How will you remember those names?
Will their names someday be uttered in the same sentences as those of Death, Ferguson, Bertrand, Hughes, and Lodboa? The Lynah Faithful can assume that their peers charged the captaincy and leadership of the carnelian and white with their incumbent honor and obligations to them with an answer in the team’s collective mind. Weidner’s, Kubiak’s, and McCarron’s wearing letters during this milestone season befits the essence of Cornell hockey.
Weidner, Kubiak, and McCarron epitomize what the story of hockey on East Hill is. The captain and alternate captains who will lead the 100th team to represent Cornell University in intercollegiate ice hockey all improved their offensive productions over the last two seasons. Each increased his offensive point contribution last season by 50% or more relative to his freshman campaign.
Cornell is about hard work. These statistics bear out that these three leaders have invested the time to improve and hone their games. Each brought tremendous focus and discipline to how they executed in each zone last season. Improved offensive figures and quality of play prove that these three distinctly buy into the way that Cornell plays hockey and reap rewards for it.
Leaders emerge during times of greatest stress and import. This coming season’s three letterwearers have produced for the Red in in the all-important month of March. No one who witnessed it could forget Patrick McCarron’s celebration as he pounded the ice after scoring against Clarkson in the 2014 ECAC Hockey Quarterfinal Game Two. He was the first member of this coming season’s senior class to score a post-season goal. He was far from the last.
Jake Weidner and Jeff Kubiak both scored in two different games of the 2016 ECAC Hockey Quarterfinal against eventual national runner-up Quinnipiac. It is this reliability that has led these three leaders to produce ten playoff points and five playoff goals in just three Marches. The playoffs last season were a microcosm of the character of this cadre of leaders.
Each played the 2016 ECAC Hockey Quarterfinal with the impatient resilience, gritty discipline, and refined furor that Cornellians expected of their teams for 120 years and witnessed among the greatest of this season’s 99 predecessors. The mustard-wearing portion of the crowd in Hamden had its jaw forced agape when Jake Weidner broke past the Bobcats’s blue line and blasted the first goal of the series past a dumbstruck Michael Garteig.
No one in recent memory improved as drastically in as short of time as did Jeff Kubiak last season. His off-season efforts with Topher Scott catapulted him to an expected and reliable point-producer and goal-scorer. Kubiak delivered a rebutting salvo to Quinnipiac’s answer to Cornell’s first goal in the second game of the series. That strike kept the Red in act two in the three-act play that was last season’s quarterfinal. Cornell won the contest.
It was Patrick McCarron likely who most lived the narrative of Cornell hockey last March in Hamden. His first few shifts were acharacteristic. He seemed unsure of himself. He made no grave mistakes. His play nonetheless was not of the pale that one had grown to expect of a veteran Cornell blueliner and him in particular. Coach Syer continued to send him over the boards. Rather than retrench into a stupor, McCarron rebounded. He found his form when it was needed most and delivered a stellar performance for the remainder of the quarterfinal series.
It is that resolve to find himself to propel a greater good in overbearing situations that makes him well deserving of a letter. He shares such character with the other skaters who will wear proudly an extra piece of twill upon their sweaters this season. This team made a profound statement in choosing these three letterwearers.
College hockey is the greatest embodiment of the sport. Cornell hockey is its greatest element. None of these captains are drafted to an NHL team. For the first time in five seasons, no wearer of a letter will have been drafted to an NHL franchise. It is just the third time in the last 16 seasons of the Schafer Era when neither a captain nor an alternate will have been an NHL draftee. This writer loves that distinction.
Now, this writer truly and sincerely wishes Jake Weidner, Jeff Kubiak, and Patrick McCarron, as this writer does all other Red players, complete and absolute fulfillment of their aspirations for careers in professional hockey. It remains punctuation that the watermark of no team appears beside the names of our designated leaders on the roster this coming season. Those watermarks invite looking to the future. For these players, the future is now. The time for greatness is now.
Their hard work over the last season has improved them. Their example inspires underclassmen and their classmates. They need not the promise of an elusive professional paycheck. They play for the carnelian and white. There is uncommon purity in all of this. Their love and loyalty beyond reproach are unequivocally to Cornell hockey.
The carnelian and white advances to the Whitelaw Cup Final nearly 70% of the time that no drafted player wears a letter when one uses the last 16 seasons as a guide. The tenacious labor of undrafted leaders, like those immortal greats cited earlier, propels their teams to unexpected heights. Expectations for this coming season are high already. The weighty task of raising them higher falls to Jake Weidner’s, Jeff Kubiak’s, and Patrick McCarron’s able hands.
This writer will not neglect considering the history of the iconic sweater that the captain, the Red leader, Jake Weidner, will wear this coming season. The greatest forward in the modern history of Cornell hockey wore number seven. Weidner recognizes this. The legacy of Doug Ferguson is one that few even dare feign emulating. Weidner set his sights high when he chose to honor Doug Ferguson last season.
As captain, I am sure his eyes are set equally high for his team. The team made its intentions known with its choice of leadership. This season to the players on this team is not about next season or their first professional paychecks. This season is about college hockey. This season is about Cornell hockey. This season is about carrying the Red back to the pinnacle of the University’s beloved pastime. The members of this 100th team surely chose leaders who have the skill and character to guide our program to a memorable anniversary.