As the NHL playoffs begin on Wednesday, Cornellians may recognize a familiar face among the Ottawa Senators’ lineup. After graduating from the Cornell men’s hockey program less than two years ago, Colin Greening ’10 has transitioned from the world of collegiate hockey into the professional ranks. Playing in every game during his career with the Red, Greening compiled 55 goals and 63 assists for a combined 118 points, tying him for 33rd all-time at Cornell. While premiere hockey was a major contributing factor for Greening when he was first scouted by Cornell, it was not the school’s only selling point when he made the decision.
“[What] I wanted most in a school were great hockey [and a] great school — and neither of them was more important than the other,” Greening said. “Well, maybe hockey was the most important one, but hockey, academics and great fans. I knew that I was going to enjoy it, so that’s what brought me to Cornell.”
The former Red forward was a leader from the first day he laced up at Lynah rink. Greening recorded a team-leading 11 goals during his rookie season. He also had three two-point games, two three-point games and two game-winners by the end of his first year. This was the same year that Greening notched his only Cornell career hat-trick in a 6-0 win against Dartmouth on Feb. 28, 2008. Appearing in all 31 games for the Red, Greening showed his passion and commitment to the team — something which was apparent when he served as the first sophomore alternate captain under head coach Mike Schafer’s ’86 tenure.
Stepping into greater leadership positions over the next two seasons — serving as captain during both his junior and senior years — Greening took his game to the next level, moving towardsbecoming one of college hockey’s premiere power forwards. He scored four game winners and eight power play goals as a junior, which contributed to his career-high 15 goals and established him as a key player in the power play unit. It was during his junior year that Greening said he scored his favorite goal of his hockey career — one that came in double overtime in the ECAC Hockey semifinals against Princeton.
“It was one of those shots that was just labeled for the top corner,” he said. “It was a straight shot through, and I remember I was so exhausted at the end of the shift and mustered as must strength as I could and shot as hard as I could, and it ended up going top shelf on [Princeton goalie Zane Kalemba ’10]. I still think back to that game and look back to that goal with fond memories.”
Greening finished his ultimate season with the Red on an equally strong note.
“My most favorite experience [with the Red] was winning the 2010 ECAC championships,” Greening said. “I tell people this a lot because each year it seemed like we took little steps to get there. We just worked so hard to get to that point. I know my freshman year we lost in the quarterfinals, and my second year was in the semifinals. Third year was in the finals, and finally in my fourth year, we won the ECAC championship. So, it was a culmination of four years worth of work put into something. It was nice to finally get rewarded for it.”
Greening also was honored with the prestigious Lowe's Senior CLASS Award as the top senior scholar-athlete in college hockey.
“[Winning the award] was pretty special because it not only encompasses being an athlete and the classroom … it’s an award for being an all-around person and that I pride myself on,” Greening said. “That was a really big deal for me because I had a lot of family members and friends voting … When finally I got the call that I won the award, I was pretty happy.”
After playing for Cornell, Greening moved on to play for the Binghamton Senators — the AHL affiliate of the Ottawa Senators, who drafted the forward in 2005. Greening said that he originally did not think that he was going to be selected, but much to his delight and surprise he received a phone call during the 7th round saying that he was chosen.
“Binghamton was great for me. … It gave me a chance to play with some top players,” he said. “I felt like I was learning how to be a professional and how to play the game.”
During his time in Binghamton, Greening was part of the 2011 team that made a run for the Calder Cup. Entering the competition seeded last, expectations were not high for the Senators, according to Greening. Binghamton faced the Manchester Monarchs in the first round.
“That was definitely an interesting and fun experience,” Greening said. “We were the last seed and we just squeaked our way into playoffs and I remember I didn’t know what was going to happen. In the first round, we were down 3-1 in a best-of-seven series and we ended up winning the next three games in overtime. We won the last two games on the road in Manchester.”
Binghamton ended up claiming the entire series, beating the Portland Pirates, Charlotte Checkers and Houston Aeros. Playing for Charlotte at the time was Greening’s former Cornell teammate Riley Nash. Greening said that playing against former Red icers has been a fun experience.
“It’s a lot of fun. I’ve played against [Ben Scrivens ’10] a couple of times this season. He actually made a really good stop against me in preseason. We were joking about it afterwards and I was really hoping I could score on him so I could get bragging rights,” Greening said. “I got to play against [Riley] in his second professional game, which was nice and he got his first professional point against us, but I wasn’t on the ice, so he doesn’t get bragging rights that he scored on my line.”
This week Greening will play in his first NHL playoffs, as the Ottawa Senators face off against the New York Rangers beginning on Thursday.
“That is going to be a lot of fun because Cornell is well represented in the city. I’ve been getting a lot of texts from guys who are actually Rangers fans —threatening to keep me up all night,” Greening said. “It’s all in good fun ... It’s my first NHL playoffs, so I don’t really know what to expect, I’m basing my experience on what I went through with the playoffs last year with the AHL. I’m really excited.”