The SUNYAC schedule is half over, and for most teams, so is the overall schedule. As expected, Oswego is on top, with Plattsburgh giving them a run for their money, and it’s extremely tight in the middle. There are also, as usual, some surprises.
No doubt, the biggest disappointment of the season is Geneseo. Though they sit tied for fourth place just one point behind Buffalo State, their .500 record in league and 7-6 overall mark is not what most people expected. Even more so has been their horrid play in games against Brockport and Potsdam. If not for their wild last-second comeback against the Bengals, they would be an bigger disappointment.
Injuries have been a major factor for the Ice Knights this year, but they dealt with them just fine last season. Something is missing, and it’s hard to put a finger on it. Perhaps the us against the world mentality which carried them last year isn’t there this season.
Goaltending, which was looked at as the best duo in the league, has certainly been off. Adrian Rubeniuk’s save percentage is .906 and Corey Gershon’s is at .851. In conference, they are both below 90 percent. Geneseo ranks last in offense, last on the power play, fifth in defense, and sixth on the penalty kill in the SUNYAC. Nobody on the team is averaging more than a point per game in league play.
It’s a wonder they are even at .500…
On the flip side, Buffalo State is picking up where they left off last year and then some. And they are doing something they hardly do — blowing teams out, beating Brockport, 8-1, Morrisville, 7-2, and Cortland, 8-0. Except for getting hammered by Utica, their nonconference record has been impressive, beating St. Thomas and Hobart, and losing a tough game to Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Needless to say, they have the top offense in the SUNYAC. That’s better than Oswego and Plattsburgh. They also have the top power play, third best defense, second best penalty kill. Kevin Carr is playing spectacularly with a 2.48 GAA.
You don’t want to play the “what if” game, but those third period collapses against Geneseo and Potsdam may come back to haunt them down the stretch, especially since they already beat Plattsburgh.
Potsdam is very much in the playoff hunt, as they so far emulate Geneseo and Buffalo State in turning the program around after receiving NCAA sanctions. With the exception of two periods, the Bears have played every team tough in every minute.
“Short of two periods in Fredonia, we played 60 minutes every single night, and that’s what you have to do to win in our league,” Potsdam coach Chris Bernard said. “I keep telling the guys it’s only going to get harder. We got to stick to our commitments every day to get better. If we do that, we got a chance to achieve our goals.”
Sy Nutkevitch leads the league with 16 points, Erick Ware leads defenseman scoring with eight points, and Trevor Cope leads freshman scoring with 12 points. On top of that, Potsdam may have found a solid goaltender in Dylan Ellis.
Ironically, Brockport may be more of a threat outside the conference than within. They played Utica tough before losing, with an empty-netter clinching it, tied Hamilton, and beat Nichols and Elmira. Nevertheless, they do have a tie against Fredonia and a win against Geneseo. They closed out the first semester going 3-0-1.
“I like where we are at now,” Brockport coach Brian Dickinson said. “Finally playing with a bit of confidence. In league, we’re disappointed in not being in a playoff spot. I felt we gave points away. But, we got our confidence back starting with the Geneseo game, our first complete game, and finished the semester strong.”
Ian Finnerty has been playing like an All Star, especially on the power play, but Brockport does rank last on defense and second to last on the penalty kill.
I hope Santa (or whomever) brings you all the things you want, and all of you have a wonderful Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.
As for the teams, there are certainly gifts they all need as well.
Oswego — Healthy goaltending.
Plattsburgh — A win against Oswego.
Buffalo State — No more third period collapses.
Geneseo — Their scoring mojo back.
Potsdam — More than two conference wins in the second half of the season.
Fredonia — Wins instead of ties.
Brockport — Shifting nonconference success to conference success.
Cortland — A playoff spot.
Morrisville — Getting over the Caylin Relkoff hangover.
SUNYAC Players of the Week (selected by the conference)
Player of the Week: James Cody (Sr.), Brockport. Finished with a goal and an assist in the overtime 4-3 win against Elmira. The win gives Brockport a three-game winning streak. Cody scored the game-tying goal with seven seconds remaining in the third period to force overtime. He assisted on the game-winner 58 seconds into the extra period for his 100th career point. He now has 51 goals and 49 assists in his 86 career games.
Rookie of the Week: Aaron Green, Brockport. Made 30 saves in a stunning 4-3 overtime victory over Elmira. He posted 11 saves in the first period and nine more in the second, with a 1-1 tie heading to the third. He made 10 saves in the third period, as each team scored twice to force overtime. He finished with a .909 save percentage, as he picked up the second win of his career.
Goalie of the Week: Adrian Rubeniuk (Jr.), Geneseo. Made 33 saves to lead the visiting Geneseo Ice Knights to a 4-2 win over Elmira. After giving up a goal 16 seconds into the game, Rubeniuk settled down and stopped 23 shots in the first two periods, as Geneseo held a 4-1 advantage.