ornell men’s hockey announced Monday the group of eight student-athletes set to join the program this fall, which includes the program’s first Russia native and the first NHL draft pick born in China.
Five forwards, two defensemen and a goalie make up the class of 2022 — all of whom will hope to help bring Cornell to the promised land of Buffalo for the 2019 Frozen Four. Cornell’s breakdown of its 28 total players now sits at 15 forwards, 10 defensemen and three goalies.
Six of the eight incoming freshmen hail from Canada, with forward Max Andreev representing the first native Russian in the program’s history and defenseman Misha Song as the first NHL draft pick to have been born in China. No Americans are included in the newest group of student-athletes.
Apart from Anthony Angello ’19 signing a professional contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, every non-senior player from the 2017-18 team is listed to return for the upcoming season. The Red graduated five seniors last season, four of whom were forwards and one goalie.
“All five [incoming] forwards have a history of producing points at the junior level, and they provide a nice mixture of size and speed,” head coach Mike Schafer ’86 said in a press release. “Having graduating four forwards in addition to Anthony Angello signing an NHL contract, this group will be looked upon to contribute in different ways — just like the freshmen from last year did.”
“On defense, we have two guys that have size and can skate. They will be looking to break into a defensive corps that brings back everyone from last year,” Schafer added. “And Nate McDonald continues our tradition of strong goaltenders here. He has size and great athletic ability, and we look forward to him transitioning to college hockey.”
Below is a breakdown of the incoming class by player and position, as well as analysis of what their incoming roles may be.
#15 Max Andreev
6’, 174 pounds — Moscow, Russia — Central Illinois Flying Aces (USHL)
Andreev is the first Cornell player in history to have been born in Russia, but he enters with a few years of hockey on American soil under his belt. A left-shooting center by trade, he spent one year in Tier I juniors with the USHL’s Flying Aces and put up 43 points in 55 games there. For two years prior to that, Andreev put up consistent numbers for one season each with the New Jersey Junior Titans and New York Bobcats in Tier II and Tier III juniors, respectively.
#17 Zach Bramwell
6’1”, 176 pounds — Hamilton, Ontario — Oakville Blades (OJHL)
Bramwell comes from a family of hockey players, as his brother, Connor, is a set to join the University of Guelph this season, which Cornell will take on in its second exhibition game this year. At Oakville in the OJHL, a Junior “A” league in Canada, the Toronto-area native Bramwell dropped 41 points in his rookie season and 14 more in the playoffs. Bramwell turned enough heads to be invited to try out for Team Canada East at the World Junior A Challenge.
#23 Liam Motley
6’4”, 185 pounds — Calgary, Alberta — Whitecourt Wolverines (AJHL)
The 21-year-old forward who played his Junior “A” hockey in his home province of Alberta. Motley is the tallest member of his class, adding some height to a Cornell squad that is already on the larger side as the second tallest and 10th heaviest in 2017-18. As an alternate captain with the Wolverines, he collected 51 points in 61 games to lead his team.
#19 Michael Regush
6’, 205 pounds — Surrey, British Columbia — Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)
A big-bodied, right-shooting center, Regush was tied for the team lead in plus-minus in his first season with the Phantoms while scoring 48 points in 58 games. Regush hails from the Vancouver metro area and from the same hometown as former Cornell defenseman Reece Willcox ’16, now with the Philadelphia Flyers’ AHL affiliate.
#21 Chase Brakel
5’11”, 185 pounds — Winnipeg, Manitoba — Portage Terriers (MJHL)
Rounding out the offensive skaters, Brakel is a former Junior “A” all-star in the MJHL, having averaged more than a point per game over the last three seasons. The Manitoba native brings a resume of offensive production to a team that has built both its historical and its recent success on defensive prowess and seldom sports a point-per-game scorer.
#18 Misha Song
6’1”, 181 pounds — Beijing, China — Madison Capitols (USHL)
The defense that built the nation’s most successful statistical resume last season is now the beneficiary of perhaps the most intriguing recruit to the Cornell program and perhaps in all of college hockey. Song, a New York Islanders draft pick, is the first-ever Chinese-born player to be drafted into the NHL. Song has spent 100 games in Tier I juniors and also served as the captain for the Chinese team at the IIHF World U18 Division 2B Championships in 2015.
“Being the first Chinese player [drafted] is a lot of pressure from the people back home,” Song told the media after being drafted. “I hope that will motivate me to become a better player and make them proud.”
#4 Joe Leahy
6’3”, 201 pounds — Waterloo, Ontario — Salmon Arm Silverbacks (BCHL)
It’s hard to tell where Leahy and his classmate Song will fit into the very deep defensive unit that Cornell enjoys. In any event, the nephew of two members of the Hockey Hall of Fame (Bobby Bauer and David Bauer) and brother of two female collegiate hockey players, brings to the table a large frame and distinguished record, having won a pair of league championships in his time through the juniors system.
#33 Nate McDonald
6’2”, 195 pounds — North Bay, Ontario — Markham Royals (OJHL)
Barring any sort of injury to the standout rising-sophomore goaltender Matt Galajda, it’s unlikely McDonald sees very much ice time at all in his first season. The 18-year-old true freshman hails from Northern Ontario and earned some playoff experience last season in the OJHL, where he posted a 2.38 goals against average.