Cameron Pollack | Sun Photography Editor

Former captain Christian Hilbrich '16 signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.

August 21, 2016

While You Were Away: Summer 2016 Sports Recap

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It was a banner summer for Cornell athletes for alumni, current and even incoming students. Olympic showings, professional signings and new record marked the past couple of months.

Perhaps the busiest Cornell sport was men’s hockey, as the team announced the incoming class freshman class and several Cornellians got one step closer to their professional dreams.

Last year’s captain Christian Hilbrich signed a professional contract with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He joins Reece Willcox ’16, who was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers and is playing for their AHL affiliate, as the only players in their four-player class to reach the professional level so far.

Hilbrich also joins sophomore Anthony Angello a member of the Penguins organization, who was drafted in 2014. Both were in attendance to the organization’s professional development camp over the summer.

Following Hilbrich’s lead in taking a step towards the NHL was future Red defenseman Matt Cairns, who was selected in the third round (No. 84 overall) by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2016 NHL entry-level draft. Having committed to Cornell in September 2015, Cairns plans on playing for the Muskegon Lumberjacks this coming year with his sights on Ithaca in 2017.

Other alumni who are continuing their hockey careers include Andy Iles ’14 and Brian Ferlin ’15, who played three seasons in a Cornell uniform before turning pro. Iles signed with the Elmira Jackals of the East Coast Hockey League and Ferlin signed to the Boston Bruins organization.

Head coach Mike Schafer ’86 and his club also announced a five-player freshman class to begin at Cornell this season. Composed of four forwards and one defenseman, the class looks to fill the hole left by last year’s four-skater graduating class.

Joining the incoming freshmen in coming to Cornell is Ryan O’Byrne ’17, who forwent his senior year in 2007 to play for the Montreal Canadiens organization. He announced on Twitter earlier this summer that he would be returning to Cornell to finish his degree after six seasons and 128 games in the big leagues.

For the women, a commitment was made by Lindsay Browning, who announced in July her intent to play hockey in Ithaca.

Outside the hockey world, Cornellians made themselves known in lacrosse, basketball and baseball as well.

Rob Pannell ’13, who has the most points in Cornell men’s lacrosse history, now holds the record for most points in a Major League Lacrosse season with 74 points for the New York Lizards. The 26-year old is a four-time all-star and was named MLL Offensive Player of the Year this year.

Just as Pannell was wrapping up his Cornell career, Shonn Miller ’16 was rising into stardom in a Cornell uniform before transferring to the University of Connecticut. This summer, he was invited to play on the Utah Jazz’s summer league team where he appeared in five games but was ultimately not offered a professional contract.

Joining Miller in finding success after transferring schools was Brian McAfee ’16, who spent four years in Ithaca before shipping off to Duke. McAfee was selected 38th round (No. 1140 overall) by the Tampa Bay Rays organization and has made 11 appearances and sports a cool 1.88 ERA for the Princeton Rays, Tampa’s Appalachian League affiliate, a rookie-class minor league.

Now that the summer over, it is now up to Cornell’s current athletes to find success during the school year and keep the pattern of impressive showings going strong.