November 3, 2006

Davenport Gets Nod to Start in Goal for Cornell

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In 2004, the Cornell men’s hockey team announced that goaltender Troy Davenport would join the recruiting class of 2008. Davenport, a freshman that year, received little attention in the shadow of David McKee ’07, the eventual Hobey Baker finalist who started every game in goal for the Red in 2004-05. In fact, by mid-season, few people realized that Davenport had mysteriously disappeared.

“[McKee] was in a special situation where he could play every game for us,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “Now someone needs to step into his shoes.”

After a brief absence, Davenport appears poised to assume the starting position in net for the Red this season. The sophomore left Cornell only a few weeks into his rookie campaign to return to his junior team, the Des Moines Buccaneers of the United States Hockey League. In a season and a half with the Bucs, Davenport appeared in 52 games — a certain upgrade from the time he would have seen for Cornell.

“I wanted to get some games in for my development,” Davenport said. “[This season], the situation looked good for me to come back to Cornell. With [McKee] gone, I knew a spot was going to be open if I could win the job.”

A native of Inver Grove Heights, Minn., Davenport joins the Cornell goaltenders’ royal line of succession — one that has recently led to the National Hockey League. McKee and his predecessor, David LeNeveu ’05, are with the Anaheim Ducks and Phoenix Coyotes, respectively.

Yet, for Davenport, preliminary comparisons to two of college hockey’s most successful netminders by virtue of alma mater are not necessarily warranted.

“I don’t want to compare myself with anyone,” he said. “I have to go out there and play my game.”

Davenport will also benefit from the traditionally impenetrable Red defense. Despite the early departures of Ryan O’Byrne ’07 and Sasha Pokulok ’08, the Cornell defensive system which has frustrated ECACHL opponents for years remains in place. In his first two official starts for the team — against Robert Morris and RIT — Davenport witnessed firsthand how privileged the life of a Cornell goaltender can be.

“The more shots my team can block, it makes my job easier every time,” Davenport said. “I just want to go out there and give us a chance to win.”

Davenport’s teammates, however, are already confident in his abilities — sterling defense or not.

“We need to tip our hats off to Troy,” said junior assistant captain Topher Scott following the Red’s 5-3 victory over RIT last weekend. “He has a great mindset and we are extremely confident in him.”

Davenport possesses the winning mentality appropriate for a Cornell program accustomed to victories. In juniors last season, the goaltender posted a 21-12 record and led Des Moines to a USHL championship. Davenport’s .917 save percentage and 2.62 goals-against average were amongst the best in the league.

As the No. 12 Red prepares for the onset of league play – beginning with a road game against Brown tonight – the squad hopes Davenport will eventually augment his trophy case with some ECACHL hardware.

“Troy is off to a good start,” said senior captain Byron Bitz. “He can step up and get the job done.”

Backing up Davenport at the moment is sophomore Dan DiLeo and freshman Ben Scrivens. DiLeo returns for his second season with the Red after missing the majority of 2005-06 with an injury. He hails from St. Louis, Mo.

Scrivens, from Spruce Grove, Alberta, was the team MVP of his Spruce Grove Saints (Alberta Junior Hockey League) last season.

Regardless of who gets the start on any given night, the Cornell squad should have little trouble keeping opponents’ scoring down.

“We do play very well in front of our goaltenders,” Schafer said.