November 2, 2007

Sawada Leads Red Offense by Example

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For a player who has been in the spotlight since he arrived at Cornell three years ago, senior co-captain Ray Sawada has done an impressive job of staying strong under the pressure of high expectations. A second-round draft pick for the Dallas Stars in 2004, he showed that he could add aggression and skill to the Red offense. Even during the difficult season the Red suffered last year, Sawada emerged as one of the most physical and most successful offensive players.
Hockey wasn’t always been the sole focus for Sawada. Over the years, he also played basketball and participated in three events in track and field — the decathlon, the pole vault and the javelin. The Canada native even holds the pole vault record at Vancouver College High School.
But when Sawada played junior hockey for the Nanaimo Clippers and then was drafted by the Dallas Stars, it became pretty clear where his real talent lay. He started off his Cornell career with three points in his first five games and since then, his number have only improved. Perhaps equally impressive, he has never missed a game while playing for the Red, an accomplishment that shows dedication and perseverance. These are just some of the qualities that led his teammatees to elect him captain for the 2007-08 season.
During his sophomore year, Sawada really started putting up the numbers. He finished the season with seven goals, three of which he scored on the power play, and 13 assists. Last year, Sawada one-upped his personal record, ending the season with 10 goals and 11 assists. He scored four power play points and had a four-point game against Princeton, in which he scored two goals and had two assists. He also led the team in game-winning goals, proving himself to be a player who can produce in the clutch.
“You know I didn’t even know we had that stat,” Sawada said. “Everybody is just trying to score when you have the opportunity so when it came up I guess I just put the puck in the net.”
Based on the last three years, Sawada will be a key element on offense and a strong captain who can lead by example. Together with his linemates, sophomore Colin Greening and freshman Riley Nash, he will also be an threatening presence on the power play,. If he can continue to be the intimidating, goal scoring presence he’s proven to be for the Red in the past, he will be successful at leading the team to achieve the goals he has set for the season.
“We’ve all had that great feeling that this is something special coming up,” Sawada said.