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On Campus: Rangers prospect Barron 'throwback' at Cornell

Forward doing it all for third-ranked team in country

by Mark Divver / Independent Correspondent

Morgan Barron is the best player on a Cornell University hockey team that is ranked third in the country. His performance on the ice isn't the only thing the New York Rangers prospect has going for him.

"He stays in the moment. He's a real kid,'' Cornell coach Mike Schafer said. "What I mean by that is he has real conversations, real relationships. He can talk to anybody, from young kids around town in Ithaca, adults, media, everyone. He's a throwback.''

Rangers assistant general manager Chris Drury also has positive things to say about the junior left wing, who was selected in the sixth round (No. 174) of the NHL Draft in 2017. 

"From the minute we drafted him, the more we get to know him, the more we like him. Not just on ice, but off ice. How he handles himself at the rink and away from the rink is impressive,'' Drury said.

Barron (6-foot-4, 220 pounds), a tri-captain at Cornell, is considered a team-first player. 

"If you ask Morgan to play fourth line, be a shutdown guy, he'd just do it,'' says Schafer.

The 21-year-old, who is from Halifax, trained last offseason with a group of fellow Nova Scotians that included Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Nathan McKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche and Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins.

Barron has 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in 11 games this year. He scored 34 points (15 goals, 19 assists) in 36 games last season.

"I'm a big Morgan Barron fan,'' said Harvard University coach Ted Donato, whose team was defeated 3-1 by Cornell on Dec. 6. "He's strong, he's tough to move off the puck. He's dangerous on the flank on the power play. 

"He can score from the top of the circles; he's got that kind of shot release. (Cornell has) a lot of good players, but he's the guy that can turn the game on a dime with either a skill play or a power forward-type move."

Barron projects as a bottom-six forward at the NHL level. The Rangers are excited about his future.

"Each year at Cornell he's gotten better and better,'' Drury said. "Overall, he's a pretty complete player. He has a ton of size. Very strong kid. Good hockey sense. Competes like crazy. Clearly he has lots of character to be wearing a letter as a junior.''


Harper bounces back

Patrick Harper has battled through adversity at Boston University, but he's back to being one of Hockey East's most dangerous offensive players in his senior season. 

Harper (5-7, 150), who was selected in the fifth round (No. 138) by the Nashville Predators in the 2016 NHL Draft, had 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists) in 38 games as a freshman. A respiratory illness during his sophomore season limited him to 20 games, in which he had 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists), and he struggled last season, scoring 20 points (six goals, 14 assists), in 38 games.

But the 21-year-old, who played for the United States in the World Junior Championship the past two years, has rebounded with 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 15 games this season. 

He scored two goals in a 6-3 win against Northeastern University on Dec. 7 and had one goal and two assists in a 5-2 victory against Harvard four days earlier.


Wilkie leads the way

Chris Wilkie scored four of the nine goals by Colorado College, including one in overtime, in a sweep at Princeton last weekend.

The 23-year-old senior forward, who played one season at North Dakota before transferring to Colorado before last season, scored twice and set up a goal in a 7-2 victory Friday, then scored both goals in a 2-1 victory Saturday, including the winner 19 seconds into overtime.

He has 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in 12 games this season.

Wilkie (6-0, 190) was selected by the Florida Panthers in the sixth round (No. 162) of the 2015 NHL Draft. His rights were traded to the Ottawa Senators for Jack Rodewald on Oct. 26, 2019.

His father, David Wilkie, was selected in the first round (No. 20) by the Montreal Canadiens in the 1992 NHL Draft. He had 36 points (10 goals, 26 assists) in 167 games in six seasons for Montreal, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Rangers. 


Hot streak

After having two assists in his first 10 games, University of North Dakota freshman forward Judd Caulfield has picked up the pace with five points (two goals, three assists) in his past four games.

Caulfield (6-3, 207) was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the fifth round (No.145) of the 2019 NHL Draft. 

A product of USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, the 18-year-old scored two goals and added one assist in an 8-2 win at Western Michigan University on Dec. 7. 


Knight is lights out

Spencer Knight has wasted no time establishing himself as one of the top goalies in the NCAA for Boston College. 

The freshman (6-3, 192) has allowed nine goals in the past nine games, including two shutouts. Boston College has won each of those games.

Selected No. 13 by the Florida Panthers in the 2019 draft, the 18-year-old stopped 53 of 54 shots in Boston College's sweep of Notre Dame, 4-0 and 6-1. His .940 save percentage is sixth in the country.

Knight is the overwhelming favorite to start in goal for the United States at the World Junior Championship, which begins Dec. 26 in Czech Republic.

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