The 2012 NHL Draft, which took place June 22-23 in Pittsburgh, proved to be an eventful weekend for the Red. Cornell had a strong presence at the draft, with three of its player being selected by NHL teams — a feat that no other team in ECAC Hockey can claim this year.
The first Red draft pick was incoming freshman Reece Willcox. The Philadelphia Flyers drafted the defenseman with the 141st overall pick in the fifth round. The Flyers have not drafted a Cornellian since 1997, when goalie Jean-Marc Pelletier was drafted in the second round.Willcox has spent his last two season on the Junior A Merritt Centennials of the British Columbia Hockey League, where he came away with 10 goals and 27 assists in 105 games during that time. Not only was he named the team’s Top Defenseman last year, but he was also named a BCHL Second Team All-Star during the 2011-12 season. Additionally, Willcox played five games with gold medal-winning Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge in November.
In the sixth round, rising sophomore forward John McCarron was selected 153rd overall by the Edmonton Oilers. As a freshman, McCarron played on a line with Sean Collins ’12 and classmate Joel Lowry. He had six goals and thirteen assists on the season, including a power play goal in the Red’s NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal victory over top-seeded Michigan on March 23. McCarron follows in the footsteps of Riley Nash — the only other Cornellian to be drafted by the Oilers — who was selected before his freshman year in 2007.
The third Cornellian to round out the Red’s trio was when the San Jose Sharks selected Joakim Ryan, a rising sophomore defenseman, as a the final pick in the seventh round. He joins the Sharks’ current assistant captain, Cornellian Doug Murray ’03 who was drafted in 1999. Since the beginning of his time on East Hill — where he posted two goals and an assist in his first game on Oct. 29 against Mercyhurst — Ryan has been a valuable player to the team, playing on the top power play unit. He, too, came up big in the Michigan game, scoring a shorthanded goal on a two-on-one. With seven goals on the season, Ryan went down in history with the most goals scored by a freshman defenseman in program history.
With the drafting of Willcox, McCarron and Ryan, the Red roster now boasts eight NHL draft picks for the first time since the 2006-2007 season, five of which are defensemen.