It’s not often that a team can go from two wins to 15 wins in consecutive seasons, but that’s what the Cornell club hockey team recently accomplished. After finishing 2-12-0 in 2002-03, the team finished its 2003-04 campaign with a 15-7-1 record, and capped the year by winning the New York College Hockey League postseason tournament. Cornell defeated Lemoyne and Cortland to advance to the championship game, where it faced Hobart, and came from behind to win the game, 4-2.
“I think we had a much more solid group of guys than last year. Last year, we didn’t have a very big team, and a lot of guys were very busy with different things, and there wasn’t a lot of senior leadership,” said captain Nat Brand ’04. “This year we had a lot of freshmen come to tryouts, and they stuck with us even through rush, and it turned out to be a good year because we had a good balance of young guys and good senior leadership.”
At the beginning of last season, the team’s coach quit, and Ben Hysell ’02 and Gary Brandt stepped in as the coaching staff. Hysell commuted in from Rochester to coach the team, and Brandt served as assistant coach and faculty advisor.
“[Ben’s] good at just making sure the guys keep their priorities in order and stay focused in the locker room when we need them to stay focused,” Brandt said.
After playing in the Eastern Collegiate Hockey League last season, Cornell helped to found the eight-team NYCHL last summer. The new league is composed of only teams in New York State, with most away games only an hour-and-a-half away.
Cornell held practices weekly on Monday and Wednesday nights and began its season in late October. After facing little difficulty in the early part of its schedule, the team faced some tougher opponents this semester, splitting a home-and-home series with Fredonia.
“There was one game where we traveled to Colgate with eight guys, and they had a full squad, and we beat them 5-4. There’s definitely a lot of talent on the team, and at the beginning of the year everyone gelled together really nicely,” Brand said.
As a club sport, the members of the team pay dues that go towards ice time for practice and games, equipment, insurance, and travel expenses. The team also received financial support from the SAFC. With these funds, the team was also able to purchase new uniforms at the beginning of the season.
“We ended up getting a good amount of money from the SAFC, they were very generous this year, and we really appreciated that,” Brand said.
Next year, the team hopes to add more games to its schedule, and the NYCHL could possibly expand also. While the team graduates six seniors this year, it has a lot of young members thanks to good recruiting in the fall. With a good coaching staff in place and a lot of returning members, the team will look for continued success in the years to come.
“We’re hoping that the momentum we created this year is going to convince the guys that the club team is worth sticking to, and that it’s a good thing to do at a busy university,” Brand said.
Archived article by Jonathan Auerbach
Sun Staff Writer