Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I almost didn’t make it to last night’s game. I came very close to wrecking the truck on two deer on Route 31, but my truck made it to see another day thanks to some really slick driving. That’s how the evening began and, similarly, that’s how the evening went at Tuttle North: Brockport made it through Tuesday night to see another game thanks to some really slick play that left Potsdam with that stunned deer-in-the-headlights look.

The Golden Eagles, hosting their second home playoff game in as many years, dominated the Bears throughout the game, a 3-0 victory – a statement – that brought everything together for Brockport and produced a masterful performance.

Brockport came out of the gate intent on domination. During the first period Potsdam was allowed only 7 shots on goal. The defensemen and forwards limited Potsdam’s chances by forcing them far and outside and making them take shots they normally wouldn’t. Highlighting this approach to the game, the penalty kill unit was so good that during a PK in the final 5 minutes of the first Brockport allowed only one shot on goal and that was with All-Conference forward Connor Treacy on the ice.

Among the best performers on the ice in the first – and throughout the game - was freshman Adam Korol who had nothing but high-quality shifts all night long. On his first shift alone he put two shots on the Potsdam goal (one masterfully broken up by Potsdam’s Zack Juliano at the last second) and forced two turnovers. In his second shift he had one of the smartest plays of the night…he was sprawled out on the ice and the man he was covering had nothing but open space that he could have used to wrap around the net untouched. Adam, while lying on his stomach, reached for the puck with his hand on the forward’s stick and hand-passed it along the boards to a Brockport forward, preventing what could have been a huge play for Potsdam.

Brockport tallied one goal in the period and it was a beauty. At the Potsdam end Tyler Davis gained control of the puck and through the peripheral vision of his left eye saw a hard-charging Justin Noble blow past his defender and approach the net untouched. Tyler stopped on a dime and did a spin to the right, completing a backhand pass to Justin who let rip over Andy Groulx’s shoulder.

The second period was just as exciting for Brockport fans as the Golden Eagles exuded teamwork. The special teams unit did not allow one shot on goal during a penalty kill early in the period and Justin Noble came so close to getting a shorthanded goal during it after having executed a nice breakaway. During a penalty kill in the waning minutes of the period Adam Shoff had an excellent blocked shot (that look like it really hurt), just moments after Brett Jendra laid out to block a shot very near to the net that turned the puck over when Potsdam looked like it had momentarily gained control of the game’s tempo.

The power play unit, one of the best in the nation, had its chances this game but twice they had the unfortunate luck of pucks bouncing off the post, one by Justin Noble and the other by Ian Finnerty.

Brockport’s lone goal of the period looked like a scripted play. A 3-on-1, it was a pass from Todd Sheridan to Alan Liwush to Adam Shoff to James Cody that went off without a hitch and seemed to really catch Potsdam off guard. Cody’s shot was a hard one that Groulx had no chance of stopping.

The third period featured more of the same as Brockport allowed only 10 shots on goal. Team D was impressive once again with Adam Shoff making another fantastic body block half-way through the period that, like Jendra’s in the 2nd, put the momentum back in Brockport’s favor. Ian Finnerty had a solid period and he did well in keeping the Potsdam forwards at bay. James Cody scored the last goal in the final minute to seal the game and he deserved it: When Potsdam temporarily pulled their goalie the puck went to Connor Treacy (who Brockport did not want to see with the puck in such a key moment) who was alone along the boards. Cody closed in on him at high speed and checked him violently, putting their best threat right to the ice.

It was a team performance highlighted by many individual performances, including a top-notch one by goaltender Todd Sheridan. In what is probably the last home game of his college career he earned his third shutout of the season (the College’s new single-season record) and the first playoff shutout in Brockport history. He had many great saves, including 4 with the glove and spectacular series in the second when he was spread eagle and blocked 3 shots, including one in which he raised his mitt to block a shot that a Potsdam player had hoped to lift over his prostrate body.

It was a bittersweet moment after the game for Todd, his family and the fans. Arguably the best hockey player – and undoubtedly the most exciting player - in Brockport history, Todd, after the post-game salute, retreated to the net, a place he has called home the past 4 years, and stayed there, savoring the victory and many memories Tuttle North has given him. It took him a few minutes to get off the ice and he appeared emotional. I’ll admit I was a little saddened, too. He’s given me and the fans a lot of great memories on the ice and the things he’s done off the ice are extraordinary. He’ll be missed in a Golden Eagles uniform. Thanks for the memories, Todd!

And, thanks for the memories, 2009-2010 Golden Eagles! Thanks for making Tuttle North such an electric place: Last season was considered among the greatest in team history – with the 14 wins and the home playoff victory – and this year the team duplicated that feat. This season was full of exciting plays and thrilling games, all done with a hustling, hard-fought, team-first approach to hockey…hockey played the way it is supposed to be played. I’m proud of your accomplishments and I’m already looking forward to the start of next season…and a continuation of all the great things the team has done the past few years. Good luck on the road in the playoffs…I’ll be listening…and hoping that I can see you at the DIII Frozen Four in Lake Placid next month!

Here’s the Athletic Department’s recap of the game…

Sophomore James Cody (Schwenksville, PA) scored twice and senior Justin Noble (Georgetown, ONT) added the game-winning goal as The College at Brockport Ice Hockey team posted a 3-0 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 (14-11-1) advances to play No. 2 seed SUNY Plattsburgh due to the upset in Fredonia as SUNY Morrisville posted a 3-2 overtime win over Fredonia and will face top-seeded SUNY Oswego. Both games are scheduled for 7 pm Saturday.

The Golden Eagles scored once in each period starting with Noble’s goal with less than a minute to play in the first period to give Brockport the 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

In the second period, Potsdam (9-14-2) killed of its first penalty of the game near the midpoint of the period but 13 seconds later, Cody fired a high shot over the shoulder of Andy Groulx for the 2-0 Brockport lead with 9:58 to play in the period.

The game remained close with both teams having scoring chances but Todd Sheridan (Edison, NJ) held his ground in the Brockport goal with 10 saves in the period. Late in the period, Cody stole the puck near the blue line and raced the length of the ice and tapped in an empty-net goal for the final margin.

Here’s USCHO’s recap of the game…

Brockport hosted Potsdam in a rematch of last year’s SUNYAC play-in game. Brockport scored three goals just like last year. Brockport played solid defense with excellent goaltending — just like last year. Brockport equaled their win total from last year. The only difference is this time Brockport got the shutout, defeating Potsdam, 3-0.

“I thought we controlled most of the tempo,” Brockport coach Brian Dickinson said. “When they did get going, we were able to keep their shots to the outside. I didn’t really feel Todd [Sheridan] had to make any bona fide Grade As. A lot of their shots were from the outside. A lot of their shots were blocked or deflected wide.

“Our goal was to make sure that big line didn’t get moving up through the middle of the ice. It was great for Todd to get a shutout because it’s a great memory for him, but really that was a team shutout.”

“For most of the game, the puck wouldn’t settle down,” Potsdam head coach Chris Bernard said.

“We didn’t carry enough territory. Credit them: they packed it in tight. It was tough to get pucks through. They battled hard for the rebounds that did get through.”

It appeared the first period would end scoreless until Brockport scored with 50 seconds left. Justin Noble down the left side fired a snap shot over the far shoulder of Andy Groulx.

“We were hoping to score early against the freshman and get him on his heels a little bit,” Dickinson said. “Any time you can score a goal in the last minute to get that momentum going, it’s certainly big. The pass went into Noble’s skate, and he did a great job getting it from skate to stick, one timer. Well placed.”

The first period saw just one penalty while the second had six calls made. Though the first Potsdam penalty expired, it eventually led to a Brockport goal to make it 2-0 at 10:02.

“We were calling for a change on a couple of guys because the power play mixed things up a bit,” Dickinson said who never saw the goal trying to pay attention to the line change.

It was a slow developing play to begin with, but quickly turned into a 3-on-1 down low. James Cody was left unmarked down the middle and he one-timed the pass from Adam Shoff right in front of the net.

Before the goal, Brockport nearly got their second goal early in the period while short-handed. The Golden Eagles had a two-on-none breakaway, but put the shot right into Groulx, who cut the angle down perfectly.

Potsdam finally got some consistent pressure on Brockport in the middle of the second period including a solid power play, but Sheridan was able to keep them at bay.

“He made those stops he needed to make,” Bernard said. “I think our power play was less than sharp early on. We got some movement later on.”

The third period was like the first period, a clean, quickly played game with just one penalty, not counting a frustration penalty in the waning seconds.

Potsdam pulled their goalie with a minute to go, but Brockport eventually cleared the zone, and Cody scored his second into the empty net from far over to the left side. Appropriately, Sheridan got an assist on the goal.

Potsdam (9-14-2) once again ends their season in Brockport. After a strong middle of the season, the Bears didn’t get the results down the stretch most expected.

Brockport (14-11-1) moves on to the SUNYAC semifinals Saturday evening. Instead of going to Oswego like everyone expected, they will instead travel to Plattsburgh because Morrisville stunned Fredonia in the other play-in game, 3-2, in overtime.