How hard can it be? Geneseo searching for shutout

It’s one of those oddities in sports.

Since November 2, 2003, Oswego has 19 of them. Plattsburgh has 15. Fredonia is next with 13. Brockport and Buffalo State each have eight. Cortland and Potsdam each have two. Even Morrisville, which hasn’t been around that long (since 2005-6) has two.

Geneseo has none.

What are we talking about? Shutouts.

That’s right, the Geneseo Ice Knights, who have had just one losing season, won two consecutive SUNYAC championships, and had an All-American goaltender in that time span, have not registered a shutout since November 2, 2003.

“When you talk about the goaltenders we’ve had, Brett Walker and he hadn’t had a shutout, Derek Jokic hadn’t had a shutout, the current goaltenders haven’t gotten one,” Geneseo coach Chris Schultz said. “Walker’s backup, Jeff Phelps, got the last shutout for us against Lebanon Valley.”

That was a 3-0 win where Phelps made 23 saves.

Perhaps the most amazing part of the streak, which was talked about often during his career, is how Walker never got a shutout. Is there any All-American goalie who never registered a single, solitary shutout in his career? It was quite a career, going 41-29-10 (.575), .904 save percentage, and 3.10 goals against average.

His numbers didn’t start out great, because he came onboard as Geneseo was beginning a major rebuilding program and he had, as everyone remembers, a hot head which got him into trouble often. Thus, he didn’t see a winning season till his junior year, when he also started calming down between the pipes. By his senior year, he went 14-4-2 (.750) with a .912 save pct. and 2.70 GAA, leading his team to a conference title and a NCAA berth.

Waiting in the wings was Derek Jokic, who led the team to a repeat title, but no shutouts. Currently, Adrian Rubeniuk and Cory Gershon make up one of the country’s strongest goaltending duos. Yet still, no shutouts.

“Our goalies are well aware of it,” Schultz said. “It’s funny how things happen. Against Franklin Pierce, the kid steps out of the penalty box with like a minute and a half left, and it just so happens the puck squirts out to center ice, and he goes in on a breakaway. Against Western New England, there were only a few minutes left in the game.”

Ironically, just this past week, Potsdam themselves broke a long streak of no shutouts when they beat Southern New Hampshire, 6-0. The Bears’ last shutout was February 7, 2004 against Brockport, 7-0. Vince Cuccaro made 37 saves back then. Kevin McFarland, the back up, broke the streak, having a much easier day, making 14 saves against SNHU.

“It’s actually comical,” Schultz said laughing. “It’s gotten to the point where I think I’m just going to shout out ‘shutout’ from the bench to try to reverse the curse.”

Of course, if you’re winning, it doesn’t really matter how you win.

“It’s not a huge concern for us,” Schultz said. “Our goals against average is very good. The goaltenders are getting the job done.”

However, Schultz couldn’t resist adding, “But a shutout would be nice…”

[Thanks to KnightsOfTheRound on the USCHO.com message board, who first brought to light this interesting statistic.]

Game of the Week
The second half of the conference schedule begins this weekend. This means for many teams, it’s time to buckle down and get to work. No more excuses over the next five weeks.

The one game which really stands out for a variety of reasons is Geneseo at Plattsburgh.

Geneseo is sitting in a tie for second place with Morrisville, one point ahead of Buffalo State. Since they are five points behind Oswego, logically the battle is going to be for the last bye position. Every point is going to be crucial.

Outside the league, against some very stiff competition, the Cardinals are 7-0-1, which means they are 4-4 in the league. That’s the reason Plattsburgh is in fifth place, three points behind Geneseo.

With a three-point separation, the two points on the line Friday is huge. A Plattsburgh win, and everything is up for grabs. A Geneseo win, and Plattsburgh has to consider settling for a home spot for the play-in round.

“The way the standings are, there are so many teams that can get that bye position,” Geneseo coach Chris Schultz said. “It’s cliché, but you really have to take it one game at a time, one shift at a time. If you worry about what the results might be, you’ll lose sight of the process to get there.”

Then, you have the direction Plattsburgh has been going in lately.

“Plattsburgh is the hottest team in the country,” Schultz said.

After a poor start, going 2-4, letting up 4.5 goals per game, they have gone 9-0-1, letting up 1.9 goals per game.

Geneseo can play up with anybody this season, and they are healthy after a banged-up first semester. If they win, it certainly won’t be by the 7-3 margin earlier in the season.

This is a mighty tough game to pick, but I’m going with the hot team who also happens to be home.

Other Picks
In the last week full of nonconference games, I went 11-1. Geneseo let me down with their loss to Elmira. Thus, for the season, I am now 65-20-6 (.747).

Plattsburgh also hosts Brockport, and no matter what happens on Friday, the Cardinals will have enough to beat the Golden Eagles on Saturday. This means Potsdam hosts Brockport, then Geneseo. I see a repeat of when these teams met last semester — Potsdam winning the first game while losing the second.

I see Oswego continuing their winning ways on the road, beating Buffalo State and Fredonia, though if they think it will be easy, the Lakers will be in for a surprise.  Fredonia and Buffalo State should have no trouble with Cortland.

Morrisville is the odd team out in this weekend’s conference scheduling, so they travel to Hobart. The Mustangs have been playing well this year, but I don’t see them beating Hobart.

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