.
reflection on RPI’s recent slump: Kevin Croxton
hasn’t scored in RPI’s last 13 games. His
last goal came on Nov. 19 against Yale. The Engineers are mired
in a five-game losing streak.
Mike Ouellette got the national recognition last
week, including INCH’s
Player of the Week award, but wingers Nick Johnson and Lee
Stempniak were equally worthy. Johnson, a freshman, had the game-winning
goal against UNH and a total of seven points in Dartmouth’s
two wins. Stempniak had six assists in the two games.
thanks Cornell goaltender Dave McKee for participating
in The Show at ESPN.com on Thursday. If you missed it, read
the transcript here.
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of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.