Not all the information I gathered for the season previews can fit in the original article. So, here are some of those thoughts that are worth mentioning.
One of the items that struck me is how some schools purposely create a very tough nonconference schedule. Obviously, you have no control over the conference schedule, so the goals you want to set outside your conference are mostly controlled by the coaches.
For the top programs, like Oswego and Plattsburgh, they always want to make sure they have strong opponents in case they need the Pool C entry into the NCAA tournament.
There’s nothing really new on Plattsburgh’s schedule, as they have followed this philosophy for years. As usual, they participate in the Primelink Tournament (held this year at Middlebury). This year, Elmira is the guest team, along with Middlebury and Norwich, making this one of the toughest Primelinks ever. For their own tournament, the Cardinal Classic, they didn’t shy away from bringing in strong teams — Babson, Utica, and Castleton. Then, Plattsburgh scheduled games against Castleton, Skidmore, Norwich, Middlebury, and Williams.
Oswego followed the same formula for their Pathfinder Bank Oswego Classic, selecting a team from the ECAC West, New England, and the West. It may not be the strongest tournament this time around, but Connecticut College, Neumann, and Hamline aren’t all pushovers. Oswego started the season out with a home-and-home against Elmira, plays Utica twice, have a very interesting contest against Curry, and also plays Hobart and Hamilton.
What is sometimes surprising is when a team which could use a win, any win, for confidence-boosting reasons, is still willing to challenge themselves with the best competition possible.
Cortland is in a unique geographic location, where they don’t have to travel far to line up the top teams in the country.
They scheduled the entire ECAC West (Neumann twice), play New England College twice, and threw in Hamilton for good measure.
“Our schedule is one of the toughest in the country,” Cortland coach Joe Baldarotta said. “We don’t have any easy games on our schedule. I know some people look at us as a game they can take off. We can’t point to any game where we can do that. We’re not ducking anybody.”
Considering they just beat Hobart, who’s to argue with that strategy?
Brockport’s coach Brian Dickinson looks at some of these tough games from another perspective, like the season opener at Utica.
“Great test,” he said. “Going on the road for the opener is a great thing as a coach. They put a lot of people in the stands. That gets our guys ready for when we go to Oswego and Plattsburgh, which we do early in the season.”
Morrisville doesn’t shy away from competition either. They go up against Tufts, perhaps Castleton, Neumann twice, Norwich, Elmira potentially three times, and Manhattanville.
Another interesting item is how Plattsburgh’s schedule is lined up. They have no weekday games. None. All their games take place on Friday or Saturday. Same with Oswego, Potsdam, and Morrisville. Other schools have just one weekday game, and they take place when school is not in session.
I could never understand why the self-proclaimed elitist schools, like when the Middlebury president proposed shortening the season or the NESCAC insists on starting later, think a shorter time period to fit in the same number of games is a good thing academically.
Look at any Division III basketball schedule. They have to start later than hockey, but end the season on the same weekend and play the same number of games (25). Basketball teams have to play numerous weekday games. How is traveling during the week, missing classes, tests, and study time, more academically beneficial than an extra week or two of playing on the weekends when most students aren’t bothering with school stuff?
One final thought, which I did mention, but want to emphasize again, is how close I think this season will be for certain positions. Yes, on paper Oswego appears to be the runaway season champion, but I really like Geneseo. I believe they have had the best two years of recruiting than anyone in the league outside of Oswego, and are poised to possibly make a run at the Lakers. They just need to avoid some of these heart-stopping games.
Behind them, it really is a tossup between the teams I expect to make the playoffs. And it really is a tossup between the teams I expect not to make the playoffs.
In fact, at the last minute, I switched Fredonia and Buffalo State in my predictions. I did the same with Cortland and Brockport.
If I wrote the preview on a different day, I may have done the predictions differently. That’s how close I think it will be this year.
I have a confession to make. One that will completely, without a doubt, absolutely destroy my reputation.
A month ago, I went to the New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, N.J. to drive the pace car in the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association event. All us officials got fed lunch everyday. On the last day, they brought in Kentucky Fried Chicken.
I went through the line, loading my plate up. Then, at the end of the line, I saw them.
Hot, soft pretzels.
I’m at a race track, driving the pace car, and being served hot, soft pretzels. Can life get any better than this?
My plate was full, and I thought, well, let me eat this first, and I’ll come back to get a pretzel. When I was done, I was full, and I knew I could be in the pace car for hours, and pace cars don’t have … ummm … facilities. I looked back at the hot, soft pretzels on the serving table calling my name out.
I had no choice. I had to pass up the pretzels. Yes, I had to pass up a hot, soft pretzel. A free hot, soft pretzel.
May God have mercy on my soul.
SUNYAC Players of the Week (selected by the conference)
Player of the Week: David Arduin, Geneseo (F, Sr., Halfmoon Bay, British Columbia) finished with two goals and two assists. Down 3-1 to Buffalo State, Arduin netted a power-play goal in the third period and then assisted on the equalizer with .9 seconds remaining. In the overtime, he picked up an assist on the game-winner just 17 seconds into the extra frame. On Saturday, Arduin scored the game-winning goal in the third period to grab the win over Fredonia. He has scored a goal in each of the team’s three games this season.
Rookie of the Week: Mark Constantine, Plattsburgh (F, Haddonfield, N.J.) netted two goals in his collegiate debut. Constantine put the Cardinals up 2-1 in the first period and then scored the only mark of the second period, a power-play goal to give Plattsburgh a 4-3 advantage.
Goalie of the Week: Adrian Rubeniuk, Geneseo (Jr., Grandview, Manitoba) stopped 29 of 30 shots over the course of 60 minutes against Fredonia. He made 17 saves in the first two periods before the Blue Devils tied the game at 1-1 20 seconds into the third. The Ice Knights were outshot 13-6 in the final period, but managed to net the game-winner and hold on as Rubeniuk turned aside 12 shots in the third.