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As Senior Night Passes, Cornell Men’s Hockey Looks Ahead to Playoffs

Cornell Men’s Ice Hockey seniors as they prepare for their final run together. Photo courtesy: Cornell Athletics

Key points

  • Cornell Men’s Ice Hockey defeated Yale 3-2 on senior night
  • The five seniors honored are focusing on their team’s playoff run, not their future after Cornell

It was just like any other Saturday night at Lynah Rink. Same start time, same rowdy crowd, even the opponent, Yale, was nothing out of the ordinary. But for five seniors on the Cornell Men’s Ice Hockey team, this would be one of the last times they salute the Lynah Faithful.

Senior Night is held during the last regular season home game every year to pay homage to the four-year veterans who dedicated their college career to the Big Red. Jared Fiegl, Alex Rauter, Hayden Stewart, Dwyer Tschantz and Trevor Yates spent three years watching their teammates get honored in the rink they call home. But on February 17th, 2018, it was their night. Even though Cornell will return to Lynah for their first-round playoff series, Rauter says Senior Night is one to remember.

“I can’t believe it’s already here, it’s really something special……all the hard work, and everything we’ve done, it’s really nice to just be together as a team and celebrate like that,” Rauter said.
 
Rauter in a game against Harvard. Photo courtesy: Cornell Athletics

The Game

The nerves were apparent from the opening puck drop. Yale struck twice in the second and entered the 3rd period with a 2-1 lead. Fiegl had his signature moment when he tied the score eight minutes into the third, hinting that another senior might have their moment to win it on their swan song. Ironically enough, it was a freshman, Tristan Mullin, who lit the lamp with just over a minute to propel the Big Red to victory. Not only did it send the seniors out in style, but it gave Cornell a 9-0-1 record in the Ivy League, marking the first time they’ve gone undefeated in league play since the 1995-1996 season.

The Push to the Playoffs

With the win over Yale, the Big Red clinched a home playoff series starting March 9 with an opponent to be determined. Currently sitting at No. 2 in the country (according to USCHO.com), Cornell is pegged by many as a National Championship contender. Rauter says his focus is on the end of this season, not what his future holds.
“The real senior night is after the first round of playoffs,” Rauter said.
While Cornell has been a perennial contender, they have not won a National Championship since 1970. Tschantz says being crowned a national champion would be the ultimate way to go out.
“It’s everything. It’s all we’ve wanted to do since we’ve been here is win a National Championship,” Tschantz said. “We’ve had some good teams but this year we’re rolling. To end with a national championship would be icing on the cake to an incredible four years here.”
Tschantz celebrating after a goal against Yale. Photo courtesy: Cornell Athletics

What’s Next?

For head coach Mike Schafer, this is nothing new. He played for Cornell in the mid 80s before becoming the head coach in 1995, so he’s seen this situation from both sides. He says honoring and replacing players is all part of the job.
“It’s the circle of life you know?” Schafer said. “You’re in the middle of it [their time at Cornell] and all of a sudden graduation is just around the corner,” Schafer said.
Nothing is guaranteed for the Big Red after their first-round match up at home on March 9th, so for the five graduating, the future is upon them. If you ask them what their plans are, they’ll tell you they’re not thinking about it. Both Tschantz and Fiegl were drafted in 2014 to the St. Louis Blues and Arizona Coyotes respectively. For others, like recent graduates Jake Weidner (GER) and Holden Anderson (DEN) they can choose to play for their country.
For Tschantz, he said his ideal future involves the NHL. 
“It’s my dream to play professional hockey and I would love the opportunity. But I’m not trying to think about that right now,” Tschantz said.
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