Wednesday, March 24, 2010

East #2: Cornell

Cornell University Big Red

2 seed vs. New Hampshire, East Regional (Times Union Center, Albany, NY)
ECAC Tournament Champions
Record: 21-8-4
Coach: Mike Schafer

Bow down before your Ivy League overlords, the masters of two sports! The only school in the NCAA Men's Hockey Bracket with a team in the Sweet Sixteen for basketball*, this could be a weekend of sports nerd-vana for the Ithacans. On Thursday night, the Big Red will stare down the Wildcats of Kentucky in a Regional Semi-Final game at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, a mere 60 miles from campus. The next night, the Big Red play in Albany against New Hampshire, leading to the tantalizing (or nightmarish) prospect of trying to be in two places at the same time as the basketball regional would tip off at 4:30 in Syracuse and the hockey team would drop the puck at 6:30 in Albany. But, one step at a time.

The school that gave the world Ken Dryden (Cornell '69) and Brian Cropper (Cornell '71, the only goalie to backstop a team to a perfect season, 29-0-0 in 1970) is once more led by a goaltender, in this case Ben Scrivens (Cornell '10), who is posting a goal against average of under two a game and a save percentage near .940. If a hot goalie is what wins championships, Cornell might just be the clubhouse leader, as Scrivens just posted back to back shutouts to help Cornell win the ECAC tournament title, and as a Hobey Baker finalist, he might be just the second goalie to be so honored (you may have heard of the first one; a guy by the name of Ryan Miller. Did a little goaltending for Team USA up in Vancouver, remember?)

The Big Red have one other major advantage, they're playing in Albany for the second straight weekend against New Hampshire, a team that has a big home rink. Knowing the boards, the nuances and bounces, might just be enough to help Mike Schafer return to the glory days of Ned Harkness, when Cornell was "the" hockey school in the East and more than just a "nice story".

*--Yes, Wisconsin fans, if the Badgers had beaten Cornell, they would hold this distinction this year, but they didn't, did they?

No comments: