For a goaltender, icing is usually bad news. It means a faceoff in your own zone and continued pressure from the opposing forwards. For standout men’s hockey sophomore goalie David LeNeveu, though, icing of another sort is a good thing.
“Sure, the individual accomplishments are a nice icing on the cake, but they really still don’t mean that much,” said LeNeveu.
Despite his team-oriented nature, the icing has been heaped on this season, as LeNeveu has garnered acclaim nationwide for his play in the net. His list of honors is extremely lengthy: seven ECAC honor rolls, two ECAC Goalie of the Week nods, the February IHCCA Player of the Month, Ivy League first team, ECAC first team, Ivy League Player of the Year, ECAC Co-Player of the Year, ECAC tournament Most Outstanding Player, and now the sophomore is a finalist for the Hobey Baker award, given to college hockey’s top player.
Senior co-captain Doug Murray, himself a finalist last year, is confident in LeNeveu’s credentials for the award.
“I’m happy I’m not there competing against him,” joked Murray. “Ryan Miller got it a couple years ago, when he set the shutout record, and I think Lenny’s what, one away or something like that, and right now has the lowest goals against all-time.”
LeNeveu is indeed poised to rewrite the NCAA record books with his statistics. His GAA of 1.13 is on pace to be the best ever, and he is one shutout behind Miller’s record of 10, which Miller set playing in 40 games in 2000-01. LeNeveu has racked up his nine in 29 games. In addition, LeNeveu has by far the best save percentage in the nation at .943.
Those figures have certainly made head coach Mike Schafer ’86 a member of the LeNeveu for Hobey campaign.
“When you put up the best numbers ever in college hockey as a goaltender, I think you should win the award,” said Schafer. “What if one of the players has put up the best offensive numbers ever in the history of college hockey? I don’t see that in the offensive players in the country. They’re not having the record year of putting up 114 points, whatever the single season record is. So I think that David, in his position, is definitely a worthy recipient of the Hobey Baker.”
Miller was the last goalie to win the award, posting a 31-5-4 record for Michigan State and a .950 save percentage with a 1.32 GAA. LeNeveu’s statistics are very comparable to those of Miller, who is now in the Buffalo Sabres’ organization and played 15 games with the NHL club this year.
Murray, who has the luxury of playing in front of LeNeveu, noted that having a goalie such as LeNeveu between the pipes gives a huge confidence boost.
“It’s like a lifetime insurance policy,” said the defenseman. “Every time you screw up, you know he can be there to bail you out, so it’s a huge advantage, especially for a defenseman, to be able to play with confidence and not be afraid to make mistakes.”
Although LeNeveu’s contribution to the defense comes in the intangible form of virtual insurance, it is the concrete numbers that Murray points to as the reason Cornell’s goalie is the best player in all of college hockey.
“The goalie position is the easiest one to use the numbers, and if you look at the numbers, it’s just truly amazing,” observed Murray. “It’s not that he has the low goals against and not a high save percentage. He has it all. He’s an amazing player and he has a great chance to win it.”
For LeNeveu, the Hobey Baker award would just be more icing on his cake. As the team heads into the NCAA tournament, though, the netminder is still working on baking the cake.
“I definitely think I’ll take time to reflect on what’s happened the past season, but I know I’ll be a more happy individual being able to look back and seeing what our team accomplished with the ECAC championship and what we’re about to accomplish going into the NCAA tournament,” he said.
The icing, as any chef can tell you, is put on after the cake is done.
Archived article by Alex Fineman