This weekend will be the last time seniors Andrew McNiven, Larry Pierce, Danny Powell, Dan Svoboda and Ian Burt will don the classic white jersey with the carnelian “Cornell” stitched across the front for a regular season hockey game.
“It is a weird feeling,” Powell said of knowing the end of his Cornell (12-10-5, 10-7-3 ECAC) career was quickly approaching.
The class of ’01 has been an impressive group, keying the Red’s run at the end of last year and leading it to third place in the ECAC standings so far this year.
“They are very realistic, they are very mature, and have been extremely dependable,” head coach Mike Schafer ’86 said.
Dependable indeed. Powell has not missed a game in his Cornell career, but he believes his first start was one of the most memorable moments in his career.
“The first game was something I will always remember — I was in the starting lineup. I’d never gotten a taste of the crowd [because] I never came on my recruiting trip and saw a game,” he said. “And at the Red/White game there aren’t that many fans. So when you skate out there on the starting lineup and it is your first game, it is pretty exciting.”
The tri-captain defenseman is one of the best defensive-defensemen in the league according to fellow tri-captain McNiven.
“We are definitely a real hard-working crew — Danny Powell is probably the [toughest] defenseman I play against in a game or in practice,” McNiven said.
Pierce is yet another example of a dependable player. Though he has had to fight through injuries for much of his career on East Hill, he has always bounced back to give the Red a scoring threat from the blueline. He has 39 points in the 109 games he has played in, including 11 goals.
And the possibility of having a home playoff series looms large for the seniors. As the top five teams in the league host series, the Red will need a victory this weekend to secure home ice.
“It’s a little sad [playing this weekend], but I plan on playing here for the playoffs,” Pierce said.
“It is a great rink and I love playing here. It’s not going to be our last home weekend, we are going to have one more during the playoffs,” Burt said.
“Senior night is a big night, but they know that the true way to go out on your senior night is to have the fans come over the glass in two weeks,” Schafer said.
Key for the Red achieving that goal will be for the team to find some ways to light the lamp. Forwards Svoboda and McNiven will be key in helping the Red achieve this goal. Tri-captain McNiven has 30 points in 88 games, while Svoboda has 31 points in 88 games.
“We don’t have any really flashy guys in our class, but we have guys who are great players in the pressure games,” McNiven said. “I think you are going to see that come through here in the last couple of games this year.”
The last member of the class is goalie Ian Burt, who was the top netminder for the squad a year ago, but has recently been behind junior Matt Underhill on the depth chart.
“Ian Burt was a guy who capitalized and took the number-one job. So you look at how he is handling [playing behind Underhill] and he is handling it like a very mature, professional person. It speaks volumes for him as a person,” Schafer said.
Burt has a 2.29 goals against average this year in eight games, and a .903 save percentage. But the senior just wants to spend more time in Lynah.
“I wish I had another year,” he said. “It’s going to be sad to see the fans go, but I’ll be back to watch them next year. I’ll come visit. I’ve got to catch a couple of games anyway.”
Looking back at their careers, four of the five pointed to one thing as the best moment for the them so far:
“It would definitely be beating Harvard last year in the playoffs,” Svoboda said.
Only Burt cited other events.
“My shutout against Princeton this year. It took me three or four years to get it, and that felt good to get a shutout here,” he said.
Both McNiven and Burt had tales which they smiled at telling.
“I think I gave Schafer a bloody nose one time in practice,” McNiven chuckled. “I think that was kind of interesting.”
Burt cited a brawl against Union’s goalie two years ago.
“My fight against Union, that was a good one.”
However, this class feels that it has something left to accomplish. This class came in after the Red had won two consecutive ECAC championships.
“We got to play with guys who knew what it took to get there up until last year. And not this is the first year that no one has been on a championship team, and that’s been kind of one of the goals for our class,” Powell said. “We don’t want to be the class that never won a championship; we want to go and get one.”
For the team to achieve that goal, it will have to start winning this weekend, in front of its home crowd. And one thing is a constant among the classes that play hockey for the Red.
“I was happy to play here with the Lynah Faithful on our side for four years. I had a great time,” Burt said.
Archived article by J.V. Anderton