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Cornell looks to get back on track against surging RPI

by Michael Blinn /
Cornell (11-6-4) at Rennselaer (7-18-1)
Friday, 7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network


Cornell: Since taking over behind the bench in 1995-96, Mike Schafer has turned the Big Red into a model of consistency. They've never won less than 12 times in a season, and with 11 wins already, they aim to keep that trend going against RPI. They've taken impressive wins at Yale, Harvard and Colorado College, and at home over Princeton. Season series sweeps of Dartmouth and Quinnipiac have also helped them climb toward the top of the ECAC standings. A non-conference Thanksgiving loss to Boston University at Madison Square Garden certainly stung, as did last weekend's sweep at the hands of upstart foe Colgate, though it was the first time all season they've dropped back-to-back games. It's safe to say they're still smarting and will look to avoid a third-straight loss. Expect Schafer's crew to send an early message on Friday that they're willing to battle it out.

NCAA Hockey on NBC Sports Network

  • Cornell @ RPI, Feb. 3, 7:00 PM
  • Boston College @ Vermont, Feb. 10, 7:00 PM
  • Minnesota @ Denver, Feb. 10, 7:30 PM
  • Dartmouth @ Yale, Feb. 17, 7:00 PM
  • Boston U @ Vermont, Feb. 24, 7:00 PM
  • North Dakota @ Denver, Feb. 24, 7:30 PM
  • Denver @ Neb-Omaha, Mar. 2, 7:30 PM
Rennselaer: After a rough first half, Engineers coach Seth Appert put the pressure on the coaching staff to restore some balance to a team that started out 3-16-0, and it appears he's been applying it to all the right places. Since dropping its last national TV appearance to Dartmouth, RPI has gone 4-2-1, including a three-game winning streak which saw it put together back-to-back wins for the first time all season. More telling is that two of those wins came on the road against Brown and Yale, though a 4-1 win over ECAC foe Clarkson was equally impressive. One has to believe Appert and his squad know a win over Cornell on Friday will alert the league they've been re-awoken and are ready to make a push at a postseason spot.


Most college teams come into a season with a go-to scorer; having multiple is a luxury. The Big Red can consider themselves in a luxurious position. Junior Greg Miller (7 goals, 18 points) returned as the focal point of the Cornell offense and he's yet to disappoint, eclipsing his personal best in goals and en route to doing the same with his point total. Junior defenseman Nick D'Agostino (8 goals, 18 points) is in the middle of a breakout season; his 8 goals lead the team, and his 5 game-winners and 6 power-play goals put him among the national leaders. Freshman Brian Ferlin (7 goals, 18 points) has been a welcome addition as well, adding a physical presence to go with his offensive contributions. Sean Collins (7 goals, 15 points) has matched his career high totals across the board from his junior season, and should easily surpass them. Andy Iles (11-6-4, 2.11 goals-against average) has staked his claim in the crease, playing every minute of every game for the Big Red. All of the sophomore's numbers rank among the nation's top goalies, and he can join the elite with a strong run down the stretch.

The Engineers have heated up on the ice, and it's easy to see where it's come from. Junior defenseman Nick Bailen (5 goals, 16 points) continues to lead the offense, while Brock Higgs' (1 goal, 15 points) sophomore campaign has showcased his playmaking skills for RPI. The biggest change in their recent success has come from Marty O'Grady (5 goals, 10 points); after scoring just a single goal in his first 13 games, the junior forward has added 4 goals and 9 points in his last nine. Fellow third-year forward C.J. Lee (4 goals, 10 points) has come on as well, with all of his contributions coming in the last 11 games. Bryce Merriam (6-13-0, 2.31 GAA) has reasserted himself in the crease, allowing just over a goal a game and recording two shutouts while going 4-1-0 in his last five. Freshmen Ryan Haggerty (5 goals, 9 points) and Jacob Laliberte (2 goals, 9 points) have found themselves in cold streaks, but both have the talent to snap out of it.

Leaders: Cornell Big Red Leaders: RPI Engineers
Nick D'Agostino - 21GP-8G-10A-18Pts Nick Bailen - 26GP-5G-11A-16Pts
Greg Miller - 21GP-7G-11A-18Pts Brock Higgs - 21GP-1G-14A-15Pts
Brian Ferlin - 21GP-7G-11A-18Pts Marty O'Grady - 21GP-5G-5A-10Pts
Sean Collins - 21GP-7G-8A-15Pts CJ Lee - 26GP-4G-6A-10Pts
Joel Lowry - 21GP-5G-7A-12POts Ryan Haggerty - 23GP-5G-4A-9Pts
Andy Iles - 11-6-4, 2.11 GAA, .918 SV% Bryce Merriam 6-13-0, 2.31 GAA, .916 SV%

Cornell Big Red RPI Engineers
Coach: Mike Schafer (324-179-60) Coach: Seth Appert (76-116-24)
Record: 11-6-4 (8-3-3 ECAC) Record: 7-18-1 (4-9-1 ECAC)
PP: 9.3% (56th) / PK: 78.6% (43rd) PP: 11.6% (53rd) / PK: 85.4% (12th)
Drafted: Braden Birch (CHI), Nick D'Agostino (PIT), Kirill Gotovets (TBL), Sean Collins (CBJ), Brian Ferlin (BOS), Joel Lowry (LAK) Drafted: Mike Bergin (DAL), Pat Koudys (WSH)
2012 Draft Watch List: Joakim Ryan (B Skater), Cole Bardreau (C Skater) 2012 Draft Watch List: Ryan Haggerty (C Skater)


"He's very impressive in his work ethic and attention to detail, and those things are going to win out in the end. I think his talent, mind for the game and work ethic are real special, and we're expecting great things from him in the next couple of years." -- RPI coach Seth Appert on Capitals' draft pick and sophomore defenseman Pat Koudys

"Ferlin is a power forward. He does the things that we covet. He's strong along the wall. He's strong protecting the puck. He takes pucks to the net. … He's a guy we see as a power forward playing in the NHL someday." -- Bruins assistant general manager Jim Benning on Cornell freshman and prospect Brian Ferlin


NHL connections: RPI's Zach Schroeder is the brother of Canucks' prospect Jordan Schroeder, teammate Matt Tinordi is the son of former NHLer Mark Tinordi and brother of Canadiens prospect Jarred, while former NHL defenseman Jaroslav Modry is a volunteer assistant coach with the Engineers. Cornell senior Sean Whitney is the younger brother of Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney, while John Esposito is the younger sibling of prospect Angelo. … Trophy Case: Iles took home ECAC Goalie of the Month for November and weekly honors twice, an award his RPI counterpart Merriam has also garnered this season. Marty O'Grady's recent stretch has earned him Player of the Week, an award Cornell's Nick D'Agostino has received as well. Brian Ferlin was the Rookie of the Month for November after getting the weekly award twice in the month -- once more than Big Red teammate Joakim Ryan. … Tale of the Tape: This game will feature nine players 6-foot-4 or taller: RPI's Luke Curadi, Guy Leboeuf and Pat Koudys, and Cornell's Rodger Craig, Scott Mayfield, Erik Axell, Braden Birch, Sean Whitney and Armand de Swardt are all among the NCAA's biggest.
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