This article appears in the 2007 edition of The Sun’s annual Freshman Issue.
In preparation for this Friday’s Harvard game, Paul Testa went ice fishing on Cayuga Lake with junior assistant captain Topher Scott of the men’s hockey team. While waiting for the ice to freeze, Testa shot a few questions Scott’s way.
1. This weekend is the much-anticipated Harvard game, and last year’s results have to still leave a bitter taste in your mouth — losing 6-2 to Harvard in the ECACHL final. How long have you and the team been looking forward to this game?
Since they beat us at the ECACs, we owe them big-time for what happened.
Can we expect more than just Crimson jerseys on the ice?
Yeah. I’ll say right now it is going to be a war out there.
I think everyone here at Cornell knows that Harvard sucks, but it seems like the 0-3-0 Crimson suck a little bit more this year than other years. What’s you’re impression of them?
Records can be deceiving. We know they’ve got a good team coming in, and it’s always a game that we get up for and that fans get up for.
How is it different from any other game on your schedule?
It’s tough because there are a lot of added incentives to the game, but you’ve got to stick to your gameplan. The adrenaline gets flowing a little more, especially when the fans are out there cheering and everything.
Can you put an over-under on the game?
I don’t know if I can do that, but I can tell you that we’re going to come out swinging.
Are we going to be disappointed?
No. Absolutely not.
2. This year’s Red has a different look than year’s past, with maybe a smaller, faster lineup. What’s your impression of the team so far?
I think this year’s team is going to bring a lot of excitement. There’ll definitely be a lot of skill, a lot of goal scoring. It’s definitely a little bit different from the big, hard-hitting teams of the past.
Can we call this “The Topher Effect?”
No, definitely not. I mean, the way the rules are changing there have been a lot of penalties.
There’s going to be a transition period for a couple of years because we’re not used to not being able to hook and hold. In a couple of years, it’s definitely going to open up the game for skill and speed players.
Have you seen that in these first couple of games.
Yeah, there’s more room out there because you don’t have guys reaching onto you. It’s great.
3. How do you like the renovations and the new Lynah Rink in general?
It’s great. It brings a lot of energy to the rink because the fans are right on top of you now.
Did they renovate the locker rooms?
They’re in the process. We won’t be in our new locker rooms until next month.
I’ve stood outside the locker rooms, and I think they could maybe use some more ventilation. The smell is awful.
Well, it is a hockey rink.
It’s worse than the Oxley Equestrian Center. Do you not even notice it anymore?
Yeah, we’re immune to it, but I can tell when someone goes in there for the first time.
Do you guys even shower?
Yeah, we shower every once and while.
Not if you’re on a winning streak, though, right?
Is there any guy on the team who’s like Mr. Stinky and no one wants to sit next to him on the bus?
I don’t know. I could get in trouble for saying something.
Is it you?
I hope it’s not me. Hmm, it might be kind of funny.
Hilarious. It’s more of an honor really; Hockey players are supposed to be smelly.
You know what, [sophomore] Mike Kennedy maybe, but I’m kind of just saying that more to get a rise out of him. He’s not stinky.
At least not on the ice. Do you wash your gear?
The jerseys and socks and stuff get washed, but all the stuff underneath, like shoulder pads, doesn’t get washed.
Eau de Topher.
4. Why Topher? Why not Chris or even Christopher?
I don’t know. My parents have called me that ever since I was born. If you’ve ever met my parents, they’re great people, but they’re a little out there.
I’ve heard some great stories. Tell me a little bit about your dad, Bob Scott.
[Laughing.] Yeah, I think my dad — guys get more excited when my dad comes down more than anything else. He’s a character.
What’s in the fridge at home?
Well, my dad’s trying to lose weight right now — I don’t know why — so there’s a lot of healthy kind of girly foods.
That’s not what I’ve heard. I’ve heard tell of an epic beer fridge at the Scott residence.
[Shakes head laughing.] Yeah, my dad likes to hang out with the boys and have a few.
But this isn’t just any beer fridge; we’re talking like Frigidaire Beermaster 3000, right?
He always has some presents for the guys when they come down.
What’s the beverage of choice?
Yeah for him or the team. Are you guys a Molson or maybe a Labatts squad?
There are a lot of Canadian kids on the team, so Labatts is a pretty popular choice.
See, I don’t understand that. I have a hunch that Labatts is made from Zamboni runoff and fermented maple leaves. What’s your opinion?
We don’t really drink that much of it. It’s mostly the cheap stuff because we’re struggling college students just like anyone else. The cheaper anything is the better.
Topher Scott, a man of the people.
5. So I have to ask this: does size really matter?
I don’t think so. People have different roles on the team. You need some big guys. You need some little guys.
Basically, you’re kind of a hero to me and every 5-6 male at Cornell.
How do you deal with the size differential when you’re going up against some massive defenseman?
I really just don’t think about that. You just go out there and do what you know you can do and not worry about what anybody else has to say.
When people ask you how tall you are, do you include the skates?
[Laughing.] That’s probably one of the most frequently asked questions to me is, “Are you actually 5-6?” and the skates may be included there.
6. You’re from the Chicagoland area. What happened to the Bears last weekend?
Oh man, I don’t want to talk about it.
Sexy Rexy was not so sexy.
He was not, no. We’ve got the NFL package at our house and it was tough to watch. People hold a high standard for the Bears in Chicago, so it was tough to see them just get bounced like that.
The Chicago Blackhawks aren’t exactly an NHL powerhouse. How did you get into hockey?
Well, my dad played, my grandfather refs and all my mom’s brothers played. It’s kind of just like a hockey family.
Do you guys have a family hockey game come Thanksgiving?
Oh yeah, we play some shinny in the basement. I’m the oldest of probably about 20 cousins so it gets pretty intense down there.
Have you ever had to explain to your aunt why little Patty is bleeding and missing his front tooth?
Yeah, but they all know what’s going on. It’s competitive; I mean we’re an Irish family.
Really? With 20 cousins, I never would’ve guessed. My mom plays hockey and all my uncles played, so we always rent out the ice for Thanksgiving.
Yeah, it’s the only time I ever get out on the ice, and the best part is the end of game fight and taking down an uncle or two.
Oh yeah, every time.
7. It seems like fighting and hockey go together like fries with gravy and cheese. Do you think college hockey would be a better game if they just let players hug it out like they do in the NHL?
I think it could be. I think college is kind of unique in that it doesn’t allow it.
I think the fans would love it.
Yeah, the fans would love it. It’s a rush to fight. I think its good to be able to protect yourself and protect your teammates from a cheap shot by being able to go over and tell a kid not to do that anymore with more than just words.
Do you have signature Topher Scott moves when it comes to a fight? Are you lining the gloves with tin foil?
That would be funny, but not really.
I assume you’ve seen your fair share of fights. What’s it like?
It’s kind of like one of those things in Old School, where it’s like, “Woah, I just blacked out. What just happened?” Maybe it’s because I lost the fight, but it’s a total rush.
What’s your strategy? Do you go for the jersey over the head?
Well, I haven’t gotten into too many fights. Usually the guys are a lot bigger than me so I’m trying to protect myself and get in close to them. But, yeah, if you can get the guy’s jersey over his head, that’s the goal of any hockey player.
Against Brown last weekend, you took a vicious crosscheck to the back. What’s it like to just get pounded from behind week in and week out?
I think that’s part of the fun of the game. If I come out of the weekend feeling good with no aches and pains, I feel like I haven’t done much.
You’ve got the bruise on the arm. Is that from a game or practice?
Yeah, that was from this weekend.
Do you just wake up the next day and are like, “Where the hell did that come from,” or do you remember certain hits?
Some hits you remember, but a lot of times you just look at you arms and your body and you’re just like, “Wow.”
I feel like you get targeted a lot, but do you ever get to dish out some pain?
I try. I don’t know how much hurt I can do to people. I try to get in there every once and while.
You played hurt for basically all of last year. What was the injury?
It didn’t seem to affect your shooting.
It hurt, but at the same time, everybody’s hurting. There’s nothing better than scoring a goal. No better feeling.
Really? Nothing better than scoring a goal?
[Looks around indecisively].
If I were to offer you a choice between a mystery door and scoring a goal, what would you choose?
I might be a little curious about what was behind the mystery door, but in terms of hockey, there’s nothing better than scoring a goal.
Year’s supply of fries poutine was behind the mystery door.
I’m not from Canada …
I think you made the right choice.
8. Does it ever get lonely being one of the few Americans on the team?
I think the other guys wish they were from America.
Do they try to act American?
No, they’re way proud, way too proud to be Canadian.
Do they have a secret Canadian language that they speak amongst one another comprised of only ’bout’s and eh’s?
Sometimes, but I’m around it so much I get made fun of back home by my friends for talking like them.
Have you gone Canuck?
I hope not.
Who’s the most Canadian on the team?
Probably [senior captain] Byron Bitz. He loves where he’s from, in wherever-that-is, Saskatchewan.
Isn’t that in Russia or something?
It might as well be.
9. What’s the greatest hockey movie of all time?
Greatest hockey movie? Slap Shot.
Excellent. Matt Moulson ’06 said the same thing.
Most hockey players say so.
That’s how you know the real hockey players. Do you have any guys on the team who are maybe bringing their toy cars on the road?
Yeah, there are a couple of guys who are pretty funny on the road. We’ve got a freshman, Ben Scrivens, who’s a pretty funny kid. He’s a little out there.
He’s a goalie. I don’t know how to explain it. Anybody who wants to strap up and get 100 mile per hour pucks shot at them is a little out there.
I think I’ll pass. So what’s your favorite quote from Slap Shot?
Probably, “They brought their ‘frickin’ toys …”
Better they’re playing with their toys than …
[Laughing] Yeah exactly.
10. What’s the hottest women’s varsity team at Cornell?
That’s a tough question.
I assume you’re familiar with the options here.
Yeah, I got a lot of input from a lot of different people.
This has to be you. I don’t want the hockey team’s pick.
OK, I might have to go with women’s soccer. They’re kind of a dark horse maybe.
Wow. I mean they’ve been picked before, but what is it about women’s soccer?
I know a couple girls on the team that are pretty cute.
Any names in particular?
I don’t know if I can name any names. I don’t want to do that to them.
My predecessor/idol, Per Ostman [’34] also picked women’s soccer, and he talked about a leg to thrust ratio. I mean soccer players have great legs, but do you have any clue what he’s talking about?
They do have great legs. I don’t know.
I assume most of my female readers, all two of them, want to know what Topher Scott looks for in a girl in general. Is it shin pads and cleats?
No, I don’t want her to be more athletic than I am. I don’t know. Short girls. I don’t know why.
I know what you mean, but my mantra’s always been that everyone’s the same height lying down.
That’s good! I might have put that in my vocabulary. I like it.
I hope it works better for you than it did for me.
Paul Testa is an Sun Assistant Sports Editor. 10 Questions will appear every Thursday this semester unless Testa gets called up to the Charlestown Chiefs. Comments and suggestions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.