The Brockport Golden Eagles open the home portion of the new season this weekend, hosting SUNYAC rival Morrisville on Friday and perennial DII powerhouse Hobart on Saturday.
I’m looking forward to seeing the team in action. This will be my 17th season following the team and I'm still as giddy as a kid in a candy store when the season starts. DIII hockey is very exciting, well-played hockey...it's a real treat for hockey fans to watch.
I’m hopeful last year’s exciting style of play continues into this year. You couldn’t ask for a better team to exert that physical play against than the Morrisville Mustangs. They are a very hard playing group of guys who every weekend do their best to play spoiler in the SUNYAC.
Brockport won both games last season but it took some serious moxie. In November Brockport won 5-2 but the Mustangs poured it on, forcing Todd Sheridan to stop 44 shots. January’s game was a 3-2 affair that was one of the most physical of the season. Both teams went back and forth, trading barbs and emotion.
This year’s team has that same potential. Sure, they lost to Princeton 7-0 and Elmira 6-2, but they also pulled off the upset of this young season beating Elmira on its home ice 2-1. The Mustangs are led by goaltender Caylin Relkoff who has a .914 saves percentage after posting a decent .886 with a lesser defense in front of him in ’08-‘09.
Another player to watch is Rob Sgarbossa who had a team-high 17 points last year but is best-known for being one of the better defensive forwards in the SUNYAC. He’s a tough kid who took what looked to be a game-ending hit from Dave McNab last season, but came back minutes later from that vicious collision.
Brockport’s player to watch in this matchup is Ryan Silveira who had two goals and an assist against the Mustangs last year.
It looks to be a close game with Brockport coming out on top.
Saturday’s game will be just as exciting.
The Hobart Statesmen, who are making the trip from nearby Geneva, are always one of the best teams in all of Division III. This season is no different: The USCHO preseason poll had them rated fifth in the nation. Last week they buried high-scoring Buff State 9-1.
Hobart is like a well-oiled machine. Their style of play is unique, one that typically focuses on a non-contact game of speedy puck-possession. They can really tire out even the most physically-fit of teams (of which Brockport is one of the best). Last season their frustrating methods allowed 7 guys to have 20(+) point seasons. They are led by Nick Decroo and Bobby Cahill (29 points last year).
One of Hobart’s best weapons of recent years has been goaltending. Slick glovework has allowed them to freewheel it on offense, something you can do with Keith Longo in goal (he had an ungodly .939 saves percentage last year). He’s since graduated, but that doesn’t mean they’re lacking. Freshman Nick Broadwater is another special goaltending talent who sports a great .912% this year. Athletic, he will give Brockport some problems.
Last year both teams faced off but once (this season they see each other again during the winter break). In that game, Brockport’s Oliver Wren was lights out, turning away 31 tough shots. But, it wasn’t enough to stop the powerhouse Statesmen who skated away with a 3-2 victory. It easily could have been a 2-2 tie had it not been for a questionable officiating call.
It will be a tough game, even on Brockport home ice. It looks too close to predict, but the odds are in Hobart’s favor.
Both games can be heard on WBSU at 89.1 FM and online at http://www.891thepoint.com/. Both games can be watched at http://www.fasthockey.com/
See you at Tuttle North!