Lines Changes Fortunes For Cornell
Cornell went south after Christmas hoping
to bring back the Harkness Cup from the Florida College
Classic. The Big Red gave themselves an opportunity to play
in the finals leading UMass-Lowell 2-1 heading into the
third period of the semifinal game. The River Hawks foiled
that plan with a pair of third-period goals to send the
Big Red to the third place game against Clarkson. That game
followed a similar pattern, as Cornell carried a 3-0 lead
into the final period only to see Clarkson come back and
earn a 3-3 tie.
Evan Barlow had four points in last weekend's sweep
The Big Red went on to win a shootout, but
losing a pair of leads heading into the final 20 minutes
on consecutive days was totally uncharacteristic of Cornell
hockey. Losing just one such game hadn't happened in five
years. Two in the same weekend? Unfathomable.
That late-December Florida trip was Cornell's
first action since a clunker against Boston University at
Madison Square Garden and a 0-0 tie against Massachusetts
in late November.
They responded by revisiting the true characteristics
of a Mike Schafer coached team – focus, intensity,
attention to detail, execution. Those ideals led to a two-game
sweep of Niagara that improved Cornell's overall record
to 6-5-2 heading into the final 16 games of the regular
season, all of which take place within ECAC Hockey.
"We've really tried to focus on the process
and wanting to play our best hockey going through January
and February," Schafer said. "In all those games
we did a good job and haven't finished. That's a lesson
that every team has to learn, how to win, how to finish
and we're getting better and better at it."
Early indicators of a January surge are very
positive for the Big Red. The first is the offensive production
generated by three balanced scoring lines and a physical,
hard-working fourth line that has popped in a couple of
goals in Cornell's last four games.
Michael Kennedy is among the primary beneficiaries
of the new line combinations. He has been centering senior
co-captains Topher Scott and Raymond Sawada since the start
of the Florida tournament. After not scoring in his first
nine games of the year, he's scored in four straight and
has a total of five goals in that stretch.
"We've generated a lot of chances, and
I've been very pleased with our offense. UMass-Lowell, Clarkson,
when we played University of Massachusetts here we struggled
in the first period and a half and then we got it going.
We haven't capitalized, and that's been kind of our story
for the first half. You have to have offense that doesn't
depend on one line," Schafer said.
Another new combination includes Tyler Mugford,
Blake Gallagher, and Evan Barlow. That trio had just seven
points combined in 28 games prior to the Niagara series,
but totaled seven points in the weekend.
"We seem to be rolling together pretty
well, not only our line but all the lines. It seems that
everybody was feeding off of each other," Gallagher
said. "Guys were flying and buzzing and anytime you
have a good week of practice like we did and get familiar
with each other you're going to generate chances like that."
While the short-term success is satisfying,
a big-picture element must also be considered. Cornell plays
six of its eight games in January at Lynah Rink, after having
played just three true home games in October, November,
and December. Getting some momentum on home ice was crucial.
"It's nice to play at home, where the
fans have been great for us all year. It's important for
us to get these games at home and make sure we put in a
good effort, and get the points when we can. It's a luxury
to play here with fans like that," Gallagher said.
"You're not going to find that anywhere else probably
in the country. We have to feed off of them and we definitely
don't take it for granted."
SEEN AND HEARD IN ECAC HOCKEY
Ex-Partners, No Crime: Not
too long ago, Yale and Princeton played in ECAC Hockey as
travel partners on the conference schedule. During those
times, they probably would have been ranked near the bottom
of a poll measuring the toughest weekend series in the league.
They're no longer travel partners, but this
season a back-to-back weekend against those two Ivy League
schools would be no fun at all, as both the Bulldogs and
Tigers are improved and find themselves among the top four
teams in the ECAC standings heading into this weekend.
Yale (7-4-3, 4-2-3 ECAC Hockey) has won four
of its last five games, dropping only a game at WCHA member
Minnesota State in that run. Princeton (8-8-0, 6-4-0 ECAC
Hockey) has won three straight games to even its overall
record, including sweeping an ECAC Hockey weekend at home
against Dartmouth and Harvard last weekend.
Sean Backman is pacing Yale in recent games,
with a seven-game point streak and goals in five straight
games. He leads the Bulldogs this season with 14 points
in 12 games. Princeton broke up its proficient line combination
of Lee Jubinville, Brett Wilson, and Cam MacIntyre for last
weekend's sweep. It sparked two forward lines over the weekend
and each recorded at least one point.
The two teams will get a chance to face one
another on Friday at Yale's Ingalls Rink. Princeton defeated
Yale 6-2 in a non-league game earlier this season.
Great Weekend Getaway
at Yale (Fri.)
Quinnipiac at Yale (Sat.)
Three of the top four teams in the ECAC Hockey standings
go head-to-head this weekend at Ingalls Rink, and
all three come into the weekend with momentum. Earning
points this weekend will be a huge step toward chasing
down a top-four spot and first round bye in the playoffs.
While You're There: Stick around
for a Sunday matinee (4 p.m.) down the road in the
American Hockey League when the Bridgeport Sound Tigers
host the Binghamton Senators. The Sound Tigers will
be wearing special camouflage jerseys on their Salute
to the Armed Forces Day.
game at Cornell was already decided in the final minute,
but the Big Red coaching staff shuffled its lines
to get one more shift for Evan Barlow and Michael
Kennedy. Each had two goals and could've recorded
a hat trick.
won the first two Commissioner's Cup trophies, measuring
standings in select games between members of the six
conferences. That reign is over, as ECAC Hockey teams
are just 2-5-1 through eight games so far.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM
OF THE BAG
• If you can't make it out to the Capital
District rinks this weekend, Friday's Cornell-Rensselaer
game in Troy, N.Y. will be shown throughout the northeast
on Time Warner Sports in New York and also on SportsNet
New York. Time Warner Sports will also broadcast Saturday's
Cornell game at Union.
• Sunday's St. Lawrence-Dartmouth game
will be broadcast on ESPNU.
• Dartmouth is playing its first games
at home since Nov. 24 when it hosts Clarkson and St. Lawrence
this weekend. The Big Green will make up their originally
scheduled Dec. 13 game at Boston University on Tuesday.
The first meeting was canceled due to snow.
• Harvard's winless streak now stands
at seven games after a tie and loss at Quinnipiac and Princeton.
The Crimson have played only one home game in that stretch,
a 7-2 loss to Boston College in mid-December. St. Lawrence
and Clarkson visit Bright Hockey Center this weekend.
• Brown's winless streak is at 10 games
(0-8-2), including four one-goal losses.
• Union earned a pair of non-league
wins last weekend at home against Connecticut and at Army
in dramatic fashion. Three third-period goals led to the
4-1 victory over UConn and Union trailed by a goal twice
against Army before rallying for a 3-2 win.
• Cornell goalie Ben Scrivens had a
shutout streak at Lynah Rink that spanned four games and
more than 163 minutes, and included shutouts against UMass
• Clarkson got a big win over Boston
College last weekend, boosting its overall record against
non-ECAC opponents to 5-3-0 with two games at Colorado College
still remaining this season. Nick Dodge scored a short-handed
goal to give Clarkson a 2-1 lead over BC last weekend. It
was the eighth shortie of Dodge's career, tying him with
Erik Cole for the career lead in short-handed tallies at
• Quinnipiac is 6-0-1 in its last seven
games including a tournament victory at Vermont's Catamount
Cup where the Bobcats defeated host Vermont 4-1 in the championship
game. Bud Fisher and Pat McGann will handle the bulk of
the goaltending duties in the second half for the Bobcats
after Peter Vetri was dismissed from the team following
the first semester.
• Xerox and RPI have purchased more
than 100 tickets to Friday's game against Cornell and have
donated them to Northeast Parent & Child Society.
• Colgate hasn't played since the Badger
Showdown in Madison during the holidays, but Jesse Winchester
had a point on all three Colgate goals that weekend. He
needs just three more points to become the 47th player in
Raider history to reach the 100-point milestone.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report. Joe Gladziszewski can be
reached at email@example.com.