Cornell University Big Red
3 seed vs. Northeastern, Midwest Regional (Grand Rapids, MI)
4:00 EDT, Saturday, March 28, ESPNU
Coach: Mike Schafer (265-148-49)
On January 19th, Cornell was at the top of the Pairwise. They'd had a near-perfect 13-1-3 start, losing only to North Dakota as part of a split in Grand Forks, and BU had stumbled just enough to cede the top spot. After a start like that, it was almost impossible for them not to falter, even without knowing that the toughest part of their schedule still lay ahead. The Big Red skidded to a 5-6-1 regular season finish, including two losses to Yale, one to Princeton, and an 8-1 shelling by St. Lawrence. Then, in their first game of the ECAC playoffs, they stumbled out of the gate in a 1-0 loss to Rensselaer and their tournament hopes hung by a thread. They responded the next night (without suspended coach Mike Schafer) with a solid 4-0 win and a 4-1 victory in Game 3. In the ECAC semi-finals in Albany, a 4-3 double OT win over Princeton secured their first NCAA berth since 2006 before falling 5-0 to Yale in the final.
It's defense that's gotten the Big Red to where they are. Cornell is the #4 team in terms of scoring defense, only giving up 2.00 goals per night. Goalie Ben Scrivens is stopping 93.3% of the shots he's seeing, and his GAA is down at 1.77. Nobody else has played significant time in net.
On offense, things haven't been brutal, but Cornell has the worst scoring offense in the tournament (39th overall). They average 2.59 goals per game, which gives them a much better +0.59 scoring margin – better than Vermont, Bemidji State, and New Hampshire among tournament teams. Top scorers Riley Nash and Colin Greening have been on separate lines for much of the season, but a rash of injuries could force a change there. Senior forward Derek Punches, 5th on the team in career goals, has had a particularly hard-luck year with a 0-0--0 line in 19 games.
Zero. Cornell has had not one, but two games this year end in a 0-0 tie, one at Quinnipiac and one at Clarkson. These were the only times the Big Red were held scoreless in the regular season, but added a pair of blankings in the playoffs. At the same time, they held their opponents scoreless a total of 7 times.
Results. Following Cornell's 1-0 loss to Rensselaer in their first game of the ECAC tournament, coach Mike Schafer ripped the officials for calling what he perceived to be a much looser game, and he made sure to do it to a group of reporters. For his actions, Schafer was suspended for the next night's game. Schafer has done this before, however, and it's yielded results: He was suspended in 2002 for comments about hitting from behind, but in 2003 penalty minutes for those hits went up dramatically in the ECAC (H/T: CHN)