11 , 2003
are not the 1985 Edmonton Oilers; in fact, they bear a closer
resemblance to the New Jersey Devils team that captured
the Stanley Cup 10 years later.
But the Cornell Big Red are what they are – efficient,
aware, structured, and safe – and most of the time,
Instead of looking down at Cornell for its shortcomings,
admire its stubbornness. Coach Mike Schafer has installed
a rock-solid defensive game plan and recruited the right
type of student-athletes to fit into his system. It's resulted
in winning hockey, including three consecutive trips to
the ECAC Championship game, back-to-back NCAA Tournament
appearances, and a Frozen Four berth.
Success in Ithaca comes from hard work, a team-first approach,
and making smart plays with and without the puck. They won't
win many of the 7-5 types of games that North Dakota and
Boston College are known for.
Vesce and his Cornell mates got back to basics in their
1-0 win against Harvard.
things weren't going so well for Cornell early in the season,
Schafer pointed at mental mistakes and not playing within
the system. And seemingly each time those mistakes occurred,
it resulted in a red light being turned on behind Big Red
freshman goaltender David McKee.
Inexperience probably contributed to the team's 0-2-4 start
at Lynah Rink, where five freshmen suit up on a nightly
basis in front of the rookie netminder. Those growing pains
have healed. Cornell looks to be hitting its stride after
a three-point weekend against Brown and Harvard.
One night after rallying with a pair of third period power-play
goals to tie league-leading Brown 3-3, Cornell put the clamps
down in a 1-0 win over Harvard.
Cornell had plenty of chances to score, but Crimson goaltender
Dov Grumet-Morris was up to the task with spectacular saves
to keep the game scoreless. Eventually, Cornell scored a
goal that typified their reputation – point shot,
traffic, power-play goal. That was followed by 15 minutes
of hanging on, and yet another one-goal victory over hated
The Big Red went about their business in a 'been there,
done that' manner.
"That's us," Schafer declared. "You had better
be comfortable playing those types of games, because the
better teams you play, the difference between winning and
losing is going to be a lost face-off or a bad penalty or
a bounce here or there. There's not a lot to differentiate
between a lot of college teams right now, so you'd better
be comfortable playing these games. There's going to be
a lot of them."
Last year Cornell played in 13 one-goal games (winning nine)
and used empty-net goals in a pair of two-goal victories.
Senior winger Greg Hornby cited his team's mental make-up
as a reason for its ability to pull out the nailbiters.
"We do well in close games. We play really disciplined
within our systems and we can outwork teams and can protect
a lead like that. We've just got to be solid mentally and
hold on to the lead, something we do well," he said.
Schafer's overall evaluation of the first half of the season
"We are getting better and better each week, and we
are continuing to develop as a team. We're 4-0-2 in the
league heading into exams and that's right where we wanted
to be," he said.
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE ECAC
Friday Night's All Right: The Princeton Tigers,
which surpassed their win total from all of last season
by tallying victory number four with a 4-0 shutout of Union
at Messa Rink last week, are playing their best games on
the first night of each weekend.
Three of their four victories have come on Fridays. The
other win was on a Tuesday night. In its first two Friday-night
games of the year, Princeton lost in overtime to St. Cloud
State and Colgate.
The Tigers are proving to be much tougher than last year's
group that was just 3-26-2, and they're getting it done
with minimal contibutions from senior forward Chris Owen.
He has just one goal in 12 games this year after leading
the team in scoring last season.
Sophomore goaltender Eric Leroux has played in all 12 Princeton
games and recently recorded shutouts over Yale and Union,
the first of his college career.
Legendary Tiger basketball coach Pete Carril was known for
his back-door cutting offense which often led to layups.
Hockey coach Len Quesnelle's troops are proving to be anything
but an easy two points.
Looking For A Spark: When In the moments
following Harvard's loss at Cornell on Saturday night –
a loss that left Harvard's senior class with the dubious
honor of never having won at Lynah Rink –
there was disappointment in the result, but not the effort.
Senior right wing Tyler Kolarik (from this writer's viewpoint
the best forward on the ice Saturday night) said the Crimson
are doing the things that should soon lead to wins.
"I just think the team had a focus tonight. It's a
focus you have to bring every night, and we haven't brought
it every night," he said.
Harvard's had a knack for following up strong performances
with weak efforts, and the up-and-down season hasn't generated
any momentum. The Crimson feel as if a small winning streak
would set the team in motion.
"That's kind of what we need is to really just get
a streak going, get something going for us. We get a couple
of good wins and then we fall off a bit," senior Dennis
Kolarik says that some doubt may be setting in, but has
faith that the Crimson's fortunes will soon change for the
think there might be a little lack of confidence. Guys are
questioning themselves a little bit about scoring goals
and things like that, but I have no doubt that this team
is going to turn it around," Kolarik, an assistant
captain, said. "I know the guys in the locker room,
and I know that they all have heart in there and I know
that we're going to get it done."
Great Weekend Getaway
at Harvard (Sat.)
The schedule doesn't have much to offer,
but this should be a treat. Two teams that are found
in this week's INCH Power Rankings, No. 11 UMass and
No. 17 Harvard, take to the ice looking for a quality
win heading into the latter stages of December. It's
desperately needed in Cambridge, following Wednesday's
loss to Boston College that left Harvard at 5-5-1
on the year. Take special note of the 5 p.m. faceoff
at the Bright Center.
While you're there: The early-evening game leaves
plenty of time to explore the Boston nightlife afterward,
including the 5th Annual Boston Hip Hop Festival at
Middle East nightclub. Tickets are between $15 and
$18 and festivites begin at 8 p.m.
Yale, a team apparently headed in
the right direction at the holiday break. A recent
three-game winning streak against conference foes,
interrupted only by a non-conference loss to Boston
University, has propelled Yale up the standings. The
Bulldogs are averaging 4.0 goals per game in the stretch,
after scoring just 2.2 goals per game over their first
nine contests, winning only two of those.
Union Dutchmen are clearly headed
in the other direction. Union is mired in a three-game
losing streak and each of those losses has been by
three goals or more. While the Dutchmen were once
7-2-3 and recognized in national polls, their record
has now crept closer to the .500 mark with a showdown
at Wisconsin in the Badger Holiday Classic on Dec.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Yale junior Joe Callahan played the first
nine games of the season as a defenseman before being shifted
to the wing for two games. He returned to the blueline last
Friday as Yale visited Rensselaer, and
it sparked his offensive output. Callahan had a hat trick
in Yale's 5-4 win, the first by a Bulldog blueliner since
A three-week hiatus looms for Yale, before they head west
to take part in the Denver Cup with Nebraska-Omaha, Niagara,
and the host Pioneers. Of course, the Bulldogs are hoping
for better results than their last western trip, a pair
of season-opening defeats at No. 1 North Dakota.
• Vermont has had more captaincy
changes than victories. The winless Catamounts, the last
team in men's Division I college hockey not to have picked
up a victory this year, made a change in their leadership
structure. Senior Jeff Miles relinquished his captaincy
over the weekend, and the team elected sophomore Jaime Sifers
to serve as co-captain with senior Oriel McHugh. Brady Leisenring
will be the team's lone assistant captain for the rest of
• While Princeton is getting its
best performances on Fridays, Colgate seems
to prefer Saturdays. The Raiders are 3-0-1 in their last
four Saturday games including 6-1 wins over Clarkson
and Brown. Something must be up in Hamilton,
as the Colgate football team (Division I-AA semifinalists)
has also been great on Saturdays.
• The lone ECAC player named to Team USA for the upcoming
World Junior Championships in Finland is Dylan Reese, but
of the eight defensemen on the preliminary roster, Reese
has played the least hockey so far this season. Reese, a
freshman defenseman at Harvard, has missed
the Crimson's last five games with a back injury and dressed
in only six games overall. He missed Wednesday's 3-2 loss
to Boston College, but could be back in the lineup for the
home game against Massachusetts on Saturday evening.
• Schafer said that any fuss over Cornell's
six-game winless streak on home ice was created by the media
and didn't affect the Cornell locker room. "You guys
(the media) have made a big deal about the first home win
and our guys haven't," Schafer said after the Harvard
game. "Our guys have focused on what they should be
focused on, and that's getting better each week. We've had
some good teams come in here."
• The Harvard-UMass game in Cambridge
is featured as the Great Weekend Getaway in this edition
of the ECAC Notebook, but Hockey East correspondent Nate
Ewell makes mention of another ECAC-Hockey East pairing
as Dartmouth visits Maine. Make that two
of us on the INCH staff that are looking forward to it.
Should be a good one.
• You probably know by now that St. Lawrence
sophomore T.J. Trevelyan is the INCH Player of the Week,
following his six-point weekend against UMass Lowell and
New Hampshire. He single-handedly put an end to the Saints
scoring woes with a goal and three assists in a 5-4 win
over UMass Lowell. It snapped a four-game Saint skid during
which they only scored two goals.
Unlike Trevelyan, former INCH Player of the Week, Brown
goalie Yann Danis, didn't have such a good weekend. Nine
goals against in slightly five and a half periods is out
of character for a senior that's making some noise among
early Hobey Baker contenders.
It seems like every team in the nation heads somewhere for
a holiday tournament, and they've got Rensselaer
to thank. This year's Rensselaer/HSBC Holiday Tournament
is the 53rd edition of the event, making it the oldest of
all college hockey holiday tournaments. This year's field
includes Colgate, Northeastern, and Mercyhurst.
Shame on you if you're not regularly checking the INCH Newsstand.
Santa knows who's been naughty. Plus, you might have missed
Schott's notebook that featured injured Union
captain Glenn Sanders' first comments since being twice
hospitalized from injuries suffered in a game.
St. Lawrence has played 18 games, while
Dartmouth has played just nine times.
variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this