Duke and Cornell have the ability to give us an old school game with each team scoring more than 15 goals.
Cornell has scored 16 goals in each of its last two games.
Duke has scored 12 goals in each of its last two games.
Everything is clicking for Cornell right now. From the offensive tandem of Rob Pannell and Steve Mock, to the Defensive unit…especially the defensive unit if you ask coach Ben DeLuca.
Cornell is coming into this game 14-3 on the year with wins over Yale, Prince, Maryland, and OSU. Their losses included Bucknell, Syracuse, and Princeton.
Yet they feel they are the underdogs.
Or another way to look at it is…this is destiny.
Rob Pannell is in his fifth year due to injury, and yet has broken Cornell records, and is poisedo break Matt Danowski’s NCAA scoring record as well. He is almost gauranteed the Tewaaraton award barring herculian efforts from any of the other finalists still in it. Rob came back this year for a ring. He is destined to break records, and win awards. The team is rallying around Rob’s work ethic, and really seems destined to go far. But first tings first…they have to beat Duke.
On Offense, Cornell is led by Rob Pannell with 42Goals and 53Assists, Steve Mock with 59G, 9A, and Connor Buczeck with 32G, 17A.
They are just blowing up opponents right now as in the past two games, Pannell has 6G and 9A, and Steve Mock has 11G. It isn’t like Pannell and Mock came out of nowhere. These two have been the key to Cornell offense this season, and everyone is planning against them but no one can stop them.
In goal is AJ Fiore. Fiore has posted an 8.49 Goals Against Average with a save percentage of 52.9%. However he is inconsistent. In the past two games he has improved to a 7.0GAA and save percentage of 61%. However when he is bad, he is horrible like in the Syracuse and Princeton losses (13.5 GAA and save percentage of 32.5%).
Duke is coming off two one goal wins, and somehow…just does it.
Duke is 14-5 on the year with wins over Loyola (twice), UNC, and Notre Dame. They have losses to Denver, Notre Dame, Penn, Maryland, and UNC.
Duke is also entering their seventh Final Four ina row. Unfortuantely they are 2-4 so far with only one Championship o show for it. Coach John Danowski is nonchalant in his concern. Is it a motivational factor, “Nah. Last year was so long ago”. Might as well call him Coach Guy on the Couch. (Anyone get that reference?).
On the year, Duke is led by Jordan Wolfe with 49G, 25A; Josh Dionne with 40G, 5A; and David Lawson 32G, 15A. Case Matheis is playing particularly well of late watch out for him as well.
Duke’s main concern is in goal. After Wigrizer announced he was done playing due to concussions, Kyle Turri became the man posting a 9.28 GAA, and save percentage of 48.7%. Not Championship winning numbers. Especially considering he officially recorded 2 saves versus Notre Dame and 11 goals against (I would have given him 4 saves). Yet in coach Danowski’s eyes, Kyle is a winner”.
Key to the game will be face offs. One o the biggest bright spots for Duke is their FO unit. Brendan Fowler is one of the best with a win percentage of 65.7% this year. He has the ability to dominate ANYONE he faces. Cornell’s only counter punch is to play it as a whole three on three. While Cornell has won 55.9% of their face offs, they are already prepping to face Fowler.
The other key to victory in a potential tight game is special teams. As Cornell coach Ben DeLuca pointed out, it is important to have an effective Man Up offense specifically as you go further in the tournament. So far in the past two games, Cornell has converted 3 of 4 opportunities on Man Up (75%), while opponents have converted an amazing 0 of 8 (0%) against Cornell. Duke has converted 2 of 10 opportunities (20%), and their opponents have converted 7 of 11 (64%).
While possession is important, I think the tipping point in this game will be special teams. How good is your Man Up unit versus your Man Down unit.
Cornell is getting better including Fiore, and Duke just keeps on keeping on.
I am going with Cornell on this one.