Series Record: 74-56-12 Cornell
Friday November 2 & Saturday November 3
January 27, 2012, January 28, 2012, & March 17, 2012
Cornell's relative indifference toward series against Colgate was shaken last year when an offensively potent Raiders squad led by Austin Smith and Chris Wagner came to Lynah Rink on January 27, 2012 and defeated Cornell 2-1. Cornell looked to rebound the next evening at Starr Rink with taking a 3-1 lead, but 'gate would not be denied against their perceived rival and scored four unanswered goals to sweep the regular-season series. If it was not for the fact that the Central New York programs dropped both of their first games in the 2012 ECAC Championships, Colgate would have tallied just its seventh seasonal sweep of the Big Red since 1947. However, 'gate and Cornell met in the ECAC Championships consolation game. Cornell finally solved the 2011-12 Colgate squad with a convincing 3-0 win that sent the Big Red to the 2012 NCAA Midwest Regional for a meeting with Michigan. Of the 18 points that Colgate players were awarded during the 2011-12 regular-season series against Cornell, eight were allotted to either Austin Smith or Chris Wagner. Smith, the Hobey Baker Hat Trick Finalist, who proved that he deserved his nomination in terms of both skill and character graduated last season. Wagner forewent the last two seasons of his collegiate career to pursue a professional career.
Any observer who thought that 'gate would suffer a noticeable backslide in offensive production would be shocked to see that even absent the contributors of almost half of Colgate's points scored against Cornell last season Colgate has generated impressive offensive numbers with a very unseasoned team. Colgate's four wins came against Niagara, Bowling Green, RIT, and Quinnipiac. The Niagara win shocked many because without Smith and Wagner, most must have assumed that the Raiders's offense would utterly implode. I was not of that mindset. So, a 10-2 pasting of Niagara was not newsworthy in my mind. What is particularly relevant is the manner in which 'gate last weekend defeated convincingly an RIT team that beat Michigan at Yost earlier in the season. Sure, RIT has been a softer target than many expected this season. The Raiders followed their 6-3 besting of the Tigers with a commanding 5-1 win over a very good Quinnipiac team. Quinnipiac was ranked 20th in the nation at the time and has a season-opening win against Maine at the Alfrond on its resume already. The manner in which 'gate bested the Bobcats combined with the high expectations for the 2012-13 Quinnipiac team (projected to finish fourth in the ECAC) highlights how Coach Vaughan has his Raiders ready to compete at a level unexpected of this season. Especially this early.
Overall, Colgate has averaged 3.86 goals per game. The Raiders's power-play unit has not been very effective as it has converted on its opportunity but 11% of the time. Cornell's Central New York foe has killed off penalties at a solidly middling to low rate of just above 80%. Colgate with its up-tempo approach to the game is always dangerous in transition. It has proven this with its tendency to score short-handed goals, a feat that it has accomplished against two opponents. Oddly, Colgate has scored half as many short-handed goals as it has power-play goals.
A more nuanced look at Colgate's personnel will show its starting goaltender, Mihalik, is producing subpar numbers with a save percentage of 0.894 and a goals against average of 2.82. Mihalik has played all but one game for the Raiders. Freshman Finney took the start in 'gate's first game against and loss to Bowling Green.
This Colgate team has made good on Vaughan's ECAC-media day mantra that 'gate would rely upon scoring by committee. It is easier to count the Raiders who have not tallied a point this season than those who have. The list of players who have earned at least one point includes 18 of 'gate's players. The exceptions? Both goaltenders, and Leidl and Long. One of whom has played only one game. Despite a varied attack, the Raiders possess very young but very good talent in the Spink brothers, Tylor and Tyson (I'm advocating for a portmanteau of "Ty(l)(s)o(r)(n)"). Tylor with three goals and eight points over seven games was recognized yesterday as ECAC Rookie of the Month for October. Tyson, not to be outdone, has scored two goals and tallied five points in the same time. Colgate's offensive threats appear to be both broad and deep at this early stage in the season and cannot be overlooked. Cornell will arrive at Starr with Colgate already on a hot streak of having won its last three contests.
Use the following video for some mid-post entertainment.
Colgate is much like Colorado College in its approach to an idealized game. Both the Raiders and the Tigers are strong in transition and prefer up-tempo games. However, they differ in two key regards. One of which will make the Raiders a tougher test than Colorado College, the other will make them less difficult. The physicality that frustrated Colorado College midway through the first game of last weekend's series and throughout the entire series will not daunt the Raiders in much the same way. Colgate as a team has a grittier identity than do the Tigers. Going hard along the boards and playing the body might not be its preferred style of play, but being the travel partner and most common opponent of the Big Red tends to force familiarity with that style of play. The difference between Colorado College and Colgate that plays to Cornell's advantage is Colgate's lack of success on special teams relative to the success that Colorado College had enjoyed heading into last weekend. Colgate has scored only four power-play goals in seven games which amounts to a conversion of 11% of its power-play opportunities.
Colgate's greatest strength despite its noteworthy two short-handed goals is on the 5-on-5. Colgate boasts an even attack with 18 players having earned a point over seven games. Cornell is not far behind with 10 players tallying a point or more in the season-opening weekend against Colorado College. Half of the players who have tallied a point have totaled two already in the season. Colgate may be taken aback by the offensive depth of this current team. It is a depth that has been seen no more than once or twice in the Schafer Era. However, the one detraction from the Colorado College series was the fact that Cornell was minus two against the Tigers in all 5-on-5 situations and that the Big Red scored no even-strength goals. This dimension of this weekend's series will pit Colgate's strength so far this season against a somewhat perceived weakness of Cornell.
Colgate has averaged almost four goals per game. They have been scored overwhelmingly on 5-on-5 opportunities. Much like last weekend, what Cornell proves to itself in this game will be as or more important than anything that it shows Colgate or other onlookers. Cornell needs to prove to itself that it can score in 5-on-5 situations. It may not become a real problem until the distant future but if any or many more games pass without Cornell capitalizing on 5-on-5 situations this perceived problem could fester into an actual psychological issue for a very talented team that in post-game interviews on Saturday was very well aware of the fact that it had not scored an even-strength goal.
An accomplished weekend outside of wins and losses would involve playing Cornell hockey with a vengeance like this team did last weekend while tallying an even-strength goal. Or a few.
Things we've learned about Colgate: 1) "Colgate, you bet, is the best school around;" 2) "[Colgate is] where the kids are smarter;" 3) "try to give [them] money, don't even bother;" 4) "[they] hang with  girls that are richer than your father"...all courtesy of S.U.S (Swagged Up Squad from Colgate University in the above video, if you haven't, it's worth a listen). Well, that's at least how 'gate students perceive themselves.
Now, the historical dimension that is objective is that Cornell has played Colgate more than any other opponent. The two teams have met 143 times. The Lynah Faithful and Cornell do not view 'gate as a rival. However, Colgate insists on claiming that there is a heated rivalry between the two schools. For more on this dynamic, please see our history post from yesterday.
Cornell's general approach is indifference and apathy which might in fact be the most Cornellian way to view Colgate in the line of Andrew Dickson White's approach. Sure, we remind them that the namesakes of their school are the heirs of a man whose company's most profitable product is toothpaste. But, rivalry? Really? However, as it is said, actions speak louder than words, so, I'll close this post with letting Cornell goaltending legend and alumnus Ben Scrivens demonstrate what Cornell thinks of Colgate.