August 21, 2006

Men’s Hockey Reloads Roster

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With 8:47 left in the third overtime, Wisconsin’s Jack Skille received a pass in the high slot and rifled a one-time shot to the right of goaltender David McKee ’07. The longest scoreless game in NCAA men’s hockey tournament history — clocking in at 111:13 minutes — and the Red’s quest for a championship died in the third overtime of the quarterfinals.

[img_assist|nid=17834|title=Dearly departed.|desc=David McKee ’07 blocks a shot for Cornell last year before leaving the Red at the end of the season to join the Anaheim Ducks. (Robert Bonow / Sun Photo Editor)|link=popup|align=right|width=80|height=100]

Cornell finished its season 22-9-4, departing the tournament in the quarterfinals for the second consecutive season. Top-seeded Wisconsin would go on to win the tournament, and soon thereafter, McKee would leave Cornell a year early for the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. Sasha Pokulok ’08 followed suit a few months later, signing with the NHL’s Washington Capitals one year after they took him as the 14th overall pick in the NHL draft.

“There’s no question [Pokulok] wanted to play professional hockey,” said head coach Mike Shafer ’86 said. “We’re very happy for him and his family.”

Schafer expressed similar sentiments in August when defenseman Ryan O’Byrne ’08 signed a contract with the Montreal Canadiens.

“Ryan has a bright future in the NHL. With his size and skating ability he fits the mold of the big, mobile defenseman,” Schafer said in a press release. “We’re extremely happy for Ryan. He’s living his lifelong dream of playing professional hockey.”

Captain Matt Moulson ’06, assistant captains Chris Abbott ’06 and Jon Gleed ’06, and Cam Abbott ’06, Louis Chabot ’06 and Daniel Pergoraro ’06 graduated in May, leaving many holes to be filled. But to replace the veterans, Schafer has brought in a talented group of freshman made up of forwards Blake Gallagher, Colin Greening, Justin Milo, Tony Romano and Joe Scali, defensemen Justin Krueger and Brendon Nash, and goalie Ben Scrivens to join the Red for the 2006-07 season.

“With the talent of these players and the losses we suffered from last year’s team, the incoming freshmen will have a great opportunity to come in and make an impact on Cornell hockey,” Shafer said. “The forwards we have coming in, I think, are a real good blend of what we need. We have guys that are small that are very skilled offensively that give us players like we’ve had here in the past. … We also have players who can … play physical, kill penalties [and] do other things.”

At 5-7 and 175 pounds, Gallagher is small, but he is a major goal-scoring threat at forward with an excellent hockey sense. Playing for the Notre Dame Hounds of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, he notched 32 goals and 27 assists in 55 games, leading all rookies in goals scored and placing third in points by a rookie in the league.

Greening is a 6-2, 195-pound physical left-wing with a well-rounded game. An alternate captain as a rookie for the Nanaimo Clippers of the British Columbia Hockey League, he notched 30 goals, the second-highest total on the team, and had 35 assists.

Milo scored 25 goals and had 21 assists in 61 games for the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League. At 5-8, the 170-pound left wing was a member of Team USA at the 2006 Viking Cup, and should add a deadly scoring touch to the Red attack.

Romano, a 5-10 170-pound forward, scored 102 points for the New York Bobcats of the Atlantic Junior Hockey League. He notched 50 goals in only 40 games, leading his team to an AJHL championship.

A speedy, hard-working forward, Scali can run up numbers on offense, as he scored 28 goals and added 30 assists for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs of the British Columbia Hockey League. But the 5-11, 190-pound winger is best at penalty-killing, and was selected to the BCHL All-Star Game.

Schafer believes that his new defensemen are also similar to the kind he has had in the past — players who can contribute on both ends of the ice.

Krueger is a 6-2, 205-pound defenseman with size and great speed who regularly joins the offensive rush. He had 10 goals and 18 assists in 64 games for the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League. Krueger was also a member of Team Germany at the 2006 World Under-17 tournament, a was voted by his teammates as the top-conditioned athlete.

Nash is a 6-3, 205-pound defenseman with great mobility and good vision with the puck. A member of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the British Columbia Hockey League, Nash registered nine goals and 39 assists in 63 games. He was selected to participate in the BCHL All-Star Game and was named to Team West for the Top Prospects game by CJAHL.

Scrivens is a goalie with good size and mobility. He played his best hockey in pressure situations, leading Team North to the 2006 Viking Cup championship. He went 27-12-3 with a 2.43 goals against average and a .921 save percentage with the Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

Lynah under renovation

As soon as last season ended, construction crews descended upon Lynah Rink — which has been closed to the public since that time — beginning work to add 19,500 square feet to the rink. The additions and renovations include plans for 464 new seats, locker rooms for both the men’s and women’s squads and their opponents, trainers’ rooms, coaches’ offices and a study area for players. New scoreboards will also be added, including one at center ice, as will preferred seating and a tunnel for the players.

The construction is being completed in phases to allow the physical education, intramural and varsity teams to feel as minimal an effect as possible. That contingency takes the form of securing dates at a rink in Elmira, N.Y., which could be the site of Cornell home games in the early part of the season if construction falls behind schedule. But if the unveiling of the new Lynah is delayed, Shafer won’t mind that much.

“I have no problem; the team has no problem,” he said. “There’s a lot of people that are sacrificing right now so that everything will be better. … It will have an effect [on us], but you’ve got to be flexible to get what you want.”