Brockport backed up their 2008-9 season with another home playoff game and another playoff victory, and for the grand slam of repeats, Brockport’s win was again versus Potsdam, and then the Golden Eagles repeated their semifinal loss to Plattsburgh.
“I think last year was a successful season for us just to prove to ourselves we turned the corner,” Brockport coach Brian Dickinson said. “To back up that season with a 14-win season, another home playoff game, another playoff victory.”
Looking back, it shouldn’t be so surprising. Their star goalie, Todd Sheridan, was healthy for both years, and not only carried the team at times, but gave his teammates the confidence to push the play in the opponents zone, knowing Sheridan can bail them out.
Not anymore. Sheridan is back, but as an assistant coach, his playing eligibility having run out. No matter how you slice it, Brockport is in for a huge transition year, both in its approach on the ice and in its mental approach to the game.
Empty Lockers: So, how do you replace Sheridan? Quite frankly, you don’t. However, Dickinson is fully aware you have to move on.
“We feel real confident Oliver Wren can handle the pressure and step in,” he said. “We recruited him to take over for Sheridan. He gets better every day. He’s the hardest worker on the ice. At the same time, we’re paying more attention to our D-zone. The guys have to realize we don’t have Sheridan back there anymore to bail them out.”
Also gone is their fourth leading scorer, Sean O’Mally, as well as Jason Gorrie and defenseman Alan Liwush.
The Core: “We got James Cody, Dan Galiani, and Ian Finnerty on the same line,” Dickinson said. “We expect them to continue to produce for us.”
Justin Noble and Ray Tremblay will continue to help the offense. Mike Hayward and Gregg Amato are two offensive-minded defenseman.
New Gear: Dickinson is very happy with his recruiting, which includes 10 new faces. Bobby Connor is solid, strong on his feet with great hands. Also keep an eye on Mike Baxter, Steve Sachman, and Brendan Rothfuss to raise their offensive output.
“We wanted to improve offensively,” Dickinson said. “We were only like 3.05 goals-per-game last year, and that’s not enough in the SUNYAC. We want to get to four-to-five per game. We want to get away from those 2-1, 3-2 nail biters.”
On the blue line, Matt DeLuca should help anchor the defense.
Key Question: Obviously, the key question is how quickly can Brockport overcome the Sheridan hangover. No matter how good Sheridan was, Brockport could not have found the success they did the past two years without a strong supporting cast. That supporting cast was much improved the past two years compared to the years prior.
Now, the supporting cast will have to pick it up some more in order to fulfill Dickinson’s lofty goals.
“We have high expectations,” he said. “Our team has gelled quickly together. We don’t want to just fight for a playoff spot, we want to contend for the championship.”
Mark Your Calendar Game: November 19 vs. Geneseo.
Those 2-1 nail biters Dickinson mentioned? Well, that was the score Brockport lost both times to their Rochester area rivals, Geneseo. Brockport would like nothing more than to find more goals to beat Geneseo when they host them for their first meeting this season.