The descent came as a shocker. A healthy core of productive players remained from the playoff runs and the class of recruits was the arguably the best in school history. But, they were saddled with errors, from a staggering number of turnovers by defensemen to forwards straying from the blue-collar approach that brought the Golden Eagles success in the previous seasons. Also, the freshman class seemed taken aback by the faster tempo and physicality of Division III.
A losing record was statistically certain. The Golden Eagles allowed a mind-numbing 40.2 shots on goal per 60 minutes, a marked increase over the previous season’s 33.9. The save percentage accompanying that barrage of pucks dropped from .909 to .882. Scoring also lost its luster, dropping from 82 to 73 goals. And consider this: 17 of the 73 goals came in the 2 games against WNEC, meaning 56 goals were scored over the rest of the season for only 2.4 per game. All in all, those are pretty significant – and damning - swings.
Adam Shoff will lead the turnaround this season
But, that’s the past. A past they can put behind them and a past they can learn from.
As a matter of fact, they already did.
As the season progressed the defensemen broke free of their mental lapses. The freshmen adjusted to the NCAA and started to make plays and find the net in the second semester (one of the real bright spots being Bobby Conner’s playmaking ability). And, the team managed to come together to beat Geneseo (ranked 6th in the nation at the time) and tie Fredonia in the last month of play (both teams come into this season in the Top 20).
James Cody is the face of Brockport Hockey
What Brockport has going for it is a core of seniors who helped turn around Brockport’s program, participating in the magical season 3 years ago that saw the team reach the playoffs for the first time. Adam Shoff, James Cody, Ian Finnerty, Brett Jendra, Gregg Amato, and Oliver Wren have all made significant contributions to the team and will be relied upon to do it again while fostering their ethic and commitment in the underclassmen.
Adam Shoff’s leadership will be instrumental in that. The captain this season, the young man has exuded leadership since his first day at Tuttle, hustling up and down the ice with reckless abandon, fighting for pucks in the corners, putting his body in harms way to block shots like he was a second goalie and fearlessly mixing it up with anyone, no matter their size. He reeks of energy and a never-give-up attitude.
One of his assistants will be James Cody. James, the team’s leading scorer -- and hitter -- the past 3 years, is the face of Brockport hockey and the most intimidating forward in the SUNYAC, bringing a rare combination of speed, athletic ability and physicality to the position. In 22 games last season he scored 16 goals, despite being the focus of every opponent’s gameplan and missing 2 games to an unwarranted suspension (for a supposed dirty hit). It’s wouldn’t be surprising if James found the back of the net 20 times this year.
Assistant captain Mike Hayward will lead the defensemen. The junior had 10 points last season and saw an incredible amount of ice time, hanging with the conference’s larger forwards. Based on last year’s team stats, there’s nowhere to go but up for the defensive unit, and they will be charged to contain some of the best teams in DIII (the Golden Eagles have 10 games against top 15 teams). They have some hard-hitting souls (like Patrick Hayden) and talented playmakers (like Matt DeLuca) who should get the blueliners at least near the team’s miserly ways of the playoff seasons.
Oliver Wren will save the day!
The last line of defense will feature a goaltending crew consisting of Oliver Wren, Joey Reagan and Aaron Green. Oliver posted a .884 save percentage to go with a 4.50 GAA. His numbers belie his accomplishments, having performed admirably against Utica and Geneseo among others. Don’t forget, he had a .919 save percentage in 10 games the year prior, so, he’s a man who can get it done. Joey had one of the finer freshman years for a Brockport goaltender. Despite getting peppered with 42 shots per game, he flirted with a .900 save percentage before finally settling at .895. Not too shabby considering the punishment. Recruit Aaron Green rounds out the trio, a great pick-up who sported a .900 save percentage last year in the OPHL.
Assessing the Golden Eagles: The talent is there. The work ethic is there.
Now, the team just needs to understand that 2010-2011 was an anomaly. All the pieces are there to make a playoff run. There are some mighty teams in the SUNYAC (and every one of them is improved), but there’s no reason why Brockport shouldn’t overcome adversity and be considered among them. Pencil them in now for the 5th seed in the conference and a playoff berth. This is a new season…and one certain to be exciting.