Series Record: 31-14-7
Saturday February 23, 2013
Friday January 18, 2013
The last meeting between the Dutchmen and the Big Red ended 3-2 in the Big Red's favor. It was Cole Bardreau's first game back, and Shayne Gostisbehere and Cole were both honored before the game. Cornell scored first with John Esposito scoring just over a minute into the game. Union matched the goal and added a power-play goal to go ahead 2-1 at the end of the first. The second remained scoreless, with the Big Red going into the third period with a deficit of one goal. Cole Bardreau and Brian Ferlin each tallied one in the third to put the Big Red up at the end of the night 3-2 over the Dutchmen of Union.
Union had high hopes at the opening of this season that it would earn its third consecutive regular-season title and second Whitelaw Cup in as many years. The alarm bells went off perhaps when the Dutchmen lost 4-1 to Merrimack in their season opener. The Warriors have done their part since then to make that loss seem quality, specifically with a win over Boston College just last week, and Union gained some redemption when it defeated Merrimack later in the season 4-1.
This Union squad unlike recent years past does not have a quality out-of-conference win over a quality out-of-conference opponent. Over the last few seasons, Union has defeated Minnesota and Michigan. It has enjoyed no such success this season. The Dutchmen were unable to book a schedule of such difficulty and rigor, then proceeded to drop another embarrassing loss to Vermont in the Catamount Cup.
Union has gone 4-2-1 since Cornell traveled to Messa Rink. Some in the Capital District believe that this shows that the defending Whitelaw Cup champion is gearing up for a deep playoff run. Union is battling to maintain home ice and inch toward a first-round bye into the playoffs.
Union has swept two weekends since the Big Red defeated the Dutchmen including sweeps of Harvard and Dartmouth, and Brown and Yale. Yale is reeling from the loss of goaltender Malcolm against Princeton, but the wins over Dartmouth and Yale cannot be discounted. Union has found a way to win and even though it may not be anywhere near as dominant as it was last season, the Dutchmen will be ready to play Cornell and have the ability to beat Cornell on senior night.
Union has continued its success on penalty killing later into this season. The Dutchmen have the eighth-best penalty killing unit in college hockey. They kill penalties at a rate of 86.3%. Union's power-play unit has slid somewhat in national rankings from when Cornell beat them in Schenectady as the Dutchmen have fallen from first in the nation to third. Union finds the back of the net on the power play 25.0% of the time.
Keys to the Game:
Cornell allowed Union to convert on half of its power-play opportunities when it entered Messa Rink. Cornell committed only two penalties, but Union took the lead in the first period behind a power-play goal from Kyle Bodie. Cornell's penalty killing has been much improved from the effort that was seen against Union during which the defense inadvertently screened Iles on the power-play goal and was never eager to clear the zone when given the chance. Cornell will need to continue its penalty killing poise against the Dutchmen if the Big Red wants to end the regular season at home with a win.
Union has scored more than two goals only three times since Cornell and Union last met. Cornell has accomplished that feat just two times over the same span of time. It is likely that Saturday's Union-Cornell meeting will be a low-scoring affair in which the goaltending may make the difference. All recent reports out of Schenectady indicate that Grosenick has elevated his game in recent weeks.
Grosenick was pulled in Union's game at Cheel, and Stevens and he both saw ice time during the game against St. Lawrence. Grosenick has not delivered a game with an in-game save percentage of less than 0.923 since the Ferlin and Lowry rush beat him at Messa outside Union's road trip to the North Country. Grosenick's save percentage has remained between 0.923 and 1.00 with a non-shutout peak of 0.962 since Cornell's win over the Union.
Iles's numbers have not been as impressive, but in the last two weekends, his performances have been. Iles will need to deliver another stellar game against the Dutchmen to bolster Cornell's chances of a senior-night win. Iles registered a 0.941 save percentage against Union in last meeting and will need to do similarly to hold off Union.
Cornell's opportunism will need to be at a high against Union. Cornell was able to seal victory at Messa with an odd-man rush that developed from a blown Union defensive assignment. Grosenick was no match for the combined offensive skills of Ferlin and Lowry. Similar plays and opportunism will need to be a key part of any strategy to beat a Union squad that makes only a handful of egregious mistakes.
Union may not be as disciplined as last season, but its systems have not imploded. Cornell has adopted the mantra of making its own luck at this point in the season and to do so it will be crucial for our talented forwards and offensive defensemen to capitalize on the errors that Cornell's guests from Schenectady make.
Union began the season with high expectations. The Dutchmen established one of their key goals as winning the ECAC as Whitelaw Cup champions in March. WAFT mentioned in its historical perspective of the connections between Cornell, RPI, and Union that Harkness won ECAC Championships for Cornell but not RPI. Union was ineligible because it was not yet a member of the ECAC. Another similarity exists between Cornell, RPI, and Union's aspirations. Cornell was the first program in the history of the ECAC to follow winning its first ECAC Championship with a successful defense of that championship. Cornell did this in 1967 and 1968. It was not until 1971 that a team other than Cornell won the ECAC. The only other program to defend successfully its first ECAC Championship is RPI. The Engineers won their first ECAC Championship in 1984 and defended it in 1985. Union won its first Whitelaw Cup last season. Were the Dutchmen able to win the 2013 Whitelaw Cup, they would join their fellow Harkness-influenced programs as the only programs to accomplish the feat of defending their first ECAC Championship.
The Capital District foes have become "rivals" as of late if you somehow missed that astroturfed fact. Union has beaten RPI eight times consecutively. So, to sweeten the pot of RPI and Union meeting at least three times a year, the programs have decided to host an event in Albany each season in which the two programs exchange the Mayor's Cup, for the mayors of Albany, Schenectady, and Troy. Yes, the plural possessive form was rejected as the name of the trophy. Union won the trophy this season, but alas the trophy must be presented to the mayor of the host city of the winning program rather than in a program's trophy case. The presentation of the trophy is shown in the video below as it occurred earlier this week.