Imagine the men’s ice hockey team without senior defenseman Charlie Cook. There’d be no game-winning goal against RPI in the 2001-02 ECAC semifinals. There’d be no one to set up the go ahead and winning goals against MSU-Mankato in the 2002-03 NCAA tournament. There’d be one less experienced defenseman to anchor one of the NCAA’s top defensive units.
Now stop imagining. It almost happened.
For all practical purposes, Cook should be wearing yellow and black this season. Originally, the defenseman had committed to Michigan Tech, after a lengthy look at some of the other in-state schools. It was only after Watters was removed as coach, and Cook’s letter of intent invalidated, that he began to look elsewhere. Luckily for the Lynah Faithful, his travels (and parents) brought him to Ithaca.
“The reason that I am here playing at Cornell is the sacrifices made by my parents,” Cook said. “Without their sacrifice, the 6:00 a.m. summer practices with former pro Ange Guzzo would not have been possible.”
Once on East Hill, he earned ice time as a freshman in 35 games, and made an immediate impact on the defense. What’s more, Cook took his game out of Cornell’s end and established himself as a key member of the team’s power play. Working his way from the second to first unit, he realized the keys to being an effective part of the offense.
“I’m always telling myself, ‘shoot,’ because if you’re not looking to shoot, you’re not a threat,” Cook said.
That attitude is something head coach Mike Schafer ’86 has recognized, and would like to see more of in the coming season.
“Charlie has to be a little bit more forceful on the transition game as far as getting up on the play,” he said. “He had a good year on the power play and I think he can bring even more five-on-five.”
Still, if nothing else, Cook’s teammates and coaches would be happy with him continuing his solid efforts on and off the ice.
“He’s always under control out there,” said junior assistant captain Matt Moulson. “Charlie doesn’t rush anything, and he always knows what he’s doing. He’s just a smooth player, and a great defender.”
“I expect Charlie to play the same way that he played last year,” Schafer said. “Charlie’s got a tremendous commitment to the game. He doesn’t leave any stone unturned as far a preparation, and his progress demonstrates that.”
This year, Cook and his teammates are thinking of one thing — bringing home