Men’s hockey head coach Mike Schafer ’86 was a defenseman during his career at Cornell, so it’s no surprise that he is known for constantly bringing in talented players at the position he once called his own. Despite a number of obstacles, this year’s defensive corps hopes to continue the tradition of excellence among Red blue liners and to help Cornell keep the opposing team off the board.
“As a collective group, we are ready to get it rolling,” said senior co-alternate captain Doug Krantz.
One of the biggest obstacles facing the defense this season is an injury to sophomore Brendon Nash. Nash had a solid freshman campaign last year and was named to the ECAC Hockey League All-Newcomer team after recording two goals and 12 assists. The sophomore also finished the year with a +7 rating.
This year, Nash was one-of-six ECAC Hockey League players and two defensemen named to the preseason coaches’ All-League team and was expected to be one of the leaders of Cornell’s defense. So far though, Nash’s injury has forced the defenseman to miss the team’s first game and he is out for the foreseeable future.
Aside from Nash’s injury, Cornell must deal with the graduation of Dan Glover ’07 and Evan Salmela ’07. The talented blue liners played important roles on the Cornell defense throughout their careers, so replacing them will not be easy. However, this is not the first time the Red has had to deal with replacing players on defense. In fact, before last season, heralded defensemen Ryan O’Byrne ’07 and Sasha Pakulok ’08 both left the team to sign contracts with NHL teams
Despite these losses, Cornell still has a lot of talented blue-liners waiting to fill the void. Most notable of this solid group of players is Krantz, who last year was one of four players on the team to play in all 31 contests. He also set career highs in goals, assists and points in 2006 while finishing the season with a +7 rating, extending his career +/- to +29.
Joining Krantz are a talented trio of veterans, including juniors Jared Seminoff and Taylor Davenport and sophomore Justin Krueger. Seminoff is back after missing eight games last year due to mononucleosis. Despite the missed playing time, Seminoff recorded 14 assists, most by any defenseman on the team. Kruger played in all 31 games in 2006 and Davenport played in 27 contests.
“The older guys Semi, Davy, have come back … and they look great,” Krantz said. “They are in the best shape of their lives and they are making smart decisions.”
Rounding out the defensive unit are three freshmen, all eager to vie for playing time. Mike Devin, Jacob Johnston and Jordan Berk are all looking to make their mark on Cornell’s blue line.
“With the new guys stepping in, they have really done a good job right off the bat,” Seminoff said. “I think they fit in well. They play physical, and they have gelled with us right away.”
In Cornell’s first regular-season game of the season, a 4-1 loss to RIT last Saturday night, both Krantz and Devin recorded assists on the Red’s only tally of the night.