Series Record: 81-51-8
Friday March 8 & Saturday March 9
November 10, 2012 & February 9, 2013
The two games where Princeton and Cornell have met this season have looked very different, in spite of their similar result. The Tigers took the wins, but Cornell was at two very different points in its season. The first game between the two resulted in Cornell's first loss of the season. Princeton dominated Cornell for most of the game, with Princeton up 2-0 going into the third period. Cornell turned on whatever switch wasn't properly working and scored three goals in less than five minutes. That was not enough, though, as Princeton managed to score three unanswered goals of their own in order to win the game, 5-3.
The second game was the last loss in Cornell's mid-season losing streak. Both teams appeared to be quite different. Mike Condon put up a stellar showing in net, stopping near-goals where it did not look possible, including what Coach Schafer later referred to as a "cluster bomb" in front of the net at the end of the period. The Tigers of Princeton were one of the best teams that the Big Red faced, regardless of their record. In spite of countless chances, the game ended 1-0 in Princeton's favor off of a fluky goal to give Princeton the series sweep.
The Tigers this season have at once under- and over-performed expectations. No one gave this team a shot, but they have played one of the better team games this season. They are crisp and have pulled league sweeps over Cornell, Colgate, and Harvard. They also have three of four points with RPI and Dartmouth, both of whom are sitting in the top of the league with number two and five seeds respectively. The Tigers apparently thought home ice so advantageous that in their last regular-season game, in overtime against Harvard, they pulled their goaltender. It resulted in a win and put them one point ahead of Cornell and Clarkson in the standings, grabbing the last home-ice spot in the first round. Junior Andrew Calof scored his 100th point in order to secure the win.
Keys to the Game:
Princeton is by no means an unbeatable team. Yet at the same point, they may be the most difficult team that Cornell will face in the playoffs, and not because the Tigers swept them this season. Princeton plays an incredibly disciplined game with an aggressive penalty kill.
In terms of statistics, Princeton does not take many penalties, at 12 minutes per game, coming in toward the bottom half of the country. Their power play is better, coming in at 21 in the country, with an 18.4% conversion rate. In terms of penalty kill, the Tigers are even more impressive, ranking at 13 in the country at 85.5% kill rate. The "Combined Special Teams" ranking puts Princeton at number four in the country, the highest that Cornell has faced. Denver is the closest remaining, at six. Interestingly enough, Princeton averages scoring the same number of goals that Cornell does, 2.41. Princeton averages allowing 2.79 goals per game, more than Cornell's 2.55.
But statistics do not say what will happen, only what has happened in the past. Cornell will need first and foremost, to solve Condon. Condon bested the Big Red through both luck and skill in the last match, not allowing a single goal against, but Condon has not remained unsolvable. The Big Red put three goals on him in November. After Condon left Cornell, he was apparently sick with the flu. He sat out when Princeton played host to the North Country and lost. Condon was back in against Brown and Yale, losing both games in spite of a 0.919 save percentage against Brown. Condon skated to a tie against Dartmouth with a 0.9375 save percentage, and played in an overtime win against Harvard last weekend. Condon might not have been the magic winning formula that Malcolm was for Yale, but he certainly has done well in net for the Tigers, as he was in net for eight of the Tigers's ten wins and four of their five ties.
The Big Red are a team to be reckoned with, and as offensively talented as any other in the league. They will need to remain disciplined, taking as few penalties as possible, and deal with any in-game adversity with poise as it comes. Whether it is a botched power play or an early whistle, the Big Red will need to play their best in spite of the calls this weekend.
Cornell and Princeton have met in six separate years in the ECAC playoffs: 1968, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2001, and 2009. They met a total of eight times and have a record of 5-2-1. Four of the games have gone to overtime, with the most recent playoff game going to two overtimes before Cornell ended the game. They have played in many different rounds of the ECAC, including but not limited to a first-round two-game series wherein one can tie, a single game first round series, a single game quarterfinal series, a play-in game, as well as a semifinal game. So this first-round series is not the first that the Tigers and Big Red have played against one another.
Except for two of the eight games, each match was within one. The 1968 quarterfinal series saw a 6-1 Cornell win and the 1998 play-in game at Lake Placid was a 6-2 Princeton win. Of the eight games, four were played at Lynah, two at Hobey Baker, one in Albany and one in Lake Placid.
The two teams have played one another since 1901, when they met in Philadelphia at the Philadelphia Ice Palace. The first time either team played on campus was their tenth meeting, at Princeton's outdoor rink in 1914. Hobey Baker Rink was first played in by the two teams in 1924. The Tigers did not venture to Ithaca until 1926, when they played on Beebe Lake. The Tigers played in Lynah first in 1957.
These meetings will be the 141st and 142nd meetings of Cornell and Princeton to decide which team continues in the real season.