Geneseo started this season with an event that had never happened in the program’s history: a coaching change.
Brian Hills, a former assistant coach and All-American at Bowling Green, takes over an Ice Knights squad from Paul Duffy, who retired after 26 seasons at the helm.
Although last year’s Ice Knights had three of the top 15 scorers in Division III, the team finished in the middle of the SUNYAC pack.
Change will be the watchword this season. As Hills put it, “I think pretty much everything I’m doing here is new to them.”
Some Holes To Fill
The biggest hole left from last season for Geneseo is on offense. The loss of last year’s first line, with Aaron Coleman and Jack Staley graduating, and David Bagley transferring to RIT, leaves a void of 149 points to fill.
“I think the biggest thing here is we lost a lot off offense, and it’s going to be a matter now of who steps up to be our offensive leaders this year,” said Hills.
“Hopefully some guys can increase their numbers from last year. That’s what I’m looking for at this point — which guys who played in the shadows of a couple guys last year — which guys can step up and chip in offensively for us.”
One of those Hills is looking to is senior captain Tony Scorsone, last year’s fifth-leading scorer with nine goals and 11 assists. In three games, Scorsone leads the team with two goals and three assists.
Another key forward, Matt Lester, accounted for 13 goals and 11 assists last season and was the fourth-leading scorer.
Defensively, Hills returns a solid veteran corps. Seniors Scott Lephart and Tom Westcott are joined by juniors Michael Drezek and David Baran, and sophomores Jeremy Nau, Andy Ford, and Jon Schnepf.
Goalie Jeff Phelps, who played in 12 games last season, returns. Phelps and freshmen Scott Blackman and Brett Walker have seen action in net so far.
Geneseo is 0-for-3 so far this season, giving up four power-play goals in a 7-4 loss to Hobart in the Chase Rochester Cup, but keeping Brockport 0-for-10 a man up and scoring a shorthanded goal in a 2-1 loss in that tournament’s consolation.
The Ice Knights lost to Manhattanville, 10-1, in their first tilt.
Veteran Leadership A Key
Although the Ice Knights have 11 freshmen on the roster, the team has a balance of players from each class.
Hills will be relying on leadership from his upperclassmen as his team adjusts to his system, and players adapt to new roles on his team.
“I think we have great senior leadership … I think it’s going to be important that those guys [Scorsone and the three assistants] lead us during my first year here.
“One thing I do know that I have here is an extremely hard-working group of young [players], and I’m really proud of the work effort they’ve brought to the table so far from the dryland right up to our first few weeks of practice.”
With every team in the SUNYAC within reach of the playoffs, the Ice Knights will need a strong effort all season.