This Week in the SUNYAC: Jan. 23, 2003

Not A Week To Shout About

In the first semester, SUNYAC teams did quite well outside their conference. At the start of 2003, they continued to hold their own. However, this past week was a complete disaster for the SUNYAC as they lost every which way — some against tough opponents, some by blowouts, and some by sheer embarrassment.

While Plattsburgh lost to a very good RIT squad, Buffalo State inexplicably lost to Milwaukee School of Engineering not once, but twice. While Fredonia is the toast of the town inside their own league, they are unable to carry the SUNYAC torch outside the conference. While Potsdam was beating up on teams early in the season, they have been downright anemic lately. The only games that Geneseo and Cortland won this year was against a virtual club team by the name of Neumann. And Brockport has only had “success” this year against the doormats of the ECAC Northeast.

The Bright Spots

There were some bright spots … well, two to be exact. Plattsburgh bounced back from their 5-2 loss at RIT to defeat Colby, 5-3. Plattsburgh jumped out to an early lead 45 seconds into the game on a goal by Rob Retter. Jeff Hopkins made it 2-0 and then 3-1. When Colby got to within one again, Darren Partch scored followed by Retter’s second of the night while shorthanded. Tony Seriac made 33 saves for the win.

Even with a win, not everybody was happy. Plattsburgh coach Bob Emery told the Press Republican, “We were lucky to get out of there with a win. It’s a good thing we got some breaks tonight, or we wouldn’t have won.”

In the lost to RIT, Hopkins gave the Cardinals the lead, but they didn’t score again until the third period when they were down 4-1. Brendon Hodge scored with a two-man advantage.

Plattsburgh ends its tough non-conference schedule hosting Middlebury on Tuesday.

The other bright spot was Oswego, who in fact has now won four in a row, and has gone 11-1-1 in its last 13 games. The Grat Lakers defeated Hamilton, 4-3, in overtime. Jean-Simon Richard got the game winner halfway through the extra period. Mike Lukajic scored the initial goal in the second period. After Hamilton tied it, third period goals by Scott Irwin and Jocelyn Dubord gave the Great Lakers a 3-1 lead.

Hamilton scored twice in the last four minutes, with the tying goal coming with an extra skater, to force overtime. Joe Lofberg made 27 saves in the win.

Oswego puts its record — and the reputation of the SUNYAC — on the line with a home-and-home series against RIT.

The Dim Spots

With just two bright spots, there were a lot of dim spots. The ones that shine … eh … shall we say darken the most were Buffalo State’s losses to Milwaukee School of Engineering. MSOE has never won a weekend series. Until now.

The Bengals lost the first game, 6-5, and the second game, 4-1. The only thing to write about is that senior Joe Urbanik became the all-time leading scorer in Buffalo State hockey history. He now has 118 points, topping the previous mark set last year by Todd Nowicki at 116.

Buffalo State hosts Neumann twice this weekend. A repeat of last week would sink the SUNYAC to new depths.

Fredonia is 7-0-0 in SUNYAC play. When they play SUNYAC teams in games that
don’t count, they are 1-1. Against the ECAC West, they are 3-4, with two of those wins against Neumann. In exhibition games, they are 1-1. Those stats right there are the sole reason that the Blue Devils have dropped out of the poll, despite being a first place undefeated team within their own league.

That first place team lost to Hobart, 4-1. That means Fredonia has scored one goal in its last two games, a goal by Mike Fleming in the waning minutes of the game, to prevent back-to-back 4-0 shutouts.

Fredonia has another opportunity to prove its worth when it travels to Utica on Friday.

Though Dave Weagle has played at times recently, ever since he went down against Plattsburgh in the PrimeLink, Potsdam has gone 0-7-1. Other injuries, as well as a scoring slump, are certainly at fault too, but Potsdam has apparently not been itself since its best player has not been skating at one hundred percent. Only once in those seven losses have the Bears scored more than two goals.

This past week was no exception, losing to Manhattanville, 6-2. Potsdam scored first on a goal by Anthony Greer. After losing the lead, Phil Aubry tied it up, but then the Valiants scored four unanswered goals for the win. Potsdam gets nearly two weeks to rest before finishing out its season with nothing but league games.

Both Geneseo and Brockport lost a pair of games against ECAC West teams. Geneseo fell behind early to Utica and weren’t able to come back. Justin Corio scored twice with Michel Bond and Jay Kuczmanski also scoring. The next night, despite Kuczmanski scoring first, the Ice Knights lost to Elmira, 5-2. Corio got the other goal that knotted the game at two.

Geneseo is off until SUNYAC play resumes.

Meanwhile, Brockport lost to Hobart, 5-2. Brian Bauman and Kevin Collins scored in a game that was tied 2-2 after two. The next night, Brockport also lost to Utica by one goal, 2-1. There wasn’t a single goal scored in the game until 54 minutes in when Peter Stasko gave the Golden Eagles the lead. Utica finally got on the scoreboard two minutes later, and got the game winner with 51 seconds left.

Brockport plays Hobart again Saturday, this time outdoors where it may actually hit double digits.

Cortland had no chance against RIT, losing 9-4. It hung tough early on as Shawn Jensen tied the game 39 seconds into the second period. However, the Red Dragons wouldn’t score again until after RIT put six more on the scoreboard. Cortland also is off to prepare for the second half of the conference schedule.

Real Old Time Hockey

Last week, my colleague, Scott Biggar, wrote in his ECAC West column about old
time hockey. Well, he was off a bit. And, I think he would agree with me.

Real old time hockey took place this past Wednesday at Hobart when Buffalo State came to play. Hobart’s rink may not be totally outdoors since it has three walls and a roof, but with the spectator side open, temperature wise, it’s as good as old time outdoor hockey as you can get. Especially when the thermometer hovered around the single digit mark.

The official box score claims an attendance of 153. Well, maybe if you count the snowmen, but you can’t convince me 153 actual human beings with warm blood flowing showed up to watch that game. Apparently, Buffalo State didn’t show
up either, as it lost 5-0.

A Lite Week

As most teams take a pause to prepare for the return of SUNYAC play, there are
only a handful of games this week — three on Friday, three on Saturday, and one on Tuesday. All of them against ECAC West opponents. All of them an opportunity for the SUNYAC to either redeem itself, or continue down the slide to mediocrity.

Will it be a great taste week?

Hold The Letters

Now, before I get angry email from SUNYAC diehards upset with the tone of this
edition of the column who think I should do nothing but blindly praise the virtues of the league, I give you two words — tough love.

The Featured Word: Pretzel

I recall a few years ago while watching a football game, they showed a street scene of a New York pizzeria. John Madden made the comment on how he couldn’t understand why it was so hard to make pizza the way they do in New York. He felt, and rightfully so, that New York pizza was the best. It puzzled him that you couldn’t get pizza that way anywhere else.

I would have to extend that to hot pretzels as well. There is nothing like a New York (or Philadelphia, since they lay claim to inventing them) pretzel bought from a street vendor.

There is also nothing like having a hot pretzel at a sporting event (well, beer, too, but that isn’t a possibility at most college hockey venues). The craving for a hot pretzel can lead one to do dumb things. One year, when I was at the Cleveland Grand Prix hiding out underneath the stands during a downpour, I craved for a pretzel. Now, I knew once the rain stopped the pretzel stands would not be fully prepared to start up, but that didn’t stop me. Addicts don’t think straight. I got a pretzel right away — it was the worst pretzel I ever had in my life.

Don’t ever have a pretzel at the Geneva Recreation Center where Hobart plays. They put enough salt on it to melt the ice in the rink. RIT doesn’t fare well either. Their pretzel came soggy. Receiving a soggy pretzel is worse than having your lover leave you. RIT may have a good hockey team, and even a Hotel Management program, but apparently they are incapable of the simple feat of making a pretzel.

I had a saltless pretzel at Fredonia. It was a bit on the hard, bland side. Buffalo State’s pretzel was adequate. Now, Brockport had a pretty decent pretzel. It came hot, always a positive, and was quite tasty. The hockey team may not be that good, but fans can at least get a good hot pretzel.

Receiving a soggy pretzel is worse than having your lover leave you. RIT may have a good hockey team, and even a Hotel Management program, but apparently they are incapable of the simple feat of making a pretzel.

Oswego and Geneseo commit a sin worse than bad pretzels — no pretzels. Cortland committed the next worse sin — running out of pretzels.

Where’s the best pretzel I have ever had outside the New York Metropolitan area? Believe it or not, it is at BJ’s Wholesale Club. Seriously. My routine on Sundays is to go skating at RIT, then drive over to the BJ’s on Brighton-Henrietta Town Line Road right off Route 15 and buy a pretzel for just 69 cents along with a 32 ounce Coke for the same price.

Their pretzels are everything a pretzel is supposed to be — piping hot, fresh, big, fat, soft, just the right amount of salt, and they simply melt in your mouth. I savor every bite of it.

Pretzel. What is so hard about making a good one?

Game of the Week

With only seven games played, one would thing the choice this week would be an
easy one. Not so. There are two very strong candidates.

The Middlebury at Plattsburgh game is always a good one for the two schools with only a not so great Lake Champlain separating them. Their fans always get into this one.

The Oswego-RIT series is also bound to be a great weekend of hockey. The past
two years, these games produced very good, exciting hockey, with a few surprises.

So, which to choose? I suppose two games are better than one, so by default we’ll pick a series of the week instead of the game of the week, and thus the nod goes to the Oswego-RIT home-and-home series.