Cornell has questions to answer to again earn first-round bye

The most consistently successful team in ECAC Hockey finished the regular season in the top four for the 11th consecutive time, and despite losing top-flight talent year in and year out, Cornell played in the league’s final four for the fourth year in a row.

Coach Mike Schafer’s boys had a tough go of it in the 2010 portion of the schedule — 4-8-1 as of New Year’s Day — but they regrouped and hit 2011 running. First came a three-game winning streak to warm up to the idea, followed shortly thereafter by a six-game unbeaten run to place them firmly in contention for the first-round bye.

Twins Mike and Joe Devin were regular producers in their day, but their graduation will require some new scoring threats … especially to replace Joe’s 17-goal, 27-point senior campaign. Classmate Tyler Roeszler finished second on the team to Joe Devin in goal-scoring (12), and between that trio, the Big Red loses 35 of its 86 goals from last season.

“Obviously [junior] Greg Miller coming back, he was part of that group last year that was leading the offense, so we’re going to lean very heavily on him,” said assistant coach Ben Syer. “A couple guys here, the likes of Sean Collins, who’s a senior now, we’re looking to have him take more of an offensive role than he has in previous years. And with our freshmen group, we have a few guys who have shown they can score at the junior level, whether it be Brian Ferlin or Joel Lowry, just to name a couple. They’ll certainly be given an opportunity to show what they can do offensively right out of the gate.”

Syer continued on the aforementioned rookies: “Ferlin was invited to the U.S. Junior tryout. He obviously had a great year there in Indianapolis, he would be the first guy to come to mind” as a game-ready rookie, he said. “Joel Lowry was obviously a very offensive player and a very good player with Victoria out in British Columbia. I would say that those two guys up front [can be immediate contributors].”

Goaltender Mike Garman graduated after only three years and signed with the ECHL’s Colorado Eagles. That leaves sophomore Andy Iles as the obvious heir to the throne, after the duo split time in net last year. Junior Omar Kanji appears to be the perennial third-stringer, so long as rookie Vincenzo Marozzi justifies his recruitment.

Like so many years before, this team would have the scent of a rebuilding year … if it were any team but Schafer’s; if it were anyone but Cornell.

About the Big Red

2010-11 overall record: 16-15-3

2010-11 ECAC record: 11-9-2 (fourth)

2011-12 predicted finish (coaches poll): Third

Key losses: F Joe Devin, F Mike Devin, G Mike Garman, F Tyler Roeszler

Players to watch: Junior D Nick D’Agostino, junior F Greg Miller, sophomore G Andy Iles

Impact rookie: F Brian Ferlin

Why the Big Red will finish higher than the coaches’ poll: What Devins? Devin who? Plus Iles inevitably makes like Scrivens, McKee, LeNeveu, Underhill, blah blah blah Dryden, blah blah blah …

Why the Big Red will finish lower than the coaches’ poll: The odds will finally catch up with Schafer & Co., as the goals will simply run dry.



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