Did You Know: The Clarkson Hockey program has amassed 10,001 goals since the 1920-21 season?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

ECAC Season Preview - Cornell

Cornell Big Red

Last Years Finish - 3rd

Key Returnees - Byron Bitz Sr. F, Topher Scott Jr. F, Ray Sawada Jr. F

Key Losses - Dave McKee G, Ryan O'Byrne D, Sasha Pokulok D, Matt Moulson F

Despite finishing 3rd in the league last year and falling to Harvard in the ECACHL championship game, Cornell was the class of the league last year falling just one goal short of a frozen four appearance. Head coach Mike Schafer had his squad ready for the NCAA playoffs and it took a triple overtime one timer from the eventual national champion to knock the Big Red from the post season. After that game Cornell looked like it would be team to beat again in the league.

Then the great departure occurred.

Leading scorer Matt Moulson graduated, along with the programs nucleus of Cam and Chris Abbot, Daniel Pegoraro and John Gleed. All world goaltender Dave McKee left the school and signed with the Mighty Ducks. Adding to this loss were defensemen Sasha Pokulok and Ryan O'Byrne early departures to the NHL. Within the course of 2 months Cornell went from one goal away from the frozen four to conference underdogs. However, with Mike Schafer at the helm and a strong recruiting class Cornell will not fall as far as any other team in a similar situation.

Goal will be the biggest question mark for the Big Red this season. After a decade of stellar goaltenders Cornell will face it's first real challenge at the position. Of the three goaltenders fighting for ice time none of them have any ice time at the NCAA level. And only Troy Davenport was a member of the Big Red in previous years. Davenport transferred out of Cornell two years ago to play in the USHL. Ironically he was coached by former Harvard coach, Mark Mazzoleni while spending a year with the Green Bay Gamblers. Davenport is a slight favorite but he will share time with sophomore Dan DiLeo and freshman Ben Scrivens until a starter emerges. Schafer and his staff have had great success in finding goaltending talent in the past, but might have to adjust to some growing pains with this trio.

On defense Cornell took a major hit with the loss of Pokulok and O'Byrne. While they had there deficiencies these two were going to be the backbone of the signature Cornell defense. The Big Red must now look to senior Dan Glover to step up and lead the defense mainly composed of freshmen. Again, the talent in the incoming class is there, but it will not come through instantly. Big Red fans might not be accustom to giving up three goals a game but that might become the status quo for 2006.

On offense Cornell returns three of their four leading scorers in Scott, Bitz and Ray Sawada. Cornell averaged 2.77 goals per game in league play last year and with out a natural goal scorer like Moulson will have to look for goals where ever and from who ever they can get them from. The Big Red's success last year came from the fact that anyone on the team could get that key goal. Teams that focused on Moulson had to deal with Scott and Bitz. Teams that focused on the big line often were beat by the role players. Cornell will need to continue this style of team first offense and hope Bitz or Scott can step up into the 30 point range of Moulson.

If this kind of exodus had happened to any other squad a 10 win season might be a stretch. Cornell is too well coached and the incoming class of freshman are too talented to let this happen. Cornell will lose some of the games they would have won in the past but if they are not in contention for a first round bye at the end of the season it will come as a surprise.

Best Case Scenario - 3rd
Worst Case Scenario - 7th

CHF's Pick - 5th


Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice, very nice job. Cornell won't like the editorial, but I think this is accurate.

9:55 PM


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