Read all about the upcoming Cornell men’s hockey season in The Sun’s 2018-19 Men’s Hockey Preview Supplement.
Cornell scored enough to get by in 2017-18, but there’s no doubt in made it to the NCAA Tournament on the strength of its defense. This season, the Red is confident in can succeed again with its scoring-by-committee offensive approach without its top three goal-scorers from a season ago.
Trevor Yates ’18, Alex Rauter ’18 and Anthony Angello ’19 — who departed after his junior season to join the Pittsburgh Penguins organization — combined for 37 of Cornell’s 102 total goals last season. The Red has nine returning players who scored four or more goals but none who recorded double-digit tallies. Senior captain Mitch Vanderlaan leads returners with seven 2017-18 goals.
“Guys get replaced all the time. You graduate and a new guy takes your number and moves on,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “Goal scoring [has to] come from somewhere. We think it will.”
“Guys are going to have to step up [and] find a way to contribute a little more offensively,” Vanderlaan said. “But we’re pretty deep so I don’t think that’s something we’re too concerned with.”
Schafer said there’s no one player primed for a breakout year in the scoring department and that his defensemen and freshmen need to chip in along with players who had a small handful of goals like sophomore Cam Donaldson, who was hurt for multiple stretches last season, and classmate Morgan Barron, who “went cold after a while.” Five of Cornell’s second-year forwards scored two or more goals as freshmen, but none scored more than five (Barron and Kyle Betts).
“Everybody can just pick pieces and you never know who’s going to break out [and] score that 13, 14, 15 goals in a season,” Schafer said. “You have no idea which freshman is going to score. … I wish I could say there’s one guy I think’s going to have a breakout year, I just don’t see that. It’s going to happen for someone, but to pick one guy would be throwing darts.”
“[Lately] it’s just been everybody chipping in and we haven’t had to rely on one player, one scorer to produce for us,” added junior forward Jeff Malott, who had six goals last season. “It’ll be nice to see those guys who produced a small amount of goals last year step up and pick up more responsibility offensively.”
Returning forwards include sophomores Donaldson, Barron, Betts, Brenden Locke and Tristan Mullin; juniors Malott, Noah Bauld and Connor Murphy (Murphy played just one game last year and Bauld was a regular late-season healthy scratch); and seniors Vanderlaan and Beau Starrett. Five new freshmen join the mix: Max Andreev, Zach Bramwell, Michael Regush, Chase Brakel and Liam Motley.
Betts, Locke and Starrett are three solid centers, and Regush and Andreev saw time at center during exhibition contests and figure to play that position during the season. If Schafer regularly plays all nine of his forwards who played consistently last year, it opens up three slots for five newbies — Andreev, Regush, Bramwell, Brakel and Motley — to fill.
Power-play scoring for the Red won’t mirror last year’s production. Of the Red’s 22 man-advantage scores last season, 11 don’t return. Of the 11 that do, a combined eight come from defensemen Yanni Kaldis and Alec McCrea, leaving plenty of opportunity — and need — for power-play goal scorers to step up: returning forwards combined for just two power-play goals last year for a team whose 17.1 percent mark on the power play was 40th in the country (Cornell’s 83.2 percent penalty kill was 13th-best).