7. Red Front
A lot has been made from other media sources that Cornell's loss of Greg Miller, who served as leading point producer for three season in a row like his now-franchisemate Matt Moulson, will be a stumbling block for the young Cornell squad. The York Lions may not play the staunchest of defense, but it will be evident early how new freshman forwards fit in and if players like Dustin Mowrey, Cole Bardreau, Brian Ferlin, Joel Lowry, and John McCarron are poised to have the big years that Cornell may need from them. Schafer has alerted the Lynah Faithful and fans that Matt Buckles, Eric Freschi, Jeff Kubiak, and Jake Weidner are forwards he expects to contribute in their own rights early. So, sit back and enjoy the early developments of an offensive front that soon will be forged into a red-hot blade that cuts through the defenses of opponents.
6. Return of Cole
Cole Bardreau means a lot to this Cornell team, the Lynah Faithful, and the Cornell community. The junior won a gold medal with Team USA in the 2013 World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia. He was an alternate captain for the red, white, and blue. His season ended after a punishing and questionable hit at Houston Field House. Bardreau suffered a neck injury and but for a slight anatomical anomaly may not have been able to recover fully for normal life let alone playing hockey at such a high level. The junior would have been drafted in the 2013 NHL Draft had he not been injured. The contest against York will be the first time that Bardreau throws on the Cornell sweater since January and will have been a long time coming for the passionate forward. For new fans, watch him to ignite the energy of his teammates both on the ice and on the bench. His flair for leadership will reach you whether you are at home or in the friendly confines of Lynah Rink. And he does not take no for an answer when it comes to success and achievement of goals. Watch, cheer, and welcome Cole Bardreau back to the ranks of the carnelian-and-white-clad skaters.
5. Last Season Ended Too Soon
This writer has let go of ranting about a few questionable calls in Cornell's 2013 ECAC Quarterfinal contest against Quinnipiac. At least on this medium. The Big Red fell in game three of that quarterfinal series. Nonetheless, this is Cornell hockey and, as Joakim Ryan stated recently, the Lynah Faithful have come to expect more out of their teams. The team last season made Cornell proud. There is no question. They swept Princeton in the playoffs and then dominated Quinnipiac through much of the first and third games of that series. They played with skill and integrity. However, that does not dull the lingering pain of an offseason too long. The last time that Cornell's season had ended so early was in March 2007. Cornell made the ECAC Championships weekend in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. Furthermore, Cornell made the national tournament in 2009, 2010, and 2012. One can see why the Lynah Faithful were left with the feeling that Cornell's season ended two weeks too early. It has been a long offseason, too long by Cornell standards, and it will be cathartic to see the historic power of the ECAC rolling again on the ice against York University.
4. First Game on the Ivy League Digital Network
I am not sure what to expect from a hockey broadcast on the Ivy League Digital Network. But, isn't that part of the fun? Okay, okay that may be too optimistic. I hope that we are long past the days of the infamous red question mark on Redcast. This is the first season of the Ivy League's newest pet project. The Digital Network seems the perfect platform for airing all of Cornell's games at Lynah Rink as well as those at the barns of the other five Ivies (20 regular-season games in total). A digital platform, such as the Ivy League Digital Network, allows Cornell's sizable fanbase in Canada to watch the games with ease with purchasing a subscription. It is also advantageous to American fans who do not reside in the Northeast or Central New York because it allows a cost-effective à la carte choice that does not require purchasing expanded cable packages and is not subject to regionalized channel services. With perennial Cornell radio broadcaster Jason Weinstein with the call, how can you go wrong? Subscriptions are available at a 20% discount now with the promo code IvyHockey2013 here.
3. New Blue Line
Even though the offensive potency of Cornell has been highlighted and questioned most, it is the Red's blue line that lost the most talent last season. It is hard for many to imagine finding easy replacements for Braden Birch and Nick D'Agostino. Both will have a tremendous legacy in Cornell hockey history. Kirill Gotovets, Joakim Ryan, Jacob MacDonald, and Reece Willcox who all saw significant ice time and found their respective niches return. Senior Craig Esposito figures to contribute this season. Esposito has made a name for himself on Cornell's golf team and it will be interesting to see how his skills on the links parlay to success on the ice. However, it is arguably the freshmen who present the most intrigue. Each defensemen that joins Cornell this season is highly touted. They include Holden Anderson, Clint Lewis, Patrick McCarron, and Eric Sade. Each come from different paths, but each already has the potential to contribute mightily to Cornell's ambitions this season. The learning curve of these defensemen likely will pace how quickly Cornell can reach its potential. Andy Iles will be more than able to hold up his end of defending Cornell's net while the talented newcomers learn Schaferian systems, but comments from Mike Schafer indicate that at least two of the new defensemen will help ease the load on the senior netminder. Schafer remarked recently that Clint Lewis and Patrick McCarron show the potential to be starters already. Look for them to begin logging major minutes in this exhibition outing and watch as Schafer cycles in some of the new defensive talent to see where they complementarily fit.
2. A Long Way from Home
Another principal reason to get invested in this exhibition contest is the fact that Cornell begins on the road. The offseason was too long. The regular season begins on the road. After the game ends this evening, it will be two weeks until Cornell returns home to face off against Princeton and Quinnipiac. Enjoy the ambiance and aura of Lynah tonight to tide you over 'til when Cornell returns. The regular season beginning 1,100 miles away from East Hill makes it all the more important to enjoy the first glimpses of Cornell's 98th team and enjoy the return of Cornell hockey.
1. Experimental Chemistry
Typically, I am one more for theory than experimentation in the physical sciences. However, there are some things that one can learn only by doing them. This Cornell team has not faced an opponent yet. The Cornell coaching staff has not had to make adjustments to outcompete opponents yet. There will be many variables on the ice this evening. The team and the coaching staff will be tested to make adjustments. This York Lions team is a good team. Make no mistake. They are competitive and their roster has players who played in major juniors, the ECHL, and the AHL. The game may be significantly more laid back in terms of approach than a contest against Boston University, Harvard, or Yale, but the goal is still to win. It will provide some thought-provoking if not entertaining moments watching the dynamics of a new team develop in a contest whose result will not affect the post-season hopes of Cornell. Look for subtle interactions that show that freshmen are learning the new systems or that upperclassmen have developed new levels of chemistry. Who will join Ferlin and Lowry on a line after Miller graduated? Will Bardreau and McCarron be reunited? Where do new forwards factor into the mix? With whom will the freshman defensemen be paired? All of these questions will be addressed and as spectators we may begin to see them answered this evening as Schafer and his staff may realize that a mixture that works in practice does precipitate real success on the ice.