Over the past couple months we here at TCHB have been counting down our top 16 teams in America (because 16 teams make the NCAA Tournament) and over the course of the next month or so our top 5 will be revealed. Today’s team is #4 Cornell
Last year the Cornell Big Red fired off an amazing start, starting 13-1-3. But, they lost 7 of their final 14 games, including in the regional final to Bemidji State. With a not too difficult early schedule, it’s possible we could see a similar start from the Big Red, and it will be up to coach Mike Schafer and their leader, Senior goalie Ben Scrivens, to keep the pressure on the rest of ECAC Hockey.
Two 20 point scorers, Evan Barlow and Michael Kennedy, have graduated, but Cornell has the firepower to withstand their departures. Former NHL 1st round pick Riley Nash (13-22–35) is back. Nash is perhaps the most talented player in ECAC Hockey (although Harvard Freshman Louis LeBlanc will have his chance to take that title). Nash does it all for the Big Red – and perhaps has to – with his great vision of the ice, passing ability, and ability to play solid defensive hockey he is on the short list for best player in the nation. Oiler fans seem to be unhappy with his development, but trust me, he’s going to be just fine.
Also back is Brendon Nash, a Senior Defenseman who will be the rock of their blueline and will hopefully chip in some scoring for them as well, as is Blake Gallagher who scored 28 points last year, although only 7 of those were goals.
But the bedrock of this Cornell team is senior goalie Ben Scrivens. Scrivens was 6th nationally in save percentage (.931) and 3rd in GAA (1.81). He fell off a bit at the end of the year, but he allowed just 5 goals in the first 6 games of the season, and had 7 shutouts throughout the entire year. Scrivens no doubt benefits from the system in which he plays, not to mention the very defensive conference, but there is no doubt he is a good goaltender and will be right up towards the top of those rankings the entire year.