The Cornell Big Red moved to 2-0 on the season last night with a 13-4 victory over the Binghamton Bearcats. Junior attackman Rob Pannell led the Big Red with three goals and five assists and now has 14 points on the year.
There is no doubt Pannell is a great talent and one of the best players in the country, but is he enough to carry Cornell throughout the season? Once Pannell and the Big Red start playing stronger teams (Cornell's first game was against Hobart) it will be interesting to see who else will step up for coach Ben DeLuca and the Big Red.
Currently the second highest scorer on the team is four players with four points.
It is clear the offense runs throughout Pannell but when he starts to get double teamed and the Big Red play a team like Army (this Saturday) and Virginia (3/12), the second and third defensemen on those teams are all good enough to hang with the Big Red's second tier of offensive players.
David Lau, Steve Mock and Roy Lang are returning players who all saw significant time in 2010. Those three along with Mitch McMichael and Chris Langton will have to step up once the Big Red take on teams in the upper echelon of the standings.
One thing the Big Red always has is a strong defense. That will keep them in many games and thats when DeLuca will look to Pannell to lead the offense.
I am anxious to see Pannell against these upcoming opponents to see how he can handle being the star on the team. His freshman year he had stars Max Seibald and John Glynn ahead of him to show him the way and carry the torch. Last year his role increased drastically and Pannell finished with 78 points. But his fellow attackmen in 2010 were both seniors.
Ryan Hurley was a great finisher who had 47 goals in '10 and was Pannell's go to guy. This isnt to say one of the aforementioned players cant be that same finisher in '11. That will be an interesting point to look for as the season goes on and the No.6 ranked Big Red get into the heart of their schedule.
I can see Army upsetting the Big Red this upcoming weekend. As we saw this past weekend, the Black Knights are a team that never quit and plays strong team defense (holding the Orange without a goal for close to 34 minutes).