It’s Been A While
February 15, 2000, to be exact. That was the last time that Brockport won a league game. Since then, it has gone 0-25-3 in SUNYAC regular-season play (and 0-1-1 in the playoffs right after that last win).
With that kind of streak, you set modest goals.
Brian Dickinson told his players, “Let’s take it game by game, and not worry about where we end up at the end of the season. We need to put the past behind us.”
A Veteran Team
This is a team that will have plenty of senior leadership, nine all together, with 21 players returning. Leading that contingent will be captains Dave Braunstein, a forward, and Nate Vankouwenberg, a defenseman. This means that there are a lot of folks that will be looking to rid themselves of winless records. To do that, they will need to make improvements in a lot of areas.
Though Brockport lost top scorer Darren Kennedy (11-7–18) to graduation, the biggest help on offense should come from its veterans, Nick Smyth, Mark Digby, Brian Bauman, and Braunstein. Newcomer Mike Blais, originally from St. Michael’s, should also make a contribution.
Last year’s midseason transfers, Ron Lien, originally from New England College, and the Stasko twins, Peter and Paul from Geneseo, were immediate hits on the ice. This year, they will be looked upon to play different roles, and may not see the scoring output from a year ago.
The key will be an early start. Brockport scored just four conference goals in the first period last year.
But First, Stop The Puck
More importantly, the Golden Eagles will need to worry about defense, or it may not matter how many goals they score. They ranked last in the league, and except for Buffalo State, nobody came close to letting the puck into its net as many times as Brockport.
It will all start with goaltending and a pair of seniors, Brian Tefft and Steve Tippett. Tefft emerged as the starting goaltender last season, but this year the plan is to alternate them game by game. Tefft will be the Friday goalie while Tippett becomes the Saturday netminder.
Explains Dickinson, “We wanted to loosen them both up, so that they didn’t have to worry about winning the number-one spot. They could just worry about getting themselves into game shape.”
Those goalies would sure like the guys in front of them to help out. Leading that effort will be VanKouwenberg, Brian Rochford, Kevin Graber, Chris Christensen, Ryan Shannon, and Casey Firko. Junior college transfers Mark Utzig and Sean Wheeler will be expected to contribute.
They also need to stop the power play, which they were only able to do 75% of the time last season.
Taking It Easy
Outside of SUNYAC play, Brockport has lined up a relatively easy schedule.
Nothing wrong with that. There is the old philosophy that nothing is better for morale than winning. And winning is winning, no matter who it is against. The Golden Eagles hope it is against the likes of Neumann (twice), Salve Regina, Curry, Stonehill, Plymouth State, and Framingham State. They only have two ECAC West opponents to face, Hobart and Utica.
“It’s been a long time,” Dickinson said in an understatement. Which is why winning in its own league will make Brockport the happiest.