The trademark of every successful Cornell hockey team has been its defense. Every time a squad has put up gaudy offensive numbers, it’s been more icing on the cake than a necessary condition for success.
At the start of this season, the Red was confident that this team would follow that time-tested pattern of defensive dominance. You could imagine the team’s elation, though, with the prospects of an offensive unit that is perhaps equally as potent.
“Depth is the name of the game,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “Last year, being a younger team up front with a lot of injuries, we just didn’t have four capable lines to just roll on teams. We did it early in the year when we didn’t have injuries. The confidence I have as far as being able to play a lot of guys in a lot of different situations allows us to stay fresh, allows us to play a very up-tempo game as far as being able to pressure the puck, allows us to outwork teams.”
Cornell’s success on the offensive end of the ice will unquestionably come down to the sheer talent on the roster. Not unlike last year, the Red boasts plenty of big names at the forward positions. There are two big differences though — experience and health.
“It’s very difficult to outwork teams with three lines and five defensemen,” Schafer said. “That’s where we were in a lot of the parts of the games last year, whether it was injuries or the transition of freshmen or guys not playing up to potential, it left us shorthanded as far as depth is concerned.”
This year’s edition of the Red has talent from top to bottom. Though the team is only a couple of weeks past the beginning of official practices, it seems clear that some favorites have emerged as the top lines.
The combination of junior assistant captain Matt Moulson, freshman Topher Scott, and junior Shane Hynes has already provided its share of production. Scott, the 5-6 speedster from Buffalo Grove, Ill., may have already established himself as a fan-favorite with his two-goal performance in the exhibition game against McGill. He’s joined by Moulson and Hynes, two of the Red’s most productive wingers of the past two seasons.
The triumvirate of senior captain Mike Knoepfli, senior assistant captain Mike Iggulden, and sophomore Mitch Carefoot is listed as the top line on the Cornell depth chart, and for good reason.
All three scored during last weekend’s dominating set against Atlantic Hockey League rivals Army and Sacred Heart, including Carefoot’s short-handed goal Friday night against Army. It was the first short-handed goal for the Red in almost two years.
Add the talent of juniors Cam and Chris Abbott, and Daniel Pegoraro, sophomore Mark McCutcheon, and highly-touted freshman Raymond Sawada, and Cornell has one of the more intimidating corps of forwards in the country. More importantly, it allows Schafer some much-needed flexibility.
“I want us to have as balanced an amount of minutes as we can get,” he said. “Obviously, there’s going to be more power plays this year and penalty kills, so guys like Moulson and Topher Scott, guys who are on the power play, that we’re not wearing them down killing penalties all the time. Guys that are logging minutes on the penalty kill, they’ll have to sacrifice some minutes on the power play.”
Archived article by Owen Bochner
Sun Sports Editor