This Week in the ECAC: February 17, 2000

Let The Others See Red The Big Red of Cornell have seen their season go many different ways this season. From up to down, to some of the Big Red being down and out.

The Big Red head into this weekend against Union and Rensselaer in their quest for home ice. After an 8-3 thrashing of Clarkson on Friday evening, the Big Red were ready to face St. Lawrence. The Big Red had pulled into a spot for home ice with the win over the Knights and were ready to make a move even higher in the standings.

Unfortunately, the Big Red ran into a few obstacles — a nationwide pizza chain and St. Lawrence.

After the win over Clarkson, the Big Red stopped for a post-game meal and woke up the next morning with the after-effects of the meal. Food poisoning was the suspect as the Big Red lost five players for the game (Matt McRae, Matt Underhill, Sam Paolini, Andrew McMeekin and Doug Stienstra) due to the illness that struck.

Facing the Saints, the Big Red hung in there, had the game tied at one midway through the third period, but eventually lost, 3-1.

“It was really unfortunate,” head coach Mike Schafer told Grady Whittenburg in his weekly Coaches Corner. “As the day progressed we kept losing more guys. Our guys were looking forward to Saturday’s game and they had played well on the road and they were ready to play again the next night. But when they have that kind of focus, you want to go ahead. It was an unbelievable effort for our players and it was easy for them to use it as an excuse, but they guys that played put forth a tremendous effort. That kind of adversity will help us in the next few weeks.”

The next week in particular will feature home games against Union and Rensselaer.

“Our destiny is in our own hands,” Schafer said. “[Union’s] sitting right there one game behind us and they’re right there from getting home ice. They play a very physical game and they pride themselves on that. They finish all their checks and that doesn’t bother us because we have a big physical team.”

The Big Red defeated the Dutchmen earlier in the season, 2-1 in overtime, after dropping their season opener to Rensselaer, 5-4, in overtime.

“We’re a lot different hockey team than we were in that game,” said Schafer. “We made a lot of first game mistakes and they always look forward to playing RPI. It’s a good clash of styles between our two teams and our guys feel very comfortable in our building and they play a physical style and I think that matches up very well with their style.”

In the touch and go world of the ECAC, and only three weekends left, every game is important.

“We plummeted from fourth with just one loss, and if we had won (against St. Lawrence), we’d be in fourth now,” said Schafer. “We hold our destiny in our own hands and a lot of the teams we are tied with, we face at home and I really like the position that we are in now.”

It’s About Time The St. Lawrence Saints cracked the Top Ten poll once again this week after being off of the radar screen since the end of November. We say, “It’s about time.”

The Saints went through a rough stretch in December and January, but a weekend series at Wisconsin seemed to turn things around.

Prior to that series, the Saints had gone 1-5-1 after starting the season 8-0-0. In that Wisconsin series, the Saints lost the first game, 4-1, but it was the second game that seemed to turn things around.

In the eight games before the second Wisconsin game, the Saints had scored 12 goals, and average of 1.50 goals per game. On that second night, the Saints broke out for six goals, and as the saying goes, they never looked back.

Since that point in time, the Saints have average 5.22 goals per game, and have gone 8-0-1. A nice little turnaround wouldn’t you say?

But it has only been now, after a nine game unbeaten streak, that the Saints have managed to crack the top ten once again.

It’s about time.

Lots Of Tiger Tales Here Princeton swept its second ECAC weekend of the year this past weekend with wins over Union and Rensselaer. The weekend in itself held many interesting stories for the Tigers.

The win over Union on Friday snapped a six game losing streak for the Tigers, the longest of the season for them and the longest winless streak since the 1992-93 season and the longest losing streak since the 1990-91 season.

The sweep propelled the Tigers from tenth place to a tie for fifth place in the ECAC standings.

The Princeton senior class earned win number 64, an all-time record for a class at Princeton.

Benoit Morin, who we featured last week, broke the unofficial record for penalty minutes in a career at Princeton with a roughing penalty against Union on Friday evening.

Brad Parsons broke out this weekend and was named the Co-ECAC Player of the Week.

And last, but not least, head coach Don “Toot” Cahoon let his players shave his head after the weekend sweep.

Giddy-Up! The race to the finish gets more interesting with each passing week in the ECAC. With three weeks remaining in the regular season, eight teams are legitimately jockeying for a home playoff position. Currently, St. Lawrence is the only team that doesn’t have to make hotel arrangements for the weekend of March 10 as they locked up a quarterfinal matchup at Appleton last weekend by sweeping Colgate and Cornell. The rest of the pack is an entirely different story. Colgate and Rensselaer appear to be sitting comfortably in second and third place with .700 and .633 winning percentages respectively, but that positioning could change this weekend when the two teams face off against each other in snowy upstate New York.

Following closely behind the Red Raiders and Engineers is a Dartmouth squad which — despite the Vermont controversy and subsequent schedule changes — has been quietly plowing through the regular season and has posted a 6-6-3 record. Normally a .500 record is nothing to write home about, let alone be good enough for home ice, but this is the ECAC after all. Only three teams — St. Lawrence, RPI and Colgate — boast winning league records this season and only those same three have winning overall records.

Dartmouth’s fourth-place positioning is a precarious one, however, as Yale and Princeton are a mere .031 behind them in the standings. Harvard, despite its five-game winless streak in ECAC play, is still in the running for home ice with a .467 as is the food-poisoned Cornell team, which currently sits in eighth place with a .433 winning percentage. Are you beginning to understand what a mess this playoff situation is at the moment? The entire outlook could change dramatically — beginning this weekend. Instead of previewing each game, we have selected three key match-ups that will no doubt have serious playoff implications. Rensselaer at Colgate — Aside from St. Lawrence, these two teams have been the most consistent in the league. It’s not often you can say that about RPI and Colgate, eh? Both teams have been showing weaknesses as of late. In the past two weeks, the Red Raiders managed a tie against Harvard and then endured a 5-1 loss against St. Lawrence. But let’s not forget that the Red Raiders were also without the services of Andy McDonald and Sean Nolan for that game, and were missing Shep Harder the weekend before for game disqualifications. RPI has had its low moments as well, the most recent coming last Saturday when it fell 4-3 to Princeton and are still faced with the possibility of only one goaltender this weekend as Joel Laing’s status is still questionable.

The first meeting between these two teams ended in a 4-2 Colgate victory, yet the contest was more of a battle of special teams. Five of the goals came with a man advantage, while the sixth (and final) tally was a shorthanded effort by Brad Tapper. Dartmouth at Princeton — This Sunday afternoon contest should be very interesting. Not only do you have the fourth and fifth place teams facing off against each other, you also have arguably the two youngest and most unpredictable teams in the league battling for home ice. Earlier in the season, the Big Green erased an early 3-1 deficit to the Tigers in Hanover to salvage a point in the 5-5 tie. If you’re talking recent momentum, Dartmouth is coming off two straight league losses to Rensselaer and Brown, whereas Princeton stunned many Tiger naysayers with a weekend sweep of Union and Rensselaer.

Brad Parsons did serious damage against the Engineers by posting his first collegiate hat trick on Saturday night and appears to have emerged as a legitimate scoring threat. The first line of Parsons, Ethan Doyle and Chris Corrinet is already being compared to past Tiger trios as The Orange Line and Suburban Snipers. Although the Big Green are in the midst of a losing streak, Bob Gaudet’s squad couldn’t have been too disappointed after a 2-1 loss to Brown. Frustration is probably a better word after Dartmouth pelted Scott Stirling with 32 shots, while Nick Boucher faced only 16 shots in the loss. Clarkson at Harvard — It’s been a long time since the Crimson beat the Golden Knights. Four years to be exact. The last time that Harvard posted a win against Clarkson was on Dec. 7, 1996 — when the current seniors were freshmen. The Crimson appeared poised to end the dreadful streak earlier in the year, but the Golden Knights quickly ended that thought by scoring four unanswered goals in the final 27:18 to pull out the 5-2 victory at Cheel.

By virtue of its schedule, Clarkson could take a serious leap in the standings this weekend, however. All the Golden Knights would have to do is knock off hapless Brown and extend its winning streak against the Crimson to eight games. The key for Clarkson on Saturday night against Harvard will be its defense. In its last 10 meetings with Clarkson (dating back to the 1995-96 season), Harvard has scored more than two goals just one time and that was during the 1996-97 season. The good news for Harvard is that Clarkson is allowing opponents to score 3.46 goals per game this season and most recently gave up 12 goals in two games.

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