This Week In The SUNYAC: Dec. 1, 2006

Turkey Tourneys

Five SUNYAC teams participated in Thanksgiving weekend tournaments, and though none of them won a championship, three did make it to the finals.

The highlight, of course, was the Primelink Tournament, which Potsdam was participating in for the last time. They did not exactly go out in grand style, as they let up 15 goals and scored just once. However, Plattsburgh, who was struggling coming into the tournament, performed exceptionally well. First they beat the number one team in the country, Middlebury, 4-2, thanks to 21 saves by Chris Molinaro and two goals by Kevin Galen.

They lost the championship game to host Norwich, 4-2, but led twice and gave up the winning goal with just 3:14 left in the game. Molinaro made 31 saves while T.J. Cooper and Ryan Busby scored the goals.

The SUNYAC will no longer have two representatives in the Primelink. Instead, the three teams with the larger rinks and better fan support, Plattsburgh, Middlebury, and Norwich, will remain in the tournament rotating amongst themselves the hosting privilege. A fourth team will be invited each year. Next year, it will be St. Thomas.

Potsdam has already lined up a replacement as they have committed to next year’s Babson Tournament.

This year, Geneseo was in the Babson Tournament. They beat Southern Maine, 6-3. Jeff Pasemko got some playing time between the pipes, and made 17 saves for the win. The Ice Knights were down 2-0 before scoring three straight second period goals. After Southern Maine tied it up, Geneseo once again scored three unanswered goals, this time in the third, to put it away. Trent Cassan scored twice.

This set up a rematch of last year’s NCAA play-in game against UMass-Dartmouth. And once again, UMass-Dartmouth beat Geneseo, this time 6-2.

Cortland also made it to the finals, participating in the Skidmore Invitational. After spotting Nichols a 3-0 lead in the first, Cortland scored five goals to win. Justin Kocent scored twice while Ben Binga made 25 saves. In the championship game, the Red Dragons were shutout by Skidmore, 4-0.

Brockport was the only SUNYAC team that did not lose a tournament game … but they didn’t make it to the finals in the PAL Stovepipe Tournament. They tied Plymouth State, 1-1, on a goal by Geoff Schweikhard and 19 saves by Todd Sheridan. However, a winner had to be determined for the tournament’s sake, and Plymouth State won the shootout, 2-1, after five rounds.

The Golden Eagles came back in the consolation game to beat Suffolk, 4-3. After jumping out to a 4-1 lead with four different goal scorers, they hung on when Suffolk scored two powerplay goals in the final eight minutes. Sheridan made 27 saves.

It’s now back to the last weekend of conference play for this semester.

How Golden Are The Eagles?

Playing just about half their schedule, Brockport has already won as many games as they did last year and have five times the amount of conference points. More importantly, they are currently in third place as four teams are separated by one point and six teams by two points. It’s the true definition of a logjam.

Is this a glass half full or half empty scenario? Is Brockport’s third place standing due to their effort and turnaround from last season or merely a fact of everyone else beating up on each other?

“We’re still trying to find our niche,” Brockport coach Brian Dickinson said. “We’re good enough to compete with anyone in terms of working hard and keeping it simple. We get into trouble when we think we are better than someone else and try to get too fancy.”

Todd Sheridan is certainly a key reason for Brockport being able to beat anyone on any day. The freshman has relegated Greg Van’t Hof to backup status with a .895 save pct. and 2.96 GAA. They need him to be consistent, because Brockport doesn’t score that much, just 2.17 goals per game overall and three per game in conference play.

The players who are putting the puck in the net are Jason Dolgy (4 with three of those in conference play), Greg Schwind (3), and Gordon Pritchard (3). Chris Koras seems to be feeding them all the time as he has six assists.

Brockport gets it done by keeping to the basics and playing hard for all 60 minutes. They display their hard working attitude by playing their best in the final period. They take most of their shots in the third period by a wide margin over any other period, and in conference play, they score the most in the final stanza.

Most importantly, they are starting to believe in themselves, as Dickinson is instilling the attitude that every game counts.

“The one thing we have going for us is we treat every game with respect,” he said. “In order to get to the next level, we need to take care of business in every game. We’re not satisfied anymore with 6-7 win seasons. We want to be .500.

“We have a standings board in our locker room, so they are constantly reminded that every game is a big game.”

This weekend, Brockport is in the unique position to dictate not only their own destiny, but perhaps the destiny of a lot of other teams in the middle of the standings. They play two teams that are just one point behind them, Buffalo State and Fredonia. What happens in those two games will certainly shake things up, and not necessarily for those three teams, such is the tightness of the SUNYAC.

Dickinson figures it takes about 10-11 points to get into the playoffs. They currently have five, so a sweep puts them almost there. Even a split goes a long way. However, losing both puts them back into last year’s position.

“We put so much emphasis on all of our games, so we can handle the pressures for Fredonia and Buffalo State just like Plymouth State and Suffolk,” Dickinson said.

The attitude of the team and the campus is upbeat. They fully understand what this weekend means and how important it is to get Brockport to the next level. It will go a long way in determining just how golden the Eagles are.

SUNYAC Short Shots

During a major penalty against Cortland, the Red Dragons outscored Oswego, 2-1 … Oswego took 50 shots against Cortland but had to settle for a 3-3 tie … Pat Street got the shutout for Fredonia over Buffalo State making 26 saves … Potsdam’s Luke Beck got two goals and two assists in a 7-3 win over Morrisville … Plattsburgh blew a 2-0 lead after two periods against Elmira … Brockport outshot Geneseo 48-30 and scored two shorthanded goals during one power play, 34 seconds apart, but lost … Brockport again outshot their opponent, this time Morrisville, 57-18, but lost again … Cody Williams made 56 saves in that Morrisville victory, their first against a SUNYAC team … Geneseo unleashed 65 shots and went five for 16 on the power play in their 6-4 win over Wentworth … Oswego’s Garren Reisweber now has ten goals in seven games.

Game of the Week

With the standings as tight as they are, there are a whole bunch of games that are significant. In fact, just about all of them. To pick just one is going to be impossible. So, instead of picking one for the week, I’ll pick one for each day.

For grins and giggles, I could pick the Cortland at Plattsburgh match up, only because there probably is not a time in history that Plattsburgh has played a game to determine last place. Even when you list the teams in alphabetical order, Plattsburgh does not come out last. But, I’ll be nice and bypass the temptation.

The game I am picking for Friday is the Brockport at Buffalo State contest I mentioned earlier. The Bengals have not been playing up to everyone’s expectations, and after a loss to Fredonia, Nick Carriere had a very, very, very long talk with his players.

“Against Fredonia, we came out great and stuck to our game plan,” Buffalo State coach Nick Carriere said. “At the moment we faced some adversity, guys started doing their own thing sucking us into the abyss of selfish hockey.”

Buffalo State has not played since then and should come out flying. More importantly, they need to come out flying because Brockport certainly will and every point is becoming so precious.

“They’ve been playing through the break, so I expect them to come at us hard and fast,” Carriere said of Brockport. “Coach Dickinson does a nice job getting those guys working hard. They’ve been playing good hockey.”

Dickinson said of Buffalo State, “They are better than their record shows. They have the potential to beat anybody on any night.”

Like I already stated, this game is Brockport’s opportunity to take that next step. Both these teams rely on hard work and the basics.

“Our games with Buffalo State recently always seem to be close,” Dickinson said. “They are not very clean games. Usually a lot of penalties. Usually comes down to the team that cashes in on their powerplay opportunities. I expect the same type of game – decided in the last half of the final period.”

Carriere said, “If we go out and do our thing, I’m not concerned about the outcome. It will take care of itself.”

It certainly will be a game worth seeing.

As for Saturday, despite the opposite records, I have to go with Oswego at Plattsburgh. Whenever you put these two teams on the ice together, you can throw away those records. This is the best rivalry in the conference, and Saturday night should be no exception. Both teams will come out hard with plenty of emotion. The one that can contain it the best and stay out of the penalty box will most likely prevail.

It will also help if the Plattsburgh fans can contain the tennis balls.

On The Periphery

Over the summer, the college hockey community lost Laura Hurd, a four year standout with Elmira who led the Soaring Eagles to two national championships, in a car crash in Watkins Glen, N.Y.

This past week, the college hockey community was once again rocked with the"div-insticator-ad-3");"div-insticator-ad-4");Insticator.load("em",{id : "56ac6da0-3ffe-493b-bdc8-82aa40b42c0d"})