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WHO WILL WIN ECAC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Stephen Baby

By Timothy M. Mcdonald, Crimson Staff Writer

He’s not among the ten highest scorers in the ECAC. He’s not even the highest scoring forward on his own team. But two-year Cornell captain Stephen Bâby is esteemed in the ECAC and beyond as the kind of player who does all the little things which help his team win, even if they don’t show up on the stat sheets.

“Stephen Bâby—his point total may be down, but he’s someone that really affects a game,” Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni said.

Mazzoleni is one to know; the game-winning goal in the Big Red’s 4-3 February triumph at Bright was set up when Bâby bounced off the boards, leaving his man behind him on the glass, and put the puck sharply on net to set up linemate Ryan Vesce’s game-winner.

Mazzoleni is not the only one who has recognized Bâby’s immense skill first hand.

“Bâby is so big and so strong with such a reach—I think he’s incredible down in the corners,” Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said.

Certainly, size factors into the equation of what makes Bâby so successful. He stands 6-5 and weighs in at 235 lbs. His size, coupled with the the skill in the corners that both Mazzoleni and Gaudet admire, helped Bâby post eight goals and tally 30 assists this season, both career highs.

But his contributions to Cornell don’t end in the opponent’s zone. He is widely hailed for his play on defense, winning last year’s ECAC Best Defensive Forward award and being the prohibitive favorite for the honor this season.

“Bâby is one of the most underrated forwards, especially with his defensive game,” St. Lawrence coach Joe Marsh said. “He’s a presence for Cornell.”

Perhaps a fixture is more appropriate; Cornell coach Mike Schafer has relied on Bâby to direct his power play and penalty kill units for years. He noted that Bâby and co-captain Doug Murray are the type of players who affect a game any time they are on the ice, whether they score 20 goals or not.

Bâby’s reputation as an all-round player exists outside the ECAC as well, seen by Big Red opponents like BU and Maine.

“He’s an all around solid player and he seems like an excellent leader,” Gaudet said. “I think Bâby is the type of kid who never gets the credit he deserves.”

It is true that Bâby is often overshadowed by his teammates. Murray is frequently mentioned as the best defenseman in the league, if not the country. Teammate Dave LeNeveu (see left) has gained national recognition as Cornell’s new number one goaltender, leading the Big Red to a No. 2 ranking in the USCHO.com poll.

Perhaps Bâby does not often get the publicity he merits, but if league opinion is any indication, Bâby’s contributions to Cornell have not gone unnoticed. And since coaches are the ones who vote, Stephen Bâby has a legitimate shot at ECAC Player of the Year.

-Staff writer Timothy M. McDonald can be reached at tmcdonal@fas.harvard.edu

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