November 11, 2010

Young Group of Forwards Leads Way on Men’s Hockey Offense

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The men’s hockey team’s offense has always stuck to its goal: to get past the opposing team’s defense and create chances to score. This year, Cornell’s forwards aim to complete this goal while making the offensive play as aggressive and physical as possible.

“To get the puck you’ve got to have transitions and you have to systemize –– break it out against different types of forechecks,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86.

Schafer has emphasized more physical play this season to show other teams that the Red is still a challenger going into this 2010-11 season. Powerful forechecks can benefit Cornell in more than one way. Physical play not only slows down the opponent, but it also creates more puck possession for the team, thereby opening up further scoring chances.

This year, the Red is lacking four of its strong forwards from last year, but that doesn’t mean it is lacking in ability. Cornell returns eight juniors and seniors as forwards, and each of these veteran players have tallied at least one point in just four games on the young season. This core group of players has already proved a huge part in leading the team to its first win last weekend, but the talent does not end with them.

Many of the younger forwards have also proved their worth over the past two weekends. Most notably, freshman Dustin Mowrey sits atop Cornell’s ranks in terms of points. Mowrey has scored three goals so far and currently sits at a 0.75 goal average on the young season. Sophomore Greg Miller also chimes in with three points (one goal, two assists), having had a good summer that has made him both quicker and more confident. At 5-11, the Canadian skater’s three points provide an early indication that he will surpass the five points he collected over freshman year.

Sophomore John Esposito holds Miller’s three-point record as well, while classmate Vince Mihalek was credited with an assist in just two games played. Freshman Rodger Craig joins the point-gathering ranks, as the forward notched both a goal and assist while boasting a 25 percent shot-to-goal conversion.

“I think we’ve got a lot of depth and a lot of balance throughout our [offensive] lineup, and that’s going to be the way it’s going to have to work –– have scoring by committee and just expect everyone to chip in,” said junior forward Jordan Kary. “It’s kind of nice not knowing who’s going to be able to step up on any given night.”

Kary, who tallied both a goal and assist in the winning contest against Clarkson, echoes that the next step is to make the offense more physical.

“That’s obviously a key. When we have our most success, we’re playing physical and right on the forecheck and everyone’s finishing their checks … it’s definitely a bit of a focus for our team,” Kary said.

The Red’s team offense is currently tied for 17th in the nation with Boston University –– the current No. 1 overall team. The forwards hope that with a more physical emphasis, they can not only maintain but also surpass their current ranking, and prove to be a major threat in the Division I hockey league.

Original Author: Reena Gilani