There is no truth to the rumor that Geneseo has etched on their SUNYAC championship trophies, “Help Wanted — Coach Needed.” But, no one would blame them if they did.
For the second consecutive year, Geneseo was looking for a new coach after they won the league title. Once again, the head coach left to be an assistant at a Division I team. This time, Jason Lammers packed his bags for Ohio State. Once again, Geneseo filled the void by tapping a former player. Chris Schultz (’97), an assistant for the Ice Knights for three years, returns to his alma mater after a successful high school head coaching stint with the Aquinas Institute in Rochester, N.Y.
“Not necessarily the easiest of conditions to come in especially coming in late,” Schultz admits. “Good thing I coached with Brian [Hills]. Jason was my best friend when I played here; we were co-captains. So, our styles are similar. Guys don’t have to make too many adjustments. It always comes down to hard work and sticking to the game plan.”
Unfortunately, some of those key guys are no longer around. Gone are Michel Bond, Matt English, Matt Caren, Dan Schofield, and Kris Heeres (who is now an assistant coach). However, some key players are also returning, including the team’s leading scorer and SUNYAC Tournament MVP, Mitch Stephens, who led the NCAA in shorthanded goals. His linemates, Mike MacDonald and Trent Cassan, also are back. Brett Bestwick, Mat Cyr, and Casey Balog will keep the depth in the lineup.
Three new forwards to keep an eye on are Dan Brown, Phil Rose, and Sebastien Panetta.
Joining the returning defensive corps of Steve Jordan, Steve Sankay, Tyson Terry, and Chris Kestell are two western Canadians. Jeff MacPhee is a good two-way defenseman while Andrew Rebus is an offensive defenseman who should see time on the power play.
Starting goaltending duties will obviously go to Derek Jokic. “Jokic has earned his right, winning the conference,” Schultz said.
When Lammers took over, he was without All-American goaltender Brett Walker. Nobody believed Geneseo could repeat. They didn’t finish first, but they won in the playoffs. This time, they are without some key forwards. Once again, nobody believes they can repeat. Which just may be fine with Schultz.
“The fact that Plattsburgh and Oswego are perennially picked one and two, it might relieve the pressure,” he said.
Consider the pressure relieved, because I’m picking them to finish third. But, I wouldn’t bet against them in the playoffs, new format or not.