Editor’s Note: This story was written by and republished with the permission of the Big Red Sports Network, which provides excellent Cornell sports coverage throughout the year for alumni, parents, students and fans everywhere.
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Ithaca, N.Y. — They’re back.
A potent senior class lead by the familiar names of McCarron, Lowry, Bardreau, Ryan, MacDonald, and Dias returns to action this Friday night, beginning its final campaign to bring glory to Lynah Rink. This crew has accomplished quite a bit over the past three years, but it enters the 2014-2015 season with a stomach full of hunger and a mind focused on its legacy.
Cornell Men’s Ice Hockey faces a number of challenges this season. Coming off a season that saw them finish just shy of an NCAA tournament berth, the Red loses some of its most dynamic talents, with the graduations of Dustin Mowrey, Kirill Gotovets, and Andy Iles, and a different kind of graduation of Brian Ferlin, who signed with the Boston Bruins following last season.
The Red will play a two-game set against Nebraska-Omaha: one on Friday night and the next on Saturday.
Senior captain John McCarron views this weekend as the beginning of his last chance to leave his mark on Cornell hockey history.
“This is my last chance. It’s our class’s last chance to leave a legacy here at Cornell. In my eyes, we haven’t really done much. We haven’t won an ECAC championship, we haven’t been to the Frozen Four, won a national championship. So it’s our last kick at the can to finally leave our names in the record books here.”
McCarron will lead a team full of established seniors, a rising group of juniors and sophomores, and a talented class of freshman, ready to contribute from day one.
John McCarron, F, #14
The 6-2, 230-lb. behemoth will lead the Red with his power and speed. McCarron has proven to be an especially strong facilitator, racking up 42 assists over his first three years at Cornell.
Joakim Ryan, D, #5
Ryan, an assistant captain, will look to build off an outstanding junior year, leading the defense and posing a lethal threat from the blue line.
Cole Bardreau, F, #22
The native of Fairport, NY returns as an assistant captain. Bardreau was a successful center on the front line for the Red last season, and, when healthy, is among the most talented forwards in the league.
Joel Lowry, F, #28
Lowry’s combination of speed and quick wrists would make him a strong bet to the lead the team in scoring this season, at least partially replacing the production the team loses with the departures of Brian Ferlin and Dustin Mowrey.
Madison Dias, F, #10
Speed and establishing possession in the offensive zone are two of Dias’s strengths, and he’s shown the ability to facilitate the offense this preseason.
Jacob MacDonald, D, #23
MacDonald was one of the most improved players on last year’s team, becoming more of an offensive threat down the stretch, just about paralleling Ryan as a threat from the blue line.
John Knisley, F, #10
Knisley will look to establish himself as a presence on the second and third lines. Head Coach Mike Schafer described Knisley’s play this summer as “phenomenal,” which could predict a strong junior campaign.
Christian Hillbrich, F, #9
The long-limbed Hillbrich is an imposing figure at 6-7, 220, but his game is defined by more than just physicality. He is a threat near the net and on the forecheck, and will look to build off a sophomore season that saw him score nine goals.
Reece Willcox, D, #3
Despite being a bit banged up during the pre-season, Willcox will re-join Ryan to form Cornell’s strongest defensive pair. The Philadelphia Flyers draftee brings poise to the ice, rarely making mistakes.
Teemu Tiitinen, F, #19
Tiitinen brings speed and quickness to the table, and he will vie for more ice time during his junior season.
Patrick McCarron, D, #27
The younger McCarron, unrelated to John, was a key part of Cornell’s defense last season, and has shown the ability to aggressively bring pucks to the net. He will again be a staple of this team.
Gavin Stoick, F, #8
Stoick returns to Cornell as a forward this season, having successfully made the transition from defense as a member of the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL last season. The physical Stoick racked up five goals and five assists in 46 games for Green Bay.
Matt Buckles, F, #16
Coming to Cornell immediately after his high school years, Buckles showed flashes of excellence last season, and he will look to build on his four-goal freshman campaign.
Jeff Kubiak, F, #26
Kubiak will take plenty of faceoffs as a sophomore for the Red this season, facilitating the offense and helping the Red put pucks on net.
Mitch Gillam, G, #32
It may be difficult for Gillam to top this moment, but the agile Ontario native will form half of the Red’s goaltender duo to start the season. Coach Schafer has said that no goaltender will be the “number one” until someone has distinguished himself.
Eric Sade, D, #2
Sade missed the preseason due to injury, but Coach Schafer says that he will be in the mix for ice time this season as the Red figure out what exactly the back end of their defense looks like.
Holden Anderson, D, #6
After impressing the coaching staff in an exhibition against the Russian Red Stars, Anderson saw ice time in his first official game at home against Clarkson last season. This year, he will compete for time on the second or third defensive pair.
Ryan Coon, G, #30
Coon is not in the mix for a starting goaltender spot, but an injury or poor performance could, in theory, vault Coon into the second position.
Jake Weidner, F, #7
Weidner saw significant time as a freshman, and proved to be an offensive threat, scoring one goal and assisting six others.
Eric Freshi, F, #11
“Aggressiveness” might be the best word to describe Freschi’s style of play. The Minnesota native lead the Red in penalty minutes (16) last season, and will look to harness his aggressiveness without winding up in the penalty box as often as a sophomore.
Hayden Stewart, G, #31
Stewart represents the more stereotypical profile of college and professional goaltenders. At 6-3, Stewart has the size and athleticism to contribute for the Big Red immediately, and he will begin the season splitting time with Mitch Gillam.
Jared Fiegl, F, #18
A seventh round pick of the Arizona Coyotes, Fiegl could instantly become one of the Red’s strongest offensive contributors. He showed the ability to put pucks on net and scoop up rebounds this preseason, and could help to soften the blow from the departures of Brian Ferlin and Dustin Mowrey.
Dwyer Tschantz, F, #21
Standing at a legitimate 6-5, 220, Tschantz is an imposing figure that should continue to develop physically. His upside is obvious, and it lead the St. Louis Blues to select him in the seventh round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
Dan Wedman, D, #20
Wedman is another imposing figure, checking in at 6-5, 206. He should compete for ice time in the third defensive pair.
Ryan Bliss, D, #24
A graduate of the US National Development team, Bliss has had a strong preseason and will compete for consistent ice time right off the bat.
Trevor Yates, D, #15
Yates joins the Big Red after an illustrious career at Deerfield Academy. Injury prevented Yates from lacing up for the preseason, but the Quebec native could see plenty of ice time this season, with some projecting him to become a potent scoring threat from the blue line.
Alex Rauter, F, #4
Rauter has immediately fit right in this preseason, and could develop into a strong contributor for the Red over the coming months and years.
Overall, this roster is packed with potential, and provides plenty of reason for optimism in the powerful ECAC. Coach Schafer, among others, often speaks to the incredible competition in the conference, which features defending national champion Union (#2) and a well-rounded club in Colgate (#4).
Preseason rankings don’t always mean much, however. Within the first few weeks of the season, we will know where the Big Red stand, and where they’ll need to develop throughout the course of the season.