If one word from Webster’s dictionary had to be selected to adequately describe Cornell’s crew of forwards, it would, without a doubt, be smorgasbord.
As in, when head coach Mike Schafer ’86 sets about filling his offensive pre-game lineup, he will have a virtual buffet of forwards to choose from.
Though last year’s top-three scorers — Doug Stienstra ’00, Ryan Moynihan ’00, and Mike Rutter ’00 — have finished their glorious runs on the East Hill, they have been replaced by a troupe of adept and experienced surrogates. And though none has yet exhibited superstar-like quality, all have already displayed a knack for work ethic and blue-collar grit.
“I think the depth of our forwards is one of our trademarks and everybody in the [ECAC] is aware of it,” said senior left-winger Dan Svoboda.
In the pre-season at least, Cornell’s depth was never a concern for the college hockey pundits. Nearly every notable media publication made it starkly clear that the Cornell bench was stacked. But coming into the year, the darkest cloud hanging over the Red was its offense, and whether or not it could find a proven scorer from its laundry list of 16 forwards.
“The question mark I think a lot of people have on us is the ability to score, and I really don’t think we have that question mark,” Schafer declared.
“I don’t think we have one or two guys that we need to depend on and say, ‘Hey we need two of these guys to have a good offensive year or we’re going to be in trouble,'” he continued. “We have a host of those guys.”
As Schafer points out, Cornell’s offense will essentially run on a ‘by-committee’ manner.
And as the elder statesmen on the offensive unit, Svoboda and classmate and tri-captain Andrew McNiven will likely be leaders of the crew.
Both should provide a physical presence up front this season as well as showcase improved scoring ability.
The real strength and depth of the offense, though, could be the junior and sophomore classes. Juniors Denis Ladouceur, Krzysztof Weickowski, David Francis, and David Kozier produced 44 points last year, and are expected to up the ante this season. Kozier, especially, is looking to have a breakout performance. After scoring a phenomenal 11 goals as a freshman — including a hat-trick in a 7-2 drubbing of Harvard — he missed nearly the entire year in 1999-2000 due to injuries, playing in only thirteen games.
Ladouceur — who was the Ivy League Rookie of the Year two seasons ago — should be one of the Red’s most potent scorers. In his freshman year, he ranked second on the team with 14 goals and 14 assists. And last year he added another 10 scores, including tallies in key late-season games against Yale, Princeton and Harvard.
As for the sophomores, both Matt McRae (24 points) and Stephen B