In their first year of eligibility in their third year as an NCAA institution, Morrisville made the SUNYAC playoffs. Before anyone could shout, “But they only got in because Geneseo was banned from the playoffs,” the Mustangs shut the critics up by beating Fredonia, 3-2. The win came in Fredonia three days after getting shellacked by the Blue Devils, 7-1, in the final regular season game.
Then, in the semifinal round, they nearly shocked the college hockey world by taking a 3-0 and 4-2 lead over Oswego before finally succumbing to the then number one team in the country.
“Roller coaster,” is how Morrisville coach Brian Grady described the season. “We had some good highs and some frustrating losses. Started out the year on a high beating Elmira with some great goaltending from Caylin Relkoff. Struggled during the season with a six-game losing streak. Then turned it on to make the playoffs, got a playoff victory, and had a lead over Oswego, only to squander it away.”
They also beat Geneseo, defending national champs Neumann, and Potsdam twice, as well as the games they needed to win down the stretch against Cortland and Buffalo State.
The days of assuming an easy win against Morrisville are over, and they are even better this year.
Empty Lockers: Their second leading scorer last year, Andrew Alarie, has graduated, along with Dana Calderone and defenseman Kyle Roberts. However, overall Morrisville suffers very little from their losses.
The Core: All you need to know is Caylin Relkoff is back to know that Morrisville is on solid footing. Relkoff single-handedly kept his team in many games, and like Brockport’s Todd Sheridan last year, Relkoff will be asked to carry the team on his shoulders in his senior year.
“We’ve stepped up our expectations of our players,” Grady said. “We have 18 players coming back. Very excited about our forwards coming back. There’s going to be some serious competition for playing time.”
Those players include leading scorer Rob Sgarbossa, third scorer Bobby Cass, fourth scorer Matt Salmon, Chris Cerbino, and defensemen Tom Longland and Derek Matheson.
New Gear: “I think we have more speed than we’ve ever had before,” Grady said. “We definitely have more skill. We have more depth than ever before.”
Curtis Renaud has great breakaway speed and will be difficult to contain. He’s also a good two-way player not afraid to go into the corner. James Jarvis stands amongst the rookie defenders as a fluent skater.
Colin Breen will be given an opportunity to challenge Relkoff in net.
“Caylin’s never been pushed before,” Grady said. “Depth has always been an issue at that position.”
Key Question: “Yeah we made the playoffs, but every team reloads,” Grady said. “We’re ready to go out and prove we weren’t a flash in the pan. To do all that, we’ll love to host a playoff game, which is going to be really difficult in this league.”
Host a playoff game? Morrisville? Sound ludicrous?
The key question isn’t what Morrisville does on the ice; the key question is how the rest of the teams in the league treat Morrisville. If they don’t give the proper respect to the Mustangs, Grady’s wish won’t sound so ludicrous.
Mark Your Calendar Game: December 4 at Fredonia.
In the last game of the regular season, Fredonia clobbered Morrisville, 7-1, and outshot them, 53-29. Three days later, Morrisville returned to beat Fredonia in the playoffs, as well as outshoot them. This will be the first time this year they meet, and both teams are probably looking to prove their respective win was the real deal.