Union center Lichtenwald expected to play vs. Cornell (updates with 3 videos)
The top-seeded and second-ranked Union Dutchmen are ready for their ECAC Hockey tournament semifinal game against fourth-seeded and 13th-ranked Cornell this afternoon at 4 p.m. at 1980 Rink-Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid.
And it appears that freshman center Eli Lichtenwald will return to the lineup. Lichtenwald miss last weekend’s quarterfinal series against Dartmouth because of a middle-body injury.
The only Dutchmen participating in the morning skate were the players, excluding goalies Alex Sakellaropoulos and Dillon Pieri, who won’t dress for the game. Sophomore center David Roy, who played both games last weekend, was in the morning skate.
Lichtenwald has eight goals and 11 assists in 25 games.
“He’s not officially there yet,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “But there’s about a 99 percent chance.”
Bennett said there isn’t any danger in putting Lichtenwald out there.
“It’s the same risk as any other guy on the ice,” Bennett said. “From what I’m told, if he gets in, he’s 100 percent ready to go.”
On if his team is ready to go against the Big Red, Bennett said, “I’d like to think so. You never know until you drop the puck. They had a good few days of practice here. It’s just a different type of game than we’re used to in the past few weeks.”
I asked forward Daniel Carr and defenseman Mat Bodie the same question.
“We know that they’re going to bring their best,” Carr said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re matching their work ethic and intensity and do the things that make us successful, and just getting pucks deep and working down low.”
“The guys are just excited to get playing,” Bodie said. “It’s been a long week getting ready. We’re just ready to get going.”
The Dutchmen finished their final exams for the second trimester this week. It should give the players a free and clear mind for the game.
“That’s just a huge weight,” Bennett said. “We’ve never use that as an excuse, and we’re nt going to. That’s why they’re called student-athletes.”
Bodie said, “Everyone’s pretty relieved about that. Who knows about the grades, but they’re done with. It’s out of our control at this point.”
Carr had the easiest, simplist answer of all.
“Yes,” he said.
I have three pregame videos.
To see the Bennett interview, click here.
To see the interviews with Carr and Bodie, click here.
To see the some of the action from the pregame skate, click here.