January 20, 2005
Cornell Looks Past Numbers Game

By Joe Gladziszewski

ECACHL Notebook

Matt Moulson is Cornell's leading scorer and his stats reflect the team's offensive output. Eight of his 11 goals have come on the power play.

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The numbers 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 that category.

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.”


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 Tigers.

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 off.

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.

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Vermont at Colgate (Fri.)
Dartmouth at Colgate (Sat.)
Colgate 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 Green.

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 time.

Stick Salute

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.

Bench Minor

We 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.


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.

• The 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.

Yale 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.

Vermont 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.

Another scrap took place at Clarkson and Golden Knight Jeff Genovy and St. Lawrence’s Mark Wallmann were thrown out their game.

• A 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.

• Dartmouth’s 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.

• INCH thanks Cornell goaltender Dave McKee for participating in The Show at ESPN.com on Thursday. If you missed it, read the transcript here.

The player nomination stage of Vote for Hobey ends Sunday. Register and nominate as many players as you would like.

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.

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