January 31, 2008

M. Icers’ Michael Kennedy Enjoys Breakout Year

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In the men’s hockey team’s 4-1 victory over Brown last Friday, junior forward Michael Kennedy’s 15th career goal extended the Cornell lead to 2-0 in the first period. That score is just one in a long line of recent success for the third-year forward out of Dorchester, Ont.
“Mike’s done a tremendous job,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “I’m not a big statistics guys, [but] I know he continues to score.”
Statistically, this has been Kennedy’s breakout year. He has tallied 13 points in 19 games this season, good for fourth on the team. His seven goals — already more than last season’s total of five with ten regular season games left to play — put Kennedy in a three-way tie for first with senior co-captain Topher Scott and freshman Riley Nash.
Kennedy’s scoring streak started after Schafer shook up the lines during Winter Break, putting Kennedy with senior co-captains Scott and Raymond Sawada. Beginning with the first two-goal game of the forward’s career, Jan. 4 against Niagara, Kennedy has notched six goals in the past nine games after that line shuffling, though not without a price.
“It’s funny. We’ve not had Mike Kennedy’s line and Riley Nash’s line go at the same night,” Schafer said. “And it would be really nice to see that happen. I thought that Mike’s line was very good on Friday night. They were just average on Saturday. So we’re still looking for the consistency from those guys from that standpoint.”[img_assist|nid=27118|title=Hands off|desc=The Red have relied on a line of junior Michael Kennedy and senior co-captains Topher Scott and Raymond Sawada to provide leadership this season.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Though the various lines have had some difficulty collaborating in the same game for a full team effort, Kennedy and his new linemates have had almost no trouble with their teamwork with each other.
“It’s just kind of came naturally,” Kennedy said. “Obviously Topher and Ray are seniors, so they’ve been here for four years. I’ve been here for three, so we all have some experience under our belt. We have pretty good chemistry off the ice too, which I think helps translate on the ice. … Anytime you switch, you play with different players, it takes a little while [to adjust], but I think that maybe this combination is one of the few that went a bit faster, gelled a bit faster. We were pretty lucky.”
It may have taken a few years as teammates and a few days on the ice together this year for the three forwards to mesh as a line, but Kennedy has had a lifetime to get to know another member of the team. His younger brother, freshman forward Patrick Kennedy, joined the Red for the 2007-08 season.
This is the first time the brothers are competing on the same team. Playing junior hockey with the St. Thomas Stars, the brothers never got a chance to compete together because of a two-year age gap.
“It’s been awesome [playing with Patrick in college],” Michael Kennedy said. “We have a really close relationship off the ice. The summers, we spend a lot of time together, and I think he was a bit more comfortable coming in here because he obviously knew what to expect with me being here for two years. We’ve had a couple classes together and stuff like that, so [he’s] like another teammate.”
Teammates, not any change in preparation or attitude, are the secret to Kennedy’s success, according to the high-scorer.
“I think I’m playing pretty good hockey right now, but that goes to the credit of the team around us,” he said. “We have a very skilled team this year, and when you’re playing with skilled guys, you’re going to get opportunities to score and opportunities to create offense. It’s just playing your game and trusting yourself and letting things come on the ice and not trying to force the issue.”