Did You Know: The Clarkson Hockey program has amassed 10,001 goals since the 1920-21 season?

Friday, March 17, 2006

ECAC(HL) Men's Semi-Final Preview - Part 2

Our second preview takes a look at the third match up between travel partners Colgate and Cornell. Cornell swept the regular season home and home series in two games that seemed to loom larger at the time than they did in the end result of the regular season.

Why Colgate will win:
The Raiders have a difficult task of stopping a Big Red team coming off two very emotional, double overtime victories over a highly talented Clarkson team. However the Raiders come into the game loaded with offensive talent and backstopped by the ECAC Goaltender of the Year, Mark Dekanich. Dekanich will have to show the league that he is deserving of the award if Cornell matches their shot total from the previous weekend.

Up front Colgate is led by sophomore Tyler Burton and senior Kyle Wilson, who on the year have amassed 80 points on 45 goals and 35 assists. Add to this three more 30 point scorers and Colgate brings one of the most dangerous offenses to Albany. However, in their last eight games, Colgate's two losses came by shutout. The key for Colgate to move on is to keep the first two lines contributing throughout the game and to get to McKee early. Cornell is 0-5-1 when trailing after 1 and is 1-6-1 when trailing after two. Flip that stat and Cornell is 20-2-1 when they are tied or leading after 1 and 19-1-3 when tied or leading after two. Colgate needs to get an early lead and let Dekanich go to work.

Sophomore Mark Dekanich has a 18-9-6 record with an outstanding .923 save percentage and a 2.35 GAA. Put him behind a solid defense of Mike Campaner and Nick St. Pierre and it's very apparent why Colgate shared the league title. However if Colgate allows Cornell to tee off on Dekanich things might get ugly fast. Expect the more seasoned D corps of Colgate to find ways to trim down Cornell's offensive chances which were plentiful last weekend.

Colgate's one fatal flaw, however is penalty killing. Colgate ranked 9th in the ECAC with a 82.8 percent kill rate. Colgate will need to step up on special teams to keep the Cornell power play from taking control of the game. On the power play Colgate was the leagues best at 19.1 percent. Colgate will need to figure out the Big Red penalty kill which was perfect last weekend against Clarkson.

Why Cornell will win:
The Big Red come into this game riding a giant wave of emotion and momentum after sweeping their budding rival Clarkson. Overtime wins in hockey can lead to great things, as it can lift a team up from devastating loss, or what some may have been calling a "disappointing season." The Big Red came into last week failing to meet expectations of an Ivy League and regular season championship. With two wins last weekend, in which the offense posted over one hundred shots, the Big Red will be looking to carry that momentum to the finals and beyond.

The biggest question mark for Cornell is their goaltender David McKee who looked very average in the two wins against Clarkson. Granted he won the games and made the stops when he had to but he allowed a couple soft goals on the weekend including a shot from center ice in which it seemed he was not paying attention to the game. McKee will need to be focused on Colgate or the big two could have a field day. In front of McKee, Cornell defense will look to shut down Burton and Wilson but need to be careful as to not let players like John and Ryan Smyth and Jesse Winchester beat them. I expect a big game from Ryan O'Byrne on the blue line and expect Cornell, for the most part, stop Burton and Wilson.

On offense Cornell will keep looking for heroics from captain Matt Moulson. Even with their 8th ranked powerplay Cornell managed to use the power play to their advantage last weekend. The Big Red will keep this rolling by scoring at least one powerplay goal on Colgate's soft penalty kill. Head coach Mike Schaefer will probably use the line of Moulson, Bryan Bitz, and Topher Scott for power plays. This was clearly the best line last weekend and will be expected to produce against the Raiders.

Colgate needs to win to make the NCAA's. With a win Cornell is an NCAA lock. Colgate will play with desperation tonight but McKee will have one of his finest games of his career and will move his team into their 5th championship game of the decade.

Cornell 2 - Colgate 0


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