Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly spelled the name of Andy Iles, the former Cornell goalie.

Additionally, a previous version of this story incorrectly stated that this is the first year without Cornell wrestler Kyle Dake. It is the second.


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.

Why I shop downtown — Carmen

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1 — Can Cornell Basketball live up to early success?

For fans who have followed this team since their dynasty of the late 2000s, it might seem odd to call a 6-7 start to the season a success story.

But when you consider the fact that this team won just two games in all of the 2013-2014 season and then lost their leading scorer Nolan Cressler to Vanderbilt, this season has been a pleasant surprise.

Largely spurred by the return of Shonn Miller (injury) and Galal Cancer (personal) who each missed all of last season, the Big Red have played even better than their record shows, as they have dropped a few games such as a 72-71 thriller versus Penn State that they should have won. The team has yet to begin their Ivy League schedule, but when they do against Columbia on January 17th at Newman Arena, we’ll know a lot more about their chances of making a run within the conference.

2 — Will Men’s Ice Hockey overcome first half woes?

Big Red Hockey fans are spoiled every year as we’ve all come to expect the team to yield dominant weekend after dominant weekend, so fans were a little bit shocked when the team posted a 1-4-1 record through the first three weekends of regular season play.

Sure they have gone 4-2-1 since then, but their scoring woes have been well documented in the early portions of this season.

Most thought that the Big Red would struggle more with their goalie situation in the absence of Ithaca native Andy Iles in the net, but strong play from both sophomore Mitch Gillam and freshman Hayden Stewart has kept this team amongst the best in save percentage in college hockey.

With plenty of games left in ECAC play, there’s still plenty of time for this team to find a rhythm and make a deep run into the playoffs. Hopefully come March, this season will be remembered for more than the Lynah Faithful’s failure to lift a giant bear over the glass at Lynah Rink.

 3 — Is this the year for Big Red Women’s Ice Hockey?

Although their overall record sits at 6-6-1 after a bit of a slow start, the team has posted great numbers within the ECAC where they sit at 5-2.

In recent years, this team has blown through their early season non-conference opponents but that has not been the case this year. Some on the team believe that these early challenges may actually help the team perform better down the stretch and into the playoffs, where over the past few years they have been eliminated relatively early despite dominating the regular season.

With Olympic Gold medalist Brianne Jenner back in the fold this season joining forces with fellow senior captain Jillian Saulnier and junior Emily Fulton the team has a nice core of veteran leadership on the ice that should take them far.

Additionally, they have gotten valued contributions from their freshman class, most notably Erin O’Connor who is 4th on the team in overall points. With a roster that is stacked with talent from top to bottom, look for big things from this team in 2015 and beyond.

4 – Will Baseball’s 2015 Senior Class Win a 2nd Ivy League Championship?

Three years ago the graduating class of 2015 provided the spark to a Big Red team with loads of talent from its upperclassmen that ultimately led them to their first Ivy League Championship and second NCAA Regional appearance in over 100 years of existence.

Now as seniors, can they provide the leadership necessary to lead this team back to the promise land of post-season baseball?

There are no guarantees in Ivy League baseball, with a strangely configured schedule relative to the rest of the country where any weekend of conference play can completely derail an entire season.

There will be challenges after losing some key components to the starting lineup with SS Tom D’Alessandro and RF Chris Cruz both graduating and starting pitcher Brent Jones to the MLB draft. However, the rotation should be this teams strong point and good pitching could take this team very far within the Ivy League in 2015.

5 — Which Big Red wrestlers will shine bright in the 2nd season Post Kyle Dake?

Coach Koll’s squad is ready to hit the mats as one of the top teams in the nation coming into 2015.

If December’s “Grapple at the Garden” event is any indication of the success that the Big Red are capable of having, they will be a force to be reckoned with this winter. After a slow start against three of the nation’s number ones and All Americans in the lower weight classes from Edinboro, Cornell’s wrestlers rose to the occasion at the “World’s Most Famous Arena” and opened many eyeballs with strong performances against Edinboro and Northern Iowa.∂

Key members returning from last year’s team notched particularly notable victories, including Dylan Palacio, Gabe Dean, Nick Arujau, and Nahshon Garrett (an All-American who was named the event’s Most Outstanding Wrestler at the college level).

There are no weak spots on the roster, and barring serious injuries, Cornell is the odds-on favorite in the Ivy League and will have several grapplers aiming to become national champions at season’s end.


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.