For the coaches of the men’s hockey team, there is little time off during the summer months. After bringing home the ECACHL regular season and tournament titles, a fourth consecutive Ivy League title and earning a third NCAA tournament berth in four seasons, head coach Mike Schafer ’86 and assistant coaches Brent Brekke and Scott Garrow have been busy during the short time they have building another winning team for the 2005-06 season.
The Class of 2009 will bring eight new players into Lynah Rink for the Red — five forwards, two defensemen, and one goalie.
As always, the coaching staff is focused on bringing in student-athletes that possess the skill and talent to compete with the nation’s elite, along with the character and work ethic that have become hallmarks of the Cornell hockey program.
“Every player has their own characteristics — we don’t try to recruit kids that are exactly the same,” Schafer said. “The thing we do try to do is recruit kids that have great character and great work ethic. Those are the two things they have to have in order to be successful playing for us.”
Schafer credits his assistant coaches with bringing the best young talent into the winning tradition of Cornell hockey.
“Brent and Scott have done a tremendous job. It’s so easy just to look at skill and overlook the character aspect and the work ethic aspect,” he said.
The Red adds the most to the roster on the offensive end, with left wings Tyler Mugford, Evan Barlow, Ryan Kindret, right wing Matt Connors, and center Mike Kennedy all joining the team up front.
Mugford, Barlow, and Kindret all come to Cornell from the British Columbia Hockey League. Kindret was one of the leading scorers in the BCHL, scoring 88 points on 41 goals for the Silver Arm Silverbacks. Connors joins the Red by way of Buffalo, N.Y., and the Eastern Junior Hockey League. Kennedy is originally from Dorchester, Ont., and played in the Western Junior B Hockey League this past season, making an appearance in that league’s All-Star game.
“Ryan Kindret’s obviously an older kid who’s big, physical, a strong power forward,” Schafer said. “Evan Barlow is very tenacious, known as a goal scorer. Mike Kennedy — I think he’ll remind people a lot of Mike Iggulden ’05 as far as his skating ability and size and [being] a good two-way player. Matt Connors is probably one of the fastest players in that group — a big, strong kid, kind of a prototypical right-winger for us. Tyler Mugford I think will remind people who watched our program for a long time as a Mike Cooney ’97. You know, someone who always seems to be involved in physical play. They all kind of bring something different, but I think they’re going to fit in nicely with our guys.”
Incoming freshmen Jared Seminoff, also from the BCHL, and Taylor Davenport, a former member of the Drayton Valley Thunder of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, will fill in the defensive holes left by the graduation of Charlie Cook ’05 and Jeremy Downs ’05.
“They’re very mobile defensemen,” Schafer said. “They’re not as big as some of the guys we bring in normally, but they replace two guys who were very mobile. Again, we try to keep the same kind of chemistry and both Jared and Taylor can do that for us. Both guys graduating were great character guys, great leaders, and we see the same thing in both those guys.”
The Red also found another goaltender to complement CCM first-team All-American, junior David McKee, and senior Louis Chabot, in freshman Dan DiLeo. DiLeo was the goaltender for the Wichita Falls (Texas) Wildcats in the North American Hockey League, the same league McKee played in before suiting up for the Red.
“I think [Dan’s] going to start to compete with Louis Chabot for playing time,” Schafer said. “Because of David, right now in the recruiting process we’re not going to get the elite goaltender. Dan comes in with that same position Louis has, he’s very much a team guy, really wants to play, but yet he needs to improve more to play. Dan has that same kind of characteristics.”
The Red will expect the freshmen to compete for playing time right from the start.
“I talked to every single one of them and they sound excited to come in, they sound ready,” said senior captain Matt Moulson. “I told them we need them to step in right away.”
Schafer inks long-term deal
Cornell Athletics announced on July 1 that Mike Schafer ’86, the Jay R. Bloom ’77 Head Coach of Men’s Hockey, signed a long-term contract extension. Cornell did not disclose the terms of the contract.
“Most contracts are for four or five years and it’s a little bit longer,” Schafer said.
Schafer ranks sixth among active NCAA Division I coaches with a .643 winning percentage, and holds a career record of 199-103-34. In 10 years with Cornell, Schafer has been named ECACHL Coach of the Year three times. In the 2004-05 season, he led the Red to its third ECACHL regular season title in four years and won a fourth ECACHL tournament championship. He also notched a fourth straight Ivy League title, and led the Red to its third NCAA tournament appearance in the past four years.
“I love working with the guys we have,” Schafer said. “They kind of represent what it’s supposed to be all about, as far as grinding it out just like any other student on campus. And here, with the great crowd and the great atmosphere … coming to work every day is not a job, it’s just a lot of fun. And kind of looking long term with my family … knowing that things are pretty good here.”
“It’s great for coach and for us, he’s got a winning tradition,” Moulson said. “If he doesn’t have a winning team, he’ll soon make them one.”
Archived article by Olivia Dwyer
Sun Assistant Sports Editor