The Return of Big Red Hockey
Coming off a successful run to the ECAC championship last season, Cornell men’s hockey is quickly approaching the start of the 2017-18 season. With lingering confidence from the strong performance last year, the team is looking to build on its recent success and reach the same level of play it achieved last season. On Thursday’s media day, four players as well as Head Coach Michael Schafer addressed the team’s preparation for the upcoming regular season opener against Alabama-Huntsville on October 27th.
Senior forward and alternate captain Trevor Yates opened by discussing the 10 freshmen added to the Cornell roster this year, noting how the upperclassmen are helping the new players learn the team’s system. Cornell’s preseason exhibition games against University of Guelph and University of Ottawa were useful in getting the team into “hockey shape” and encouraging it to hold itself to high standards. Yates’ co-alternate captain, senior forward Jared Fiegl, expressed similar thoughts on the drive to reach the level the team reached last season. “We keep raising that bar,” Fiegl said, adding that the team is feeling stronger after a series of injuries hurt the team last year.
Captains Mitch Vaderlaan, a junior forward, and Alex Rauter, a senior forward, echoed this motivation to feed off the confidence from the prior season. Vanderlann remarked that the team “took a step forward” last year and is looking to do the same in the upcoming season; to prepare, players have focused on the details of their game, such as offensive habits and staying in position. Rauter also commented on the meaning of his captainship, noting that although the underclassmen understand what they have to do, it is his job to “lead by example” and make a difference on the team.
Following the players, Coach Michael Schafer addressed the media with his own thoughts regarding the start of the regular season. Despite having a young team, Schafer noted the physical and mental maturity of the freshmen players as well as the help of the upperclassmen in welcoming the newcomers to campus, helping them move in and engaging them in bonding activities such as camping trips and team dinners. Schafer also voiced his belief in having a good attitude and working hard both on the ice and in the classroom, as well as the necessity of players to hold both themselves and their teammates accountable.
Schafer remarked, however, that the depth of the team will prove itself both a strength and a weakness. While the team boasts a rich collection of talented athletes, the team suffers from the “unknown.” Namely, the starting goalkeeper has not yet been designated and, while the freshmen have showcased their skills during practice, they have yet to prove themselves in games.
Following the team’s two exhibition games, Cornell men’s hockey will be back at Lynah Rink for the first regular season matchup on October 27th. After a pair of games against Alabama-Huntsville, Cornell will face Quinnipiac University in its first ECAC game on November 3rd.