November 11, 2010

Men’s Hockey Power-Play Unit Features New Cast

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A penalty by an opposing team is one of the many things that make the harsh Lynah Faithful go crazy about. And the fans have good reason, too –– traditionally, Cornell has boasted one of the most successful power plays in the country.

The power play was integral to the 2009-10 season for the Red as it proved to be the difference in games that were won by a one-goal margin. Cornell’s play with an extra skater on the ice ranked first in Division I hockey last December, when it converted on a marvelous 31.9 percent of opportunities. By the end of the long winter season, the Red remained in the top 10 nationally, with a 20.6 percent clip. Cornell’s lineup featured the sixth-best player on the power play in the nation –– Blake Gallagher ’10, with 11 power-play goals in 34 games.

As this year’s team strives to achieve that same level of success, it has a bit of a way to go to get there. Coming in at No. 38, the Red has a 15 percent power play success rate, having converted on 3-of-20 opportunities over the course of four games.

“The biggest difference –– last year to this year –– is that we didn’t have four guys returning on the power play that could really be zinging around, that could capitalize, but I’m happy with our team,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86.

As such a large part of the game, the team practices improving the power play every day at practice.

“It’s different guys playing with each other on power plays. [We’re] still trying to get a feel for their tendencies and all that, so there’s no need to press the panic button on power play,” said senior co-captain and forward Patrick Kennedy.

Indeed, over the course of the last four games and during practices, that is exactly what is going on. The right groupings are trying to be determined for the Red’s power play so that it can be brought to tops in the nation.

“It is still early and the coaches are trying to find the right combinations. That chemistry, specifically on the power play, will come with time and with practice, day-in and day-out,” agreed senior co-captain and forward Joe Devin.

As this year’s team tries to figure out what exactly the groupings will be on the power play, one sophomore in particular stands out.

Defenseman Nick D’Agostino has been put in a top shooter position on the power play and enjoys the transition to being able to distribute the puck.

“So far I’m enjoying it. Hopefully our power play can start clicking here in the next few weeks,” D’Agostino said.

Original Author: Reena Gilani