In the immediate
aftermath of yet another close loss, in a game in which the Cornell
Big Red scored just one goal, the first question posed to head
coach Mike Schafer seemed appropriate.
do you have to do to get more goals?"
2-1 loss at Colgate was Cornell's third straight defeat and fifth
loss in seven games, all of which were ECAC contests. The Red
scored only six goals over those seven games. Take away the 2-0
win over last-place Vermont and it's four goals from six games.
Schafer, what do you have to do to get more goals?
goals? Just put it in the back of the net," Schafer grumbled,
before quickly changing the subject. "I think you have to
understand that I'm very, very proud of our hockey team, the way
we played tonight. As disappointed as I was with the lack of discipline
last night, I'm as proud as I can be of our hockey team to come
back here tonight with 10 forwards and four defensemen. It's as
short-handed as I've had a hockey team."
consideration, Schafer probably wasn't trying to avoid a sore
subject. And he wasn't using the team's significant injury woes
as an excuse for its meager offensive output. He was merely making
a statement of fact about the current state of the Big Red –
and that fact is that they'll be hurting for goals until a full,
healthy lineup takes the ice.
injury is to senior center Ryan Vesce, who has been playing with
a nagging injury since the team's home weekend against Brown and
Harvard in early December. In the last two months, Vesce's practice
time has been severely limited, and his offensive output has gone
down steadily. Beginning with the Harvard game on Dec. 6, Vesce
recorded just one goal and four assists in 10 games. Three of
those assists came in the win at Harvard on Jan. 9. And Vesce
won't be back in the near future.
going to be out for a while," Schafer said. "He's not
practiced with us since Dec. 5 in a full practice. He's one of
the toughest players I've ever coached; it's just come to a head
that he has to get healthy. He's not going to play in our lineup
again until he's 100 percent and nothing else."
had to make the decision with Ryan Vesce and a couple of other
guys to stay out of the lineup. Talk about how hard it is to score
goals, the extent of our injuries that will never be revealed,
it's very difficult."
out injured, and Byron Bitz missed the Saturday game due to a
one-game suspension, meaning two-thirds of the team's first line
watched in warm-up suits. That left leading scorer, sophomore
Matt Moulson, skating on a line with Mike Iggulden and Mark McCutcheon.
The team was also without standout defenseman Charlie Cook, and
forwards Mitch Carefoot and Cam Abbott, all due to injury. Freshman
defenseman Ryan O'Byrne joined Bitz on the suspended list.
the Big Red's search for offense begins with getting the puck
to the net. Cornell had only 14 shots on goal in the Saturday
loss to Colgate and the team's lone goal was a seeing-eye shot
from the left point by defenseman Ben Wallace.
can't break out of a slump unless you get some shots, that's pretty
much all you can do," Moulson said. "That's pretty much
all I can say, just keep getting shots, try to make your own opportunities
and hope that they go in."
So what to
do about the next few weeks? Cornell's solution is to rely on
its strengths. Look for tight defense, smart decisions with the
puck, and continued excellent play from freshman goaltender David
McKee to pull the team through the last four weeks of the ECAC
has injuries, but this is the most injuries I've ever had, and
you've got to fight through it. That's what we're doing right
now," Schafer said. "We've decided that we've got to
play a certain way, being disciplined as we were tonight, be even
more defensive. Stay above people and try to frustrate people
and wait our time until we get a full roster back so that we can
play the way we want to play."
AND HEARD IN THE ECAC
Banter – In keeping with the topic of teams performing
below expectations, we turn our attention to Harvard, where 20
days away from the rink gave the preseason favorite a chance to
renew itself and prepare for a late-season run. But, things didn't
change for Harvard after the break. Losses to travel partner Brown
and No. 2 Boston College in the opening round of the Beanpot on
Monday have Harvard sitting at 8-11-2 overall on the year, and
in eighth place in the ECAC with a 6-8-1 record.
Doomed by two unlucky bounces in the first period
against Boston College, and trailing 3-1 heading into the third
period, the Crimson controlled play and had several chances to
get back into the game. With momentum clearly on its side, Harvard's
third-period comeback attempt was thwarted by two penalties. Coach
Mark Mazzoleni was not happy with his team's discipline.
"I thought our discipline was not where it
should be. We took some very, very unnecessary penalties especially
in the third period when we were making a bit of a charge. We
took the wind right out of our sails with two to three consecutive
penalties," he said.
Harvard's Beanpot record over the last several
years is not good. The Crimson hasn't played in the championship
game since 1998, and this marks the 12th straight year without
a title. For the second straight year, however, the team's fortunes
have been helped by some scheduling consideration from the ECAC.
In the weekend prior to each Beanpot Monday, the Crimson plays
only one game.
"This sure gives you a chance to be on an
equal playing field," Mazzoleni said. "I'm very appreciative
toward our league that they've done that for us. It was a vote
by our league members to allow us to put our best foot forward
on behalf of our league. It's just unfortunate that we haven't
had the results with it yet."
flate plane – That's the message that Colgate's
players are getting from the coaching staff every day in practice
and following almost every shift of every game. The concept is
for the Raiders to stay at a consistently high level, and that
mentality is a big reason for the team's current six-game winning
A weekend sweep of Cornell was the latest Raider
triumph, and the coaching staff is taking an "ain't broke,
don't fix it" approach.
"It's pretty hard to find a way to say differently
the same message, and that is to keep a consistently high, flat
line. That's what we want to do," interim head coach Stan
Saturday's win saw senior goaltender David Cann
step in for the suspended Steve Silverthorn (fighting) and allow
only one goal on 14 shots. It was Cann's first start since the
semifinals of the Rensselaer/HSBC Holiday Tournament on Dec. 28.
"We're not trying to get on a roller coaster
ride right now, we're trying to stay up and play straight across,"
The senior also said that the Raiders have their
sights set on the NCAA Tournament, but haven't lost focus on the
job at hand. Colgate's last NCAA appearance came in the 1999-2000
"This is great," Cann said. "I
think this is the most successful our team has been in a long
time, since Shep Harder and Andy McDonald were here in 2000 and
1999. It's kind of reminiscent of that, that same feeling. We'd
like to repeat it, kind of get back to the NCAA Tournament, but
first and foremost we've got to play in the league and win as
many games as possible and keep the streak alive."
Fellow senior Kyle Doyle attributed Colgate's
excellent season to good team rapport.
"Our team chemistry is really good this year.
Some teams you're on the guys don't hang out. The freshmen and
seniors might not hang out off the ice, but this team is together.
We all believe that we can win, and we can do this," Doyle
Great Weekend Getaway
Clarkson at Rensselaer (Sat.)
It's the 27th annual Big Red Freakout! and you've
got to know somebody to get in. The game is sold out, as
the Engineers welcome their North Country rivals in a game
that brings out the best in RPI's fans. This year especially
should also bring out the best in both teams. Just three
points separate fifth-place RPI and seventh-place Clarkson
entering this weekend. The Engineers are 15-7-4 all time
in the Freakout! game, and unbeaten (9-0-4) in the last
You're There: Plenty of festivities surround the Freakout!
including an alumni game scheduled for Saturday at noon
at Houston Field House. Fifty former players will return
from the last fifty years of Rensselaer hockey including
11 members of the 1954 National Championship team will be
on hand. Admission to the alumni game is free of charge.
Prior to the game Saturday night, the '54 champs and head
coach Ned Harkness will be presented with championship rings,
in recognition of the school's title 50 years ago.
You know what's wrong with Colgate's sweaters?
Nothing. The same can be said for most teams in the league,
with simple, basic, designs. Trying to read the italicized
font on the back of the Boston College sweater and the funky
lowercase print donned by Northeastern from the Fleet Center
press box gave me an even greater appreciation for the basic
look of the majority of the teams in the ECAC.
they were caught up in the excitement of the moment, but
you'd think that an army of sports information staffers
at the Beanpot on Monday would have noticed Harvard's goaltending
change came immediately following the BC goal at 3:01, rather
than the next stoppage at 3:20.
second 'bad loss'
in a span of three weeks was a 7-0 blowout by Union, in
the Big Green's Thompson Arena, no less. For a team that
was poised to make a move for the ECAC regular-season title,
dropping games to the 11th and 12th place teams hurts that
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Joe Zappala continued his late-game heroics by scoring
with three seconds left in overtime to give Yale a 4-3 win at
Clarkson on Saturday. In a conversation with
Zappala earlier this year, he lauded the efforts of goaltender
Josh Gartner, and things haven't changed in that regard. Gartner
was the ECAC Goalie of the Week with 80 saves in one-goal wins
over St. Lawrence and Clarkson.
goalie Kris Mayotte, upon posting his second consecutive
shutout at Dartmouth, had this beauty of a quote
for Ken Schott of the Schenectady Daily Gazette. "If
I played for Dartmouth, I would be going to 'The Show' next year,"
two wins this weekend, Rensselaer coach Dan Fridgen
(currently at 175) will surpass Ned Harkness (176 wins) as the
second all-time winningest coach in school history. Harkness will
be in town this weekend as the school celebrates the 50th anniversary
of the Engineers' 1954 National Championship.
bright spot for Cornell is the play of freshman
goaltender David McKee. The Texan is a member of the INCH
All-Non-Hotbed team. His play thus far has taken much of the
sting out of the loss of David LeNeveu to the pro ranks over the
"He's done a very solid job for us, as he
has from the start of the year," Schafer said of his rookie
goalie. "We're very pleased that that guy answered the question
that everybody thought we had in the net."
to see a full house at Starr Rink on Saturday for Cornell's
visit, but as is the case with most big games, some of
the more casual fans attended strictly for the chance to throw
things on the ice (packs of Big Red gum during the starting lineups).
Some fans continued to throw things throughout the game, which
certainly irked Colgate public address announcer
Joe Caprio. His numerous, spirited pleas for better fan behavior
included this second-period salvo:
"PLEASE refrain from throwing objects on
the ice. It's English! You SHOULD Underrrrr Staaaaand!"
allowing a soft goal against Boston College early in the second
period, Harvard goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris
was yanked in favor of Jon Daigneau, who played very well over
the final two periods. So well, in fact, that Daigneau could get
the start tonight when Harvard visits Yale.
"It's something we have to look at,"
Mazzoleni said. "We're at a point now in our season that
if we're going to turn this thing we need consistency in all parts
of our game."
The game, which starts at 8 p.m., is the first
of a CSTV Game of the Week doubleheader.
big win for Vermont, and head coach Kevin Sneddon,
as the Catamounts defeated Union 3-1 on Friday
night, the school where Sneddon coached for the previous five
Princeton is winless in nine games since beating Harvard
on Dec. 16.
Bob Bland was inducted to the Beanpot Hockey Hall of Fame this
year. He helped lead the Crimson to Beanpot titles in 1960 and
of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.