This Week in the SUNYAC: Dec. 2, 2004

Not Ready For Prime Time

Neither one of the SUNYAC teams in the Primelink Great Northern Shootout made it to the prime time game on the second night. Instead, Potsdam and Plattsburgh played each other in the consolation game at Middlebury.

The Bears came closer to advancing, sending their semifinal game to overtime, before succumbing to Norwich after 31 seconds of extra play, 4-3. After falling behind 1-0 on a power play goal, Potsdam tied it up on their own power play goal by Greg Lee. Potsdam took a 2-1 lead in the second period on a goal by Ryan McCarthy. Once again, Potsdam lost a lead in the third (the Bears led Hobart earlier in the week 4-2 in the third before letting up three straight goals for a 5-4 loss), but were able to tie it up with a minute to go thanks to Vince Tarantino while both teams skated a man down.

The nightcap repeated the same formula in the first period. Middlebury took a 1-0 lead before Plattsburgh’s Ryan Busby tied it on a power play goal. However, the Panthers scored four unanswered goals to win going away, 5-1.

This left the two New York teams to square off. Potsdam jumped out to a 2-0 lead with a power play goal in each of the first two periods, both by Ben King. Yet again, the Bears lost the lead in the third period when Ben Kemp scored a power play goal followed by a tally from Bryan North. However, the Bears held tough as Adam Gebrara scored a short handed goal for a 3-2 lead. Plattsburgh outshot Potsdam in the third, 15-5, but Rob Barnhardt closed the door in the final 14 minutes to preserve the win, finishing with 39 saves. His 28 saves the night before combined to put Barnhardt on the All Tournament team.

Turkey Trimmings

Brockport took third place at the Babson Tournament by defeating Skidmore, 4-3, in overtime. Down 1-0 after one, Brockport took the lead with two power play goals (Mark Digby and Chris Brown) only to be tied back up by a power play goal. Skidmore took the lead in the third, but the Golden Eagles’ David Dufresne locked it up on yet another power play, this time a two man advantage. Digby got the game winner, 42 seconds into the extra period. Greg Van’t Hof made 34 saves for the win.

Oswego was very impressive in its two road games with two shutouts over the holiday weekend. First, they whitewashed New England College, 2-0, on power play goals by Tony DiNunzio and Don Patrick. Ryan Scott recorded the shutout with 26 saves.

Then, the Lakers blanked Williams, 7-0. This time, Brett Leonhardt got the shutout with 37 saves. Jocelyn Dubord led the way with two goals while Patrick registered three assists.

Who’s The Fairest Goalie Of Them All?

That’s what four teams are asking themselves lately as conference play resumes and the midpoint of the season rapidly approaches. For some, it’s a question that needs to be answered. For others, they seem content with a tandem.

Though Oswego has mostly relied on sophomore Leonhardt, who has played in seven of the team’s eleven games and gone 6-0-1, the Lakers haven’t gone wrong when they put in freshman Scott. Scott is 2-1-1 with a .920 save pct. and a 2.69 GAA. Leonhardt’s stats are very similar. He has a .913 save pct. and a 2.40 GAA. Oswego has in the past used an alternating approach to great success, but if Ed Gosek decides not to, he at least knows he has a great insurance policy if one goalie gets injured or goes into a slump.

For Potsdam, that is not the case, as they struggle to find the right answer. Freshman Barnhardt came in with the expectations that he will be their goalie of the future. However, he has struggled this year with a 4.45 GAA and a .880 save pct. in seven games. This opened the door for sophomore Vince Cuccaro to fight for the starting spot, but he too hasn’t been consistent enough to do so in his five games. He carries an identical GAA with a .877 save pct.

True, Potsdam’s young defense has taken a while to gel and has made many mistakes, but inconsistent play by the netminders during the course of a game has compounded the problem.

“They’re both playing pretty good for us,” Potsdam coach Glenn Thomaris said after the Hobart game. “It’s a matter of seeing if we can get them to play a good solid 60 minutes each.”

With Barnhardt making the All Tournament team at the Primelink, it appears Thomaris has found his answer to getting one of them to play a good solid 60 minutes. Most likely, Barnhardt will get the nod in this weekend’s games against Brockport and Geneseo. However, if he can’t maintain the consistency, Thomaris will be forced to go back to Cuccaro.

Brockport is one game away from its total wins for last year, and is relying on two goalies, each with two wins, for that success. One of the few returnees from last year, senior Andy Reynolds, has played in seven games and carries a 4.16 GAA and .878 save pct. On the other end of the tandem, newcomer freshman Greg Van’t Hof, has played in five games and has a 4.53 GAA and a .855 save pct.

Those aren’t great numbers, so Brian Dickinson has to decide whether it’s worth using both of them, or try to grow one into a regular starter. With games this weekend against Potsdam and Plattsburgh and so far no league victories, it’s a decision Dickinson has to make quickly.

Meanwhile, Plattsburgh hasn’t had problems giving up goals — it’s scoring them that has led to its surprisingly poor start. The Cardinals have relied on a two-goalie system so far this year with senior Tony Seariac playing in five games and junior Craig Neilson getting the nod for four games. Seariac has the better numbers with a 2.62 GAA and .875 save pct. compared to Neilson’s 3.71 GAA and .869 save pct.

However, note their save pct. It ranks at the bottom amongst league goaltenders. So, perhaps it’s a case where they are lucky enough not to face too many shots.

Nonetheless, for this weekend’s games at Geneseo and Brockport, Bob Emery can feel fairly comfortable no matter who he puts in net. Too bad for Emery, the goalies can’t shoot.

SUNYAC Short Shots

In the past two weeks, three SUNYAC players got hat tricks, all on Friday, November 19 … Oswego’s Ryan Woodward scored a hat trick in their 7-2 win over Cortland … Brockport’s Mark Digby scored all three of his team’s goals in their 4-3 loss to Geneseo … Chad Berman got his hat trick for Fredonia in their 6-2 exhibition victory over St. Clair … Potsdam’s 5-4 loss to Hobart was due to a Statesmen goal with 13 seconds left in the game … Oswego fired off 55 shots against Williams … On the other end of the scale, Plattsburgh got just 13 shots against Middlebury … Digby leads the nation in goals with 13.

I Don’t Get It

There are liars, damn liars, and statistics. Attendance numbers definitely fit that bill. Especially, Division III college hockey attendance figures.

When I look at box scores, one of the first things I look at is the reported attendance. They sometimes give me a better laugh than a Seinfield rerun.

Like at the Primelink Tournament, where both Potsdam games attracted a nice even 1,000 spectators. Sure … It reminds me of the year that Geneseo reported 1,000 fans at every home game. Every single one for a perfect yearly average of 1,000 per game. Yeah, and I got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell.

I was at a game once where the SID (and we shall keep this anonymous) asked me, “Do you think there are 500 people here?”

I answered, “No way.”

He responded, “Maybe I can squeeze out 340.”

Now, I understand it’s often difficult to come up with accurate numbers, especially when a lot of schools allow students in for free and all the seating is general admission. Even at the Frozen Four, it borders on ridiculous. There have been years where the first semifinal game played on a weekday afternoon has many empty seats. However, since all the tickets are officially sold, they announce a capacity crowd. You look around and laugh (and pro teams often do this as well).

Sure, it has to be estimated most of the times, but at least give it the appearance of being realistic. And cut out the perfectly rounded numbers. And no counting the Zamboni crew.

Otherwise, I don’t get it.

Game of the Week

Oswego at Fredonia. Like our pick the last weekend of conference play, this will be yet another test for the Blue Devils both for themselves as well as any remaining non-believers. However, in this case, a loss will not be as harmful as they will still sit pretty in the midseason standings.

It will also be a crucial test for Oswego, who will be looking to avoid the midseason stumble of a year ago. Plus, for a team expecting to compete for first place, having lost a league game already does not allow the Lakers the luxury of dropping another one in the first half of the season.