Following last night’s game I had a smile on my face for pretty much the whole drive home. You can’t blame me. I was proud of the kids for what they accomplished. I’ve been following the team for 16 seasons (nearly as long as some of the team’s freshmen have been alive) and it was rewarding for me, as such a long-time fan, to see this magical season culminate in Brockport’s first-ever playoff win. The success of this season is no doubt the start of a new era of Brockport hockey and last night’s historic playoff win – hopefully the first of many – was the piece de resistance for this season.
The Golden Eagles took it to the Potsdam Bears all night long, who returned the favor in kind, making for an exciting game that was coast-to-coast for all three periods. When it was all said and done, Brockport came out on top 3-1, stifling one of Division III’s best offenses.
The first period was dominated by Brockport, the team skating into intermission with a 1-0 lead. Jason Gorrie’s goal was an impressive blast from the boards. The crowd was slow to recognize the score because it appeared that the Potsdam goaltender (O’Neill) had blocked it with his leg pad (you could hear the contact at the other end of the ice), but Gorrie put enough sauce on it that the puck careened off the pad into the net.
What really set apart Brockport in the first was the defensive style of play. Every man, be it a score-happy forward or a conservative defenseman, chipped in on blocking shots, hitting guys, and clearing the puck. I thought Mike Gershon dominated in the first period and for that period he was the best player on the ice. He was hustling and aggressive and did a lot to keep the puck moving. Dave McNab had a great special teams performance in the first, his play on penalty kill was key to keeping Potsdam away from the net. James Cody and Rick Stanek had mammoth hits in the first, dropping Potsdam forwards to the ice. Todd Sheridan had four glove saves alone in the first. But, the best save of the period was by Aaron Boyer, laying himself out to take the full brunt of a slapshot in the first two minutes of the game.
Following the first intermission, Potsdam finally gained a sense of urgency and they piled on the shots in the second and third periods. And, that’s when Todd Sheridan took control of the game and showed why he is among the very best in the nation --- and why he should have been SUNYAC first team. Over the final two periods he made ten spectacular saves that very few other goaltenders would make in a season, let alone in one game. Buried under a relentless flurry of shots, he kept the team alive. I really can’t provide enough superlatives for his performance. It was that good!
Todd’s second period saves were really out of this world. Six and a half minutes into the period he made a Hasek-save that stopped a for-sure goal. One minute later, he took one right in the manhood with a brilliant scissor-kick stop. At the half-way mark in the second he made an extraordinary save: A Potsdam winger broke free and was completely by himself. He was so grossly alone it looked almost like an NHL shootout opportunity. Todd tumbled and busted up the potential goal.
Not to be outdone, James Cody, who is truly a fun player to watch, took control of the offensive side of the ice in the second. Both of his goals were hustling. On his first one he flew in to take score on what seemed to be total confusion by the defenseman and goaltender. Both were out of position and he took advantage of that. His second goal, which occurred two seconds after a 5-on-3, was a direct result of Brockport’s hard work as a team and James’ ability to muscle the defense away from the net.
He had some quality shots in the period. As a matter of fact, the entire team did all game. In games past they’ve taken shots from all angles and put many shots on goal, and because of that need to shoot not all shots have been of the best quality. But, this week, Coach Dickinson got them into the mindset of focusing not on the fancy stuff but on making every shot meaningful. The attention to that paid off. The Potsdam goaltender faced very few chest shots and he himself made about 4 great saves.
Among the best team moments of the entire game was a Brockport penalty kill in the last minutes of the second period. They allowed Potsdam to take only 3 shots. 3 Shots from one of DIII’s best power plays!! Now, that’s why this team is something special!
Potsdam’s urgency was really heightened in the third, being down 3-0, so they sped up the tempo. They nearly scored a goal early in the period. A forward took Todd out while knocking the net loose. It was originally ruled a goal, but after a lot of discussion it was called off. Minutes later, at the 11:00 minute mark, one of their players took a run at Todd who was absolutely crushed. That did not throw him out of sync because what happened next was surreal: Todd faced a few shots on the next Potsdam power play and he had two consecutive saves that were unbelievable…sprawled out like a rug in front of the net, he, while face down, deflected one shot with his glove, and then, with his back turned, still in that same position, he used the back of his elbow to turn away a goal like he knew where the shot was going even though he was using only his peripheral vision! Insane!
Potsdam finally got on the scoreboard with just over two minutes left in the game, but Brockport’s attention to detail over the last eight minutes prevented it from becoming a game. James Cody upended people while Gregg Amato cleared away a bunch of shots (I thought Gregg had an awesome game. I’m glad Brockport has him for another 3 years). Lucas Schott was a brilliant defensive forward hitting people and intercepting passes like it was going out of style. And, Sean O’Malley continued to impress, intercepting numerous Potsdam passes.
An awesome performance all the way around! This game lived up to the hype and Brockport played like they’ve been here before. That bodes well for Saturday’s trip to Plattsburgh!
Here’s the Athletic Department’s recap of the game…
Freshman James Cody (Schwenksville, PA) scored two goals, junior Jason Gorrie (Etobicoke, ONT) had a goal and an assist, Justin Noble (Georgetown, ONT) had a pair of assists and junior Todd Sheridan (Edison, NJ) made 43 saves as The College at Brockport Ice Hockey team skated to a 3-1 victory over SUNY Potsdam in the first round of the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Tournament Tuesday night at the Tuttle North Ice Arena in Brockport.
Brockport (14-7-3) advances to play top-seeded SUNY Plattsburgh at 7 pm Saturday, February 28 in Plattsburgh. The Cardinals are the top-ranked team in the country. In the other half of the bracket, SUNY Geneseo defeated Buffalo State 4-3 in overtime and advances to play No. 2 seed SUNY Oswego at 7 pm Saturday.
Against Potsdam (9-12-5), Gorrie scored an unassisted goal midway through the first period to give the Golden Eagles the early lead. Brockport improved to 11-2-2 when scoring the first goal of the game.
In the second period, Cody made it a 2-0 Brockport lead with his first goal of the night two minutes into the period and then extended the lead to 3-0 with a goal two seconds after Potsdam had killed off a two-man advantage for nearly the full two minutes.
Potsdam added a late goal with less than three minutes left in the game for the final score.
Sheridan finished with 43 saves including 16 in each of the final two periods to earn his 10th victory of the season.