Sophomore goalie David LeNeveu will be wearing a red and white jersey over winter break, just like his men’s hockey teammates. The only difference is, LeNeveu’s jersey will have a maple leaf on the front instead of his school’s name.
LeNeveu, who has played every minute in net this season, will be taking a leave of absence from the seventh-ranked Red for four weeks as he participates in the Canadian Junior National Team selection camp and, if he makes the team, in the World Junior Hockey championship.
“It is a great honor,” said LeNeveu. “I’m very pleased … I expected to go back to this winter camp. That was just one of the steps I had to take; now the final step I have to take is to make the team.”
LeNeveu is the only collegiate player invited to the camp, and he has already taken part in a development camp for the Canadian program in August.
A second-round draft pick of the Phoenix Coyotes, LeNeveu has posted stellar numbers so far this season. In nine games, his record is 8-1-0, and he is second in the nation in goals against average, allowing just 1.11 per game. In addition, he ranks third in save percentage (.946) and is tied for first with three shutouts.
That type of play will be exactly what Canadian Junior National team head coach Marc Habscheid will be looking for out of the Fernie, B.C. native.
“I just have to go down there and play the way I’ve been playing so far this season, and just keep as many pucks out of the net as I can and basically play my game, not try to overdo myself or not prepare properly, but do the same exact things that I’ve been doing all year,” said LeNeveu.
While the Red will certainly miss LeNeveu’s presence between the pipes, head coach Mike Schafer ’86 has no hesitations about letting him compete for his nation.
“We’re hoping that Lenny makes it. Everybody questions, ‘Should he go?'” remarked Schafer. “People don’t understand the honor it is to be there. And I really feel David will make the team. Americans really have a hard time understanding.”
LeNeveu will have to compete with three other goalies for a spot on the squad, which is made up of the best Canadians under the age of 20.
“Obviously the competition is going to be very stiff just to make the team, and hopefully when I do make the team, the competition around the world is going to be very good,” said LeNeveu.
Should he earn a roster spot, he will miss a quartet of games on Cornell’s schedule. The Red will compete in the Everblades Classic in Florida for the third season in a row, where it will face Maine on Dec. 28 and then either Ohio State or Massachusetts the next day. Cornell has already defeated the Buckeyes, 3-1, in its season opener.
After the tournament, the Red will travel to the North Country for its annual trip to St. Lawrence and Clarkson the next weekend. While both teams have losing records this season, the North Country games are typically one of the toughest road trips of each season.
Either junior Todd Marr or freshman Louis Chabot will man the crease for Cornell in those four games. Neither goaltender has ever seen action in a Red jersey.
“I don’t expect the team to let down at all,” said LeNeveu. “I know in my absence they’ll work as hard for Louis or Todd or whoever plays, and I expect them to do very well in the tournament.”
Although Cornell’s sophomore goalie will be competing for his country, he doesn’t expect to forget about his teammates stateside.
“That will be one of my main priorities,” LeNeveu said of following the Red’s progress. “I’ll be either giving the guys a call, or watching over the Internet, or talking to my parents — somebody will keep me informed.”
If LeNeveu makes the national squad, he will have mixed feelings about leaving his Red teammates behind. Still, competing for his country will fulfill one of his lifetime dreams.
“Obviously, I don’t want to leave my team here and I don’t want to miss the games that we have to play, because I know that they are very important as well,” he said. “But my teammates realize that this has been a dream for me ever since I was very young and I have a chance to realize this dream, and they’re more than supportive, letting me go and play for Canada.”
Meanwhile, while LeNeveu is playing for Canada and rooting for Cornell, his coach on the East Hill will be doing just the opposite.
“We’ll try to follow him as much as possible,” said Schafer. “In my heart I believe that he should be the No. 1 goaltender for Canada.”
Archived article by Alex Fineman