In a season that has seen personal tragedy at the forefront of their minds, the Geneseo Knights have focused on motivating their game in remembrance of a fallen teammate and have proved to be an offensive juggernaut down the stretch and in their pursuit of the SUNYAC title, won by a 7-1 score over top-seeded Plattsburgh last Saturday night.
“I told the kids that they can honor ‘Hutch’ [the late Matthew Hutchinson] not by winning, but by how they live their lives every day and the people they become,” noted coach Chris Schultz. “Someone told me that a good team that has something to play for, a cause, can be really dangerous. I think we are that team and while we are still constantly taking the pulse of the team and emotion to make sure everyone is ok and coping, they have rallied around their fallen teammate.”
The Knights claim the Conference Player of the Year in forward Stephen Collins, who has recorded 22 goals and 23 assists during the season. Three other players have topped the 30-point plateau, including Trevor Hills, David Ripple and freshman Anthony Marra, who leads the team with 24 assists to go along with six goals that all add up to an impressive rookie campaign with 30 points.
During the SUNYAC tournament, Geneseo took down Potsdam 4-1 in the quarterfinals, Buffalo State on the road 6-1 and routed defending champion Plattsburgh 7-1 on the road. In the conference tournament, the Knights outscored their opponents by a 17-3 margin and look to carry that momentum and firepower into their first-round game at home on Saturday night against Salve Regina.
While the offense gets a lot of attention, Salve Regina coach Andy Boschetto points out that “they don’t give up very much either.”
Boschetto’s friend and recruiting competitor, Schultz, echoes the thought.
“You don’t win championships without good defense and good goaltending,” said Schultz. “We believe strongly in taking care of our own end and turning good defense into good offense. While we thought at the beginning of the year we would be challenged scoring goals, we have had the big line but great secondary scoring when we need it.”
Freshman Devin McDonald has emerged as the Knights’ No. 1 goaltender and has some impressive numbers of his own in his 22 games so far this season. McDonald has a 15-2-5 record in 21 starts, while recording two shutouts and impressive puck-stopping stats of a 2.48 GAA and a .921 save percentage. The Knights have always been a “take care of your own end” defensive team first and while the offense has been getting a lot of attention during the recent playoff run, Boschetto is right about them being a complete team that can shut down talented offensive opponents.
Two very poised freshman goaltenders will match up in this one on Saturday, so the offense will be counted on to do something no playoff team has done yet against Salve Regina — score a goal.