February 12, 2009

Barlow Keeps It Ice Cold

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When Evan Barlow scored with 2:08 remaining in overtime Friday night to lead the men’s hockey team past Quinnipiac, 2-1, it was just the latest in a string of heroics from the senior forward — who leads the Cornell in game-winners this season and held the team assists title until recently.
In addition to cheers, however, the Strathmore, Alb., native has had cause for frustration over the course of his career — the talent has always been there, but not always the discipline. This paradox was evident from the very beginning.
In the Red’s first regular season game during the 2005-06 season, against Michigan State, the freshman Barlow got his first Cornell point from an assist on goal by line-mate Cam Abbot ‘06. The Red won, 4-2.
In that same game, however, Barlow was called for a five minute major for hitting from behind and misconduct.
This season, Barlow has been reliable — with 14 points of three goals and 11 assists, he is one of six students to have played in all 23 games this season on the Red’s top line with sophomore Riley Nash and junior co-captain Colin Greening. Barlow is also one of the most experienced players for the Red — only five other players on the roster have played in over 100 games at Cornell.[img_assist|nid=35032|title=Keeping cool|desc=Senior Evan Barlow has shown versatility and composure in tough situations this season.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Those 100 plus games, however, have not all been smooth sailing. Known for the energy he brings to the ice, that same energy has gotten him into trouble. In the 2006-07 season, he was second on the team in penalty minutes, with 42.
This year, down to 18 minutes in the box off of nine penalties, Barlow seems to be taking a more Zen approach.
“He’s been a lot more focused mentally this year,” said head coach Mike Schafer ‘86. “There’ve been times in the past when he’s gotten distracted throughout the course of the game and ended up hurting himself and the team.”
“But this year,” Schafer added, “even when’s he’s been upset or things haven’t gone his way, [he has been] able to maintain his focus during games and contribute.”
Barlow’s 2008-09 incarnation combines this newfound calm with his usual hustle — a more controlled sparkplug.
In the Red’s 4-1 victory at Union a few weeks ago, Barlow did just that as he made waves on both offense and defense. Junior Cornell netminder Ben Scrivens was on the bench due to a delayed penalty call, and sophomore Riley Nash attempted to pass the puck back in the neutral zone to a teammate. But the puck kept going and would have slipped into the Cornell goal if Barlow hadn’t raced back to redirect the puck, even though he slipped twice trying to get there.
A minute and a half before scoring on a Cornell man advantage, Barlow’s desperate dive to save the Red from an own goal made it onto ESPN’s SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays of the Night.
“With each year, it’s a maturing process,” Barlow said. “It’s getting to know what you can and cannot do on the ice, what you can say to officials. I think that there’s a time and a place for a pest on the ice, and in the past I’ve taken on more of that role. But I think that’s changed a little bit. I can slip back into that [pest role] quite often, but [now] I try to focus more on playing the game.”
A scoring-minded player, Barlow has eventually carved out his own niche in head coach Schafer’s defensive minded program. The role that Barlow fills for the Red has changed since his rookie days.
“When I came in, I was probably seen as more of a goal-scorer,” Barlow said, “but that role changed significantly. I got put into a kind of penalty kill/ defensive role, kind of rounded up my game a bit, defensively as well as offensively.”
Junior defenseman Brendon Nash, also a teammate of Barlow’s back on their Salmon Arm Silverbacks (BCHL) junior team, has also noticed the progression in Barlow’s game.
“I think he has become a more responsible player,” Nash said. “In juniors, he was definitely a high scorer, but now he can play both ends of the ice and he’s picked up his game all over the place.”
Schafer pointed out that Barlow has performed well for the Red in different situations — whether it’s power play, penalty kill or regular 5-on-5.
Adaptability, however, should be second nature to Barlow by now.
“[I started] when I was about three,” Barlow said. “I started on defense and switched over about [when I was playing] Pee Wee, that’s about 12 years old, and from there I was a centerman and then had to transition to wing.”
“So I’ve played everything but goalie, and one day I’ll try to throw on the pads and see where that takes me.”