February 14, 2008

Davenport Discusses Defense

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Junior Taylor Davenport may be a lot of things — a defenseman on the men’s hockey team, someone who has recorded a positive +/- in every year of his college career and a charitable person off the ice. But there is one thing he is definitely not — Cornell junior goalie Troy Davenport’s brother.
“Everyone is always ‘are you guys brothers? Are you guys brothers?’ ‘No, no,’” Davenport said. “They always ask how many brothers we have on the team, and they always count Troy and myself, so I have to correct them all the time. … One time, I was talking to my parents after a game. I don’t know where we were playing but they were listening to a game … it was the other team’s announcer. He was going on about how Troy and Taylor were brothers. My parents called me after and were like ‘what’s going on?’”
While that announcer created a nonexistent familial relationship, Taylor Davenport initially became a hockey fan after his actual family took him to a game involving a now-nonexistent hockey team. The Okotoks, Alb., native went to a Winnipeg Jets home contest when he was young, and was immediately hooked by the game. Inspired by then-Jets players Teemu Selanne and Mike Eagles and undeterred by Winnipeg’s subsequent move to Phoenix, Davenport knew he wanted to play hockey.[img_assist|nid=27772|title=Collapsing under pressure|desc=Cornell’s defense has held opposing teams to 2.22 goals per game this season while the Red averages 2.57.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“I remember driving back with my parents and I was daydreaming about doing backflips over people,” he said. “I was five years old. I got excited about it, and that’s when I started playing.”
Although Davenport is now a defenseman, he started out playing at center.
“I don’t know when I made the transition or exactly why,” Davenport said. “I think one of my coaches needed a defenseman one day so I went back there one day, and that was pretty much it, and I stuck with it.”
After moving to defense full-time, Davenport caught the eye of the Cornell coaching staff. The allure of an Ivy League school and its renowned hockey program enticed him to come play for the Red. Subsequently, though, he had to modify his style of play.
“When I first came here, I wasn’t the most defensive-thinking defenseman,” Davenport said. “I was a lot more all over the map. Since I’ve been here, they have kind of focused me down into a defensive mindset.”
At Cornell, Davenport has been in and out of the lineup, mostly due to injury. As a freshman, he was only able to play in 10 games because of injury, and he recorded two assists. Last year, though, he was an integral part of the defense, seeing action in 27 games and notching two goals, two assists and a +4 rating. He even scored the game-winning goal against Union on Dec. 2, 2006.
This season, Davenport once again has had to struggle through injuries but has so far played in 14 games and recorded two assists.
“It’s never easy, but all you can do is keep working hard, and when you do get a chance to get back in, you got to do your best to play your role and do what you have to do,” Davenport said.
He said that this season, he believes the defense is beginning to peak as a unit.
“A lot of guys have stepped up and taken it to the next level,” Davenport said. “I think that we have to be a little more consistent in the way we play as pairings, as individuals. That has shown throughout the year. When we do come to play, and everyone plays their game and plays well together, we can really control the game and the pace of the game.”
In addition to his prowess on the blue line, Davenport is active in the community off the ice. The junior is a big brother volunteer with the Ithaca Youth Bureau. In accordance with the group, he has planned some events involving the team. In that way, he does act as a brother – although not to Troy Davenport.