2002-03 Cortland Season Preview

On The Right Path

The 2001-2 season was a turnaround for Cortland, which finished tied for third place at 7-5-2 and sported an overall record of 14-11-4. The Red Dragons will be looking to continue on that road, as second year coach Tom Cranfield continues to put his mark on the team.

“We’ll need to step up from what we did a year ago to be competitive again,” Cranfield said.

As with most teams in the SUNYAC, leading the charge will be the goaltender, John Larnerd, who is already the school’s saves leader.

Afterwards, Cortland will be looking at five players to be the key to putting the puck in the net.

Matt Donskov (17-20-37), the second-leading scorer on the team last year and the national leader in power-play goals with 12, should be the leader this year. Tim Earl, who got seven goals and four assists in his first year, will be looked upon to step up his game.

Nate Gagnon, a transfer from Maine, put up some solid numbers last year (12-19-31). Dave Ambuhl, another double-digit goal-scorer, and Kevin Watters are two sophomores the team will depend on.

Advantage … Power Play

Needless to say, with Donskov’s dozen power-play goals, the Red Dragons led the league with the man advantage at 24.1% without letting up a league shorthanded goal. Interestingly, they also took the most penalties. However, with the power play and shorthanded goals combined, they still end up on the plus side of the ledger with special teams.

Now, just imagine if they cut their penalty time…

Lots To Choose From

Cortland has a large roster this year, due to a number of walkons straight from high school. Cranfield doesn’t expect them to make an immediate impact, looking for some of them to make contributions in the future. But he is expecting a quicker return on his recruits.

One player to pay attention to is forward Jason Wilson, who has stepped right into the lineup. He and his fellow newcomers will have to act fast as Cortland jumps into the SUNYAC schedule after competing in the SUNYAC Challenge.

That doesn’t worry Cranfield. “We think we can play with just about anybody in the SUNYAC,” he said. “We feel we can compete with anybody on any given night.”

In order for the Red Dragons to stay on the right path, they will need to do that right away.