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NCAA Prospect Notebook: Cornell University

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Cornell University

The Big Red are off to a good start after defeating Colorado College twice to kick off their 2012-13 campaign. In their first two ECAC matchups of the season against Colgate they won one and tied in the other.

A big part of why Cornell are strong contenders in the ECAC has to do with Andy Iles a local Ithaca, NY native. Iles is entering his junior season and the experience he has gained through a heavy workload as an underclassman appears to be paying off. In the young season he has a .955 SAV% and a 1.23 GAA through four starts. A product of the US National Development program, Iles also backed up Dallas goalie prospect, Jack Campbell during the 2011 U20 World Championships where Team USA took home bronze.

A determined and technically strong goalie, Iles' big hurdle in terms of his potential NHL future is his size. Iles is listed at 5'9'' which would make him a severely undersized goalie by current NHL standards. If he can continue his strong play he has shown throughout his collegiate career, Iles stands a good change of at least getting a minor league contract or an offer from overseas. Goalies under six feet tall are now a rarity in the NHL with the days of goalies like George Hainsworth long gone. The most recent goalie shorter than Iles that stuck in the pros was Arturs Irbe, who was an inch shorter and last played in the NHL in 2003-04.

Sophomore Splash

The Big Red team's offense relies on their promising sophomore class. Their two top scorers are sophomores Joel Lowry and Joakim Ryan. A 2011 fifth-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Kings, Lowry is a strong forward with good size that uses his strengths well offensively. After a freshman year where he posted a respectable 22 points in 35 games, he is starting to show the promise the Kings selected him for in 2011.

Lowry falls into a category that is common among NCAA prospects: the relatively big forward that has a change to develop power forward potential. As opposed to the small NCAA offensive dynamos like Nathan Gerbe, power forward projects are tricky for NHL teams since the production might not jump out until relatively late in the prospect's development if it ever does. The smaller finesse offensive players generally show their ceiling earlier and it just becomes a question of how well a team thinks the prospect's game will adapt. For potential power forwards their offensive ceilings have usually been largely untapped and require a lot more research in the type of player they could become as they mature.

On the defensive end bringing up Cornell's attack, Joakim Ryan's prior experience with both Team Sweden's junior teams and in the USHL's Dubuque Fighting Saints has helped him forge an intriguing blend of styles. The son of a retired professional Swedish women's tennis player, Catarina Lindqvist, Ryan's greatest strength is his top notch hockey IQ. Considered undersized for an NHL-defender, Ryan was a 2012 seventh round pick of the San Jose Sharks. In addition to his ability to think the game quickly and at a high level, his skating skills are at a high caliber. He is a good passer and his confidence as a power play quarterback is steadily growing with Cornell.

Ryan is still a long term prospect but he does have legitimate NHL upside. He likely will play out his full collegiate eligibility and if he continues to grow, he could be a very late still in the draft.

One of the most talked about names when discussing Cornell's team is sophomore forward, Brian Ferlin. A 2011 fourth round by the Boston Bruins, Ferlin had an electric freshman season with the Big Red, posting 21 points in 26 games. With two points in his first four games, the Jacksonville, Florida native is off to a slower start compared to his first campaign for Cornell. It is still very early in the NCAA season and Ferlin should still be considered to the top Cornellian on the NHL's radar given the early returns on his style, size, and likely still untapped potential.