November 5, 2004

Goaltenders Solidify Red Defense

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Oftentimes, it is a lonely world between the pipes. Secluded in the defensive zone while one’s comrades accumulate statistics of the more glorious variety, a goaltender can only sit and wait for the inevitable onslaught of rib-cracking shots. Arguably the most pressure-filled position in all of sports, the hockey goaltender can determine the outcome of each game he plays in: will he stop 50 pucks to steal an upset for the underdog or give up three soft goals en route to a humiliating defeat?

Luckily for the men’s hockey team, goaltending has never been an issue. With a rich and storied tradition including Canadiens legend Ken Dryden ’69 and bright NHL prospect David LeNeveu ’05, Cornell netminders have consistently stolen the spotlight from their offensive counterparts — not to mention forming the backbone of a team renowned nationally for its defense. This season, with the return of ECAC Co-Rookie of the Year David McKee and the arrival of a scorching new prospect in freshman Troy Davenport, that trend seems likely to continue.

With such an incredible amount of depth at the position, head coach Mike Schafer ’86 hopes a little competition between McKee, Davenport and returning junior Louis Chabot will motivate each of them to consistently improve their game.

“At all our positions, competition is important,” Schafer said. “Last year, David had a really good year, and that’s evident. But like any other athlete, without serious competition, your ability to get better and continue to improve doesn’t happen at the level you always want.” McKee, who assumed the starting job at the beginning of last year and played all but 13:44 of the season, will be the Red’s number one goaltender the Red’s season opener at home against Army.

Lurking just behind McKee is Davenport, a freshman hailing from Inver Grove Hts., Minn. The lanky (6-1, 170 pounds) rookie played for the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League last season, earning defensive player of the week honors on two occasions from the Junior A league. Davenport compiled a 24-19-3 record with the Gamblers — including two shutouts — and finished with a 2.72 goals against average and a .913 save percentage. He may also be a closet offensive threat — Davenport became the first goalie in Gamblers’ history last year to score an empty-net goal.

“Troy comes in as very technically sound,” Schafer said. “He has gone a good job in the preseason, and there’s no question he’s going to knock on the door looking for playing time this year.”

Davenport also has coaches and players excited for another reason — his play bears a striking resemblance to LeNeveu’s.

“If you talk to our guys, they’ll tell you he reminds them of David,” Schafer said. “His movement in the net; he’s very explosive, side to side, technique wise, he’s very similar.” Cementing the position is the veteran Chabot, who will also challenge for playing time this season. The junior saw action in the final 10 minutes of play against McGill, recording three saves — including a sparkling breakaway stop — in the Red’s victory.

“I give him a lot of credit, because it’s very difficult to maintain your focus when you don’t see a lot of playing time,” Schafer said.

Archived article by By KYLE SHEAHEN
by Kyle Sheahen
Sun Assistant Sports Editor