(CSTV U-WIRE) ITHACA, N.Y. — Because the No. 3 men’s hockey team is ranked higher in the national polls than any of its ECACHL counterparts, many of its opponents often circle the date when Cornell comes to town.
This weekend, Clarkson and St. Lawrence have extra incentive to put their best effort forth against the Red — because not only is Cornell the highest-ranked team in the conference, it is also in first place in the ECACHL after sweeping Colgate this past weekend.
The Golden Knights (13-13-2, 6-9-1 ECACHL) and the Saints (15-12-1, 9-7-0) will each attempt to knock the Red from its perch atop the league, as Cornell heads to the North Country for a two-game set. The first stop on the trip will be Potsdam, N.Y., on Friday night when the Red skates with Clarkson at Cheel Arena before taking the short trip to Canton, N.Y., to play against St. Lawrence at Appleton Arena.
The weekend slate marks the first full road weekend for the Red since Jan. 13-14, when the team defeated Quinnipiac, 6-0, but was shut out by Princeton, 3-0.
“I think that when you go up [to play Clarkson and St. Lawrence], you’ve got to be disciplined, and you have to be patient,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “Those are two things, on the road, that can lead to success.”
While the Red comes into the weekend a winner of five of its last six games and unbeaten in 15 of its last 16, Clarkson and St. Lawrence have had no such luck lately. The Golden Knights come into the game losers of seven of their last eight games, while the Saints come in having lost five of their last six.
Those statistics look even worse when noting that each of the team’s wins during those stretches was against the other team, as both won their home half of a home-and-home series on Jan. 27-28. Part of the reason why those were the only wins for the Golden Knights and the Saints is because those games were the only home games for the travel partners during their respective losing streaks.
The long road stretch for both squads included a trip to Lynah Rink, where the Red disposed of then-No. 10 St. Lawrence, 5-2, before taking down Clarkson, 4-2, the next night.
Despite the Red’s relative ease blowing by both teams earlier this season, the squad expects this weekend to be much more difficult, as each team has won nine games on their respective home ice. Schafer also mentioned that he hopes his own team will not fall into the same trap its opponents have fallen into going on the road this weekend.
“We want to be aggressive and play physical on the road, and these teams will at home,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “A lot of teams are able to play physical at home, but not on the road, and that’s one of the things we need to be successful at.”
Schafer also noted that even though the team is still entrenched in a battle with Colgate and a handful of other teams for the league title, there is only one thing on the minds of his team.
“There’s no urgency,” Schafer said. “The urgency is to get ready for [Clarkson and] St. Lawrence. There’s still six games left, and that’s a lot of hockey. It sounds like cliches all the time ? [but] teams stay focused on the game at hand and not worry about where they’re in the standings, and points, and scoreboard watching, just take care of yourself, and that’s what our objective is this weekend.”
Despite its recent hot streak, the Red realizes what got it to this point and what it must continue to do.
“I think [the success has been a result of] work ethic and paying attention to details,” said junior goaltender David McKee. “Last weekend, we had guys who were really working hard, and that was one of the things that pushed us to two wins.”