April 25, 2010

Game Over

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Saying goodbye properly is a challenge. Our goal for this final column is to do so somewhere in between former Sun Sports Editor Cory Bennett’s 6,000 word magnum opus farewell and the hockey team’s Lynah salute following its victory over Harvard in the playoffs last month.  Through the final game of the season, we easily devoted more time to Cornell hockey than to anything academically related. Now, as we bid farewell to Cornell hockey as undergraduates, we choose to both look ahead to next season and reflect on four years at Lynah. Cornell’s hopes for a repeat ECAC championship will be raised by what appears to be a strong recruiting class. The Big Red’s most significant recruit is Ithaca native Andy Iles, who beat the Big Red last October when he was playing for the U.S. Under-18 Team. We expect Iles to compete for the starting job with current sophomore Mike Garman, who posted a 21-save mini shutout during relief efforts at Princeton in February. Unfortunately, Cornell’s offense takes a big hit with the loss of Colin Greening and Blake Gallagher, who combined for 33 of the team’s 107 goals this season. Should Riley Nash depart as well, the Big Red will lose 42 percent of its total offense and three 100-point career scorers. That hurts more than a kick to the groin. To make up for the lost offense, Cornell is bringing in four talented forwards. Alberta native Rodger Craig is a 6-5 beast who will fit in well with the Cornell system; Craig told a Canadian newspaper, “I like to hit, go in the corners and get the puck out. I used to score when I was a little kid, but ever since I was a Peewee, I’ve been a grinder.” It would appear that he literally walked out of Coach Mike Schafer’s dreams. Craig will be joined by fellow 6-5 forward Armand de Swardt, a South Africa native who grew up in Texas. De Swardt, whom Schafer called a “tremendous talent,” appears to be the complete package, with size, good hands and an ability to finish around the net. Forward Dustin Mowrey, a British Columbia native, is a smaller player at 5-9, but has developed into a goal scorer at the junior level. Finally, Ithaca native Kevin Cole won the fastest skater competition at last year’s AHL junior skills challenge and should be an exciting addition to Cornell’s offense. Current sophomore and junior forwards must kick their game into a higher gear. We were impressed with Tyler Roeszler’s second half of the season, yet players like Locke Jillson, Patrick Kennedy and Joe Devin displayed moments of consistent contributions alongside lengthy stretches of absence on the score sheet. At some point the supporting cast must take over. These players will either put the puck in the next season or Cornell will lose a lot of games 1-0 and 2-1. On the defensive side, look for Quebec native Mathieu Brisson to start most nights and earn a spot on the power play. He’ll be joined on the blue line by Kirill Gotovets, a mobile defenseman from Belarus who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning last year. With strong defenders like Nick D’Agostino and Braden Birch returning, expect Cornell’s defense to remain strong. As always, Coach Schafer will put another competitive product on the ice. Cornell will not be favored to win the ECAC next season, but it will again have the talent to beat any team in the country on any given night. Now, however, we turn our attention to the customary thank you notes. First, and most importantly, to our parents. Without you, neither of us would have discovered or developed such a devout appreciation for the sport or Cornell’s team. Thank you for your unwavering love and support.  To Sun Sports Editors Cory Bennett, Keenan Weatherford and Alex Kuczynski-Brown for allowing us to write whatever we wanted, however much we wanted and whenever we wanted. Your support was always greatly appreciated. To Ari Baum ’07 and Doug Weinberg ’08 for showing us what true Cornell hockey fandom entailed. To Gene Nighman, Anita Brenner and Sue Detzer over at Athletics, for patiently listening to our endless critiques and for allowing us to help develop new polices. The new line process is much better now. To the Cornell Hockey Association, including Ned and Annie Dykes, Mark Anbinder, Adriano Manocchia and Kevin Cowan for making road trips so enjoyable.  To Jim Hyla for the candy at every road game.  Lawyers can’t stop it everywhere. To you, our readers (yes, all three of you), for giving us a reason to write. We especially thank BigRedWhat, the only person to leave us an online comment all season. Finally, to the Cornell hockey community at-large. Everyone plays a part in creating the Lynah mystique and we hope the student fan base continues to be the difference-maker at both home and away games. We hope you’re there for puck drop in exactly six months.

Original Author: Elie Bilmes