Preseason Top 16: #14 Cornell


It’s that time of year again. Each day (or so) for the next couple weeks TCHB will be unveiling its preseason top 16 teams in the country. 16 of course because 16 teams make up the NCAA tournament field. Today’s team is the #14 Cornell Big Red

Cornell, the team I probably most consistently rank higher than any other pundit. Two years ago I picked them to win the national championship and they responded by losing in the final 8. Last year I picked them to make the NCAA tournament, and even some ECAC guys said I was overrating them. They made it all the way to the ECAC title game, and I think they’ll be in the hunt for an NCAA bid again this year.

Forwards: The Big Red lose leading goal scorer Joe Devin, who had 17 for the club last year. But, true to Cornell’s reputation, offense isn’t what the Big Red is known for. They were just 7th in the conference scoring 2.59 goals per ECAC contest. Just two players scored 10+ goals and three had a point total of 20 or higher. Despite scoring only 4 goals, Greg Miller led the team in scoring with 29 points. Whether he has elite passing ability or was merely fortuitous will be more readily apparent this year, but he as well as Senior Sean Collins, a Columbus draftee, provide intriguing options up front. 2009 Under 18 gold medalist Brian Ferlin, who had 25 goals for Indiana (USHL) last year, should step in and contribute immediately, as should Joel Lowry and Madison Dias, who were each 15+ goal scorers for Victoria (BCHL) last year.

Defensemen: The Big Red have three NHL picks on their blueline, led by Nick D’Agostino (Pittsburgh), who had 7 goals last year to tie for 4th among ECAC d-men. Cornell wasn’t as rock solid defensively last year, as they were just 5th in ECAC Hockey in team defense, giving up 2.41 goals per game. Jacob McDonald, who had 8 goals for Waterloo (USHL) and Joakim Ryan, who played for USHL champs Dubuque, will add to the blueline.

Goaltenders: Cornell has one of the most intriguing goalie combos in the country. Sophomore Andy Iles was a very decorated player with the NTDP and was the backup on the WJC team last year. He was third in ECAC conference games with a .927 save percentage. But even better than him was Senior Mike Garman, who posted a .931 mark. They played virtually the same amount (1059:31 to 1010:49 in favor of Garman) and the bet here is they do the same. Similar production and better team defense could lead Cornell back to their traditional stout defense. (ed. note: Thanks to a reader who emailed me to tell me that Garman graduated early and won’t be back on the team this year. My mistake)

Am I overvaluing Cornell based on a hot ECAC tournament? Perhaps. But Coach Schafer is one of the best coaches in the country and with no true stars to replace, the Big Red look to be on their way back to the NCAA tournament.