Last season was a banner year for the SUNYAC, but one that fell slightly short.
Two teams made the Division III national championship weekend in Lake Placid — Oswego and Plattsburgh. This is the first time this has happened since 1987, when those two teams faced each other in the championship game won by Plattsburgh (but later vacated by the NCAA Committee on infractions).
However, both lost in the semifinals. First, Oswego fell to St. Norbert, 4-3, on a goal with 39 seconds left. Plattsburgh then dropped the nightcap to Norwich, 3-2.
The SUNYAC also had the second highest out-of-conference record in the East with a .590 winning percentage.
Individually, the season was topped off by Oswego’s senior Neil Musselwhite beating out all Division I challengers in the fastest skater competition at the NCAA Frozen Four Skills Challenge.
With that success, inevitably some big stars have graduated, along with significant early departures, including Musselwhite, Eric Selleck (Oswego, signed early with the Florida Panthers), Todd Sheridan (Brockport), Connor Treacy (Potsdam), Gerald Heinz (Cortland), and Dan Brown (Geneseo) to name a few.
The season also saw the resurgence of Fredonia, the coming-out of Morrisville, and a strong finish by Geneseo despite being banned from the playoffs.
The new season looks like it could be a race of pairs. Plattsburgh and Oswego should fight it out for first place. Geneseo and Fredonia will do the same for third place. Morrisville and Brockport will duke it out for the fifth and sixth spots. Meanwhile, Potsdam, Buffalo State, and Cortland will be waiting in the wings for anyone to falter to grab a playoff spot in the top six.
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Coach: Bob Emery, 22nd season overall and at Plattsburgh (465-146-48)
2009-10 overall record: 19-6-4
2009-10 SUNYAC record: 13-2-1
2009-10 SUNYAC finish: Second
2010-11 Predicted finish: First
Expect the Cardinals to take the SUNYAC title, holding off a stiff challenge from Oswego.
Coach: Ed Gosek, eighth season overall and at Oswego (140-42-14)
2009-10 overall record: 26-3-0
2009-10 SUNYAC record: 15-1-0
2009-10 SUNYAC finish: First
2010-11 Predicted finish: Second
Though they lost some key players, Oswego looks strong as ever.
Coach: Chris Schultz, fifth season overall and at Geneseo (51-49-3)
2009-10 overall record: 13-10-2
2009-10 SUNYAC record: 9-6-1
2009-10 SUNYAC finish: Fourth
2010-11 Predicted finish: Third
After a season on the outs due to NCAA sanctions, look for Geneseo back near the top.
Coach: Jeff Meredith, 24th season overall and at Fredonia (330-247-60)
2009-10 overall record: 17-7-2
2009-10 SUNYAC record: 9-5-2
2009-10 SUNYAC finish: Third
2010-11 Predicted finish: Fourth
Fredonia rebounded last year from a poor season, and should challenge for third this season.
Coach: Brian Grady, fourth season overall and at Morrisville (19-56-1)
2009-10 overall record: 9-17-0
2009-10 SUNYAC record: 5-11-0
2009-10 SUNYAC finish: Seventh
2010-11 Predicted finish: Fifth
Morrisville will continue to surprise the top teams as they improve.
Coach: Brian Dickinson, 17th season overall (119-253-37) and 14th season at Brockport (105-205-31)
2009-10 overall record: 14-12-1
2009-10 SUNYAC record: 7-8-1
2009-10 SUNYAC finish: Fifth
2010-11 Predicted finish: Sixth
With the loss of its starting goalie, Brockport has a bigger challenge than most.
Coach: Chris Bernard, fifth season overall (26-66-6) and second season at Potsdam (9-14-2)
2009-10 overall record: 9-14-2
2009-10 SUNYAC record: 5-10-1
2009-10 SUNYAC finish: Sixth
2010-11 Predicted finish: Seventh
After a strong start to the year, Potsdam had a dramatic second-half fall that leave the team with many questions.
Coach: Nick Carriere, sixth season overall and at Buffalo State (49-68-12)
2009-10 overall record: 6-18-1
2009-10 SUNYAC record: 2-14-0
2009-10 SUNYAC finish: Ninth
2010-11 Predicted finish: Eighth
Buffalo State will probably still struggle to recover from NCAA sanctions.
Coach: Joe Baldarotta, 20th season overall (291-216-43) and fourth season at Cortland (26-45-5)
2009-10 overall record: 7-18-0
2009-10 SUNYAC record: 4-12-0
2009-10 SUNYAC finish: Eighth
2010-11 Predicted finish: Ninth
Cortland challenged at times last season, but couldn’t find the key to hold on against top teams.