The Golden Eagles played their Finger Lakes foe, the Hobart Statesmen, on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 1,000 at Tuttle North. When the dust settled from this physical game, Hobart was victorious by a score of 4-1.
I had not anticipated seeing the Hobart team I saw. The last time I saw them play was the season before last, back when they were what they always were: a smallish, incredibly fast team that worked around people. This Hobart team was something quite different. They were big, fast, and physical, and they reminded me of a Plattsburgh team but with a tougher edge. They looked like they definitely deserved the #5 designation in the preseason polls. Hobart was a deep team and even though they didn't score, I thought Bobby Cahill, Matt Wallace, and Chris Bower (a monster at 6-5, 240) were their best players.
Hobart dominated the first half of the game, but, after James Cody transformed into the James Cody of last season -- the hard-hitting gamechanger -- things changed, and Hobart managed only 1 goal after the first 4 minutes of the second period. Cody became a leader on the ice and bench and put some incredible hits on the Statesmen including 6 that were top-notch and one that was the most violent legal hit that I've seen in a long time. The Hobart player was laid-out and it was a little scary until he rose over 2 minutes later. After knowing the kid was okay, you had to say to yourself, "Wow! What a hit!"
His physicality, coupled with that of Tyler Davis -- who was a dynamic player last night (he had 5 good hits himself, a punch for the ages and quite a few take-aways) -- rubbed-off on the rest of the team. It lit a fire and helped temper the Hobart attack. If Brockport brings that same style to Hobart in January it will be an interesting game.
But, it was a little too late for this game as the Statesman scored 3 goals in the first 24 minutes of the game, including 1 in the first 28 seconds.
At first glance, people will see the 4 goals and think Oliver Wren played a bad game. Not so...he faced 42 shots in the game, including 3 breakaways, and turned-away 38 of them. That's a pretty healthy .905 saves percentage in his first game of the season, a game against one of the best offenses in DIII. Often operating out of the butterfly he had some exciting saves that showed good flexibility...and guts: he used his face to stop a hard slapshot. Games like this (as well as his performance against Hobart last year), bode well for the state of Brockport goaltending after Todd Sheridan's graduation.
Coach Dickinson also gave ice time to "rookies" and back-ups in this non-conference match-up, so it was good to see how the teams of the future might fare.
Brockport performed admirably on the penalty kill, allowing Hobart to convert on only 1 of 6 chances.
A loss is always disappointing, but some positives did come out of the game and it was a faster-paced and more emotional game than last night's. Good DIII hockey.