The lights in Lynah Rink have been turned off. The ice has been melted. Hockey has begun its summer hibernation, and it won’t pop back up to the surface for another six months.
But that’s not to say that this past hockey season has already been forgotten. On the contrary, this season could be remembered for years to come as a watershed moment for Cornell hockey.
“It was a tremendous year for Cornell hockey,” head coach Mike Schafer ’86 said. “The things that this team accomplished haven’t been done around here in a long, long time.”
What Schafer is talking about is a laundry list of benchmarks that the Red (25-8-2, 17-3-2 ECAC) met or leapt over in 2001-2002. The first regular season ECAC title since 1973. An NCAA tournament appearance. The second-best defense in the country. Four scorers with at least 30 points and six with at least 20. A Hobey Baker Finalist in junior defenseman Doug Murray. Two goaltenders who amassed Ken Dryden-like numbers.
“This group of players did a tremendous job of putting Cornell back into a nationally-prominent role,” Schafer said. “[This team] has elevated us to a little bit of a different level.”
Regrettably, Cornell couldn’t meet all of its goals. In the best-case scenario, the Red could have brought home four banners to hand up in the Lynah rafters: for the Ivy League title, the ECAC tournament crown, an NCAA tournament appearance and the national championship. It could only succeed in the Ivy League and NCAA tournament departments.
But not only was the Red perilously close in winning the ECAC —