GENESEO, N.Y. – There’s hot. There’s sizzling. And then there’s Geneseo.
The Ice Knights would make the sun put on shades. After breezing through the SUNYAC playoffs, 4-1, 6-1, and 7-1, Geneseo took it to yet another level in the first round of the NCAA playoffs, crushing Salve Regina, 7-1.
“We played a pretty good game,” Geneseo coach Chris Schultz said. “We created a lot of offense on them in their zone through creativity and mostly our top line.”
That top line amounted to the first five goals, with Anthony Marra notching a hat trick and an assist, Trevor Hills getting two of them along with three assists and Stephen Collins credited with two assists.
“They got a lot of hockey sense and know where each other are on the ice all the time,” Schultz continued.
“We’re all healthy,” Hills said of the first line’s hot play. “Teams are keying in on us a little bit more which is opening up more space, surprisingly enough.”
“We compliment each other really well,” Marra said. “Thirty games on, you develop really good chemistry. Just clicking right now.”
The Seahawks came into the game without letting up a single postseason goal. That ended 33 seconds into the game when Hills backhanded a loose puck in front of the net for the early lead.
“My dad actually texted me before the game and told me to get on them quickly,” Hills said. “We actually did. They’re a road team coming in here, and we put them down quickly 1-0, and went from there and never looked back.”
“They buried early, got some momentum,” Salve Regina coach Andy Boschetto said. “They took the momentum and ran with it.”
Hills scored his second in a row, following up his own rebound to end the first period, 2-0. The goal was his 22nd of the year, tying him with Collins for tops in the nation.
Once again, Geneseo scored early in a period, this time 36 seconds into the second when Marra took a cross ice pass at the backdoor and easily redirected it in. Salve Regina immediately called time out.
Boschetto told his players, “We had never been here before. Take it as an opportunity, not as a challenge. Play for the opportunity to go out there and prove something to people that don’t know anything about Salve Regina.”
It helped for 14 minutes until Marra got his second in a row. Another cross-ice pass gave him an easy one-timer on the power play.
“They gave me a couple of empty nets there tonight,” Marra said referring to his teammates’ passes. “I was happy to bury them.”
Salve Regina broke the shutout on its own power play when Jonathan Felteau lifted a loose puck over the prone goalkeeper.
Devin McDonald maintained his streak of only letting up one goal in each of the postseason games. He made 28 saves and is now 8-0-4 in his last 12 starts.
Another power play gave Marra the hat trick with 40 seconds left in the second. Once again, he received a pass on the left side before placing it behind Blake Wojtala for the 5-1 lead.
Throughout the playoffs, Geneseo has never let its foot off the pedal, no matter the score or the time left in the game.
The Ice Knights scored two more times late in the final period to wrap up the scoring. Arthur Gordon scored on a power play (Geneseo went three-for-six), and Nate Brown scored his first goal of the season in the last minute.
The scariest moment of the game for Geneseo was when Hills was hit in the foot by a slap shot from his own teammate early in the third period. He left the ice in obvious pain.
“It will be fine,” Hills said after the game. “I’m going to ice it this week. We’ll be ready to go on Saturday.”
Salve Regina ends its season at 17-11-1 and a first appearance in the NCAA tournament.
“We’re proud of what we accomplished,” Boschetto said. “Obviously, we would have liked to finish a little bit better tonight. Sometimes that’s the way the game goes. We need to keep getting better. That’s what we’ve done the last five years. We’ll be back.”
Geneseo’s (19-4-6) season continues as it will host Williams, which defeated Salem State, 7-1, next Saturday in the NCAA quarterfinal round. Geneseo beat Williams, 3-0, back in November.
“I think we’re clicking at the right time of the year,” Hills said. “You want to be at your best at the end of the season. I think as a team we are.”
How much hotter can Geneseo get?