As the season progresses, the Red forwards continue to improve under the leadership of head coach Mike Schafer ’86 and execute in key situations.
Although the No. 10 Red is only averaging 2.3 goals per game this season, Cornell’s forwards have exhibited experience and consistency in getting the puck in the net. The Red (3-2-1, 1-2-1 ECAC) has yet to be held scoreless and remains undefeated (3-0-1) in games in which the team has only allowed three goals or fewer.
“It’s pretty well known that we are a defensive team,” said junior forward Dustin Mowrey. “We have a lot of systems as far as defense goes, and when we play our systems we’re probably one of the best teams in the country when everyone buys in.”
For Mowrey and the other veteran Red forwards, experience has been invaluable.
“I’ve definitely learned a lot,” Mowrey said. “The systems that coach [Schafer] plays [are] definitely not something you pick up your first couple of weeks here. You kind of grow — you learn from guys. I [knew] guys my fresh year from Patrick Kennedy to Sean Collins … All the older guys just really bring you on board and really help you out day-to-day in practice. It’s been a great experience so far …”
Schafer echoed Mowrey’s assessment of the team and the way that it works.
“I’ve always believed it’s the improvement within the team [that makes room to grow] from the guys returning,” he said. “We saw that with a guy like Dustin Mowrey last year who emerged as a great player.”
Mowrey scored eight goals in his sophomore season — including four during the postseason and the game winner in the ECAC quarterfinal against Dartmouth. This season he has already knocked in a goal and grabbed an assist.
This season, execution in critical situations has characterized the offense. Nine of the Red’s 14 goals have come during the third period and despite ranking near the bottom of the ECAC in shots on goal, the Red has converted more than 10 percent of shot opportunities into scores — making them the sixth best team in the conference. The Red also boasts a 21.9 percent power play conversion.
The experience of the Red forwards has helped the Red to excel in clutch situations. Despite the hard work necessary to form a disciplined playing style, for players such as junior forward Armand de Swardt time with the Red has gone by quickly.
“It’s definitely weird — I feel like I just got here yesterday,” de Swardt recollected. “I know the first day I came I saw Mowrey — it was kind of like, ‘wow I’m going to be here for four years’ but it really flies by and I can’t believe I’m already in my junior year.”
Although Mowrey and de Swardt’s Cornell careers have paseed the half-way mark, the Red has brought in a talented group of freshman who will pick up where the veterans are leaving off. Freshman forwards Christian Hilbrich, John Knisley and Teemu Tiitinen have already accounted for a combined seven in-game appearances.
“You have a group of three forwards that are older, that have been involved in of junior hockey and have had success,” noted coach Schafer. “They come in as a lot more mature group of forwards than we’ve had in awhile.”
Original Author: Chris Mills