Aiming to replace a four-member senior class, Cornell men’s hockey will rely on a talented group of five skaters in its freshman class this upcoming season.
Corey Hoffman, Noah Bauld, Jeff Malott, Connor Murphy and Yanni Kaldis make up the incoming class of 2020, with Kaldis serving as the lone defender in the group. The five represent the smallest class on the team; the other three classes are all at least seven skaters strong.
“We try not to over-recruit with kids we have,” head coach Mike Schafer ’86 said. “The five guys coming in replaces what we have in our program with the [four] guys that graduated.”
Overall, Schafer and his staff stressed offensive talent in this incoming class. With four attackers and one defender who is labelled as generally more offensive for his position, that goal seems to have been met.
“All five of them lean toward the offensive side in players and that’s what we saw in them,” he said.
Four of the five incoming skaters are under six feet tall and only one hits the 200-pound plateau. However, head coach Mike Schafer ’86 welcomed the players’ smaller stature, citing the alternative physical prowesses that they will add to the team.
“We still want players that have a fighting spirit in them, that will play physical, will play strong, but you cannot play that kind of hockey where you physically intimidate teams,” Schafer said. “It has to be more now with your feet.”
“We saw that more last year with guys that we brought in with Mitch Vanderlaan, Anthony Angello and Luc Lalor and now with the guys we have this year it is very similar.”
In terms of hometowns, four of the five incoming Cornellians are native to Canada, with only one skater — Hoffman — hailing from within the United States. After the addition of the incoming class, the roster is split exactly in half between American and Canadian players, 14 from each country.
Hoffman spent the past year on two teams in the British Columbia Hockey League, amassing 39 points in 56 games between his two clubs, leading the Cowichan Valley Capitals in playoff scoring with 10 points in six games.
Bauld averaged just under one point per game with the Lloydminster Bobcats in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, helping lead the team to the RBC Cup, the championship game for Canadian Junior A teams.
Murphy spent the past two seasons on two different teams in the United States Hockey League, notching 57 regular season points in that span. Before that, he was the Ontario Hockey Association Junior B Player of the Year and was honored with the OHA top prospect award.
“Hoffman, Bauld and Murphy are all similar … players,” Schafer said. “One thing we definitely want to do is increase our speed up front offensively and we think we accomplish that with all three guys with their speed and skill.”
Malott joined Bauld in the AJHL on the Brooks Bandits, recording a total of 80 points in 99 games, including 60 points in 46 games this past season. Malott was named the Bandits’ most valuable player and was selected to be on the AJHL South Division All-League Team.
A stark contrast in size to his fellow classmates, Malott sets the bar in height and weight for the class of 2020.
The lone defender, Kaldis, spent his past two years with the Nanaimo Clippers as a major playmaker, as evidenced by his 110 assists in 112 games, placing him second in scoring in the league last season among defensemen.
Schafer lauded this part of his game and greets it as a welcome addition to the Cornell club.
“[Kaldis] comes in as a first-team all-star for his league, a power play type of defenseman, an offensive defenseman and that’s what we saw in him,” Schafer said. “That ability on special teams on the power play and also that transition to offense was a role that we saw in him.”
Kaldis also joins the Red at a time where only two defensemen on the roster are upperclassmen. With a young defensive core, Schafer hopes to see development up and down the roster as the year progresses.
“With your seniors and juniors you know what type of guys they are going to be and you hope they develop, but the biggest jump you hope to see are coming out of your freshmen and sophomores,” he said. “We hope the sophomores continue to progress and that Yanni steps in and is able to do things he did in junior hockey.”
While each incoming skater has his own personal collection of accolades, all-star selections and hardware won on previous teams, they now begin a shared future in Ithaca come hockey season.