Wednesday, February 15, 2012


From the pages of the Stylus....

Being a huge sports fan, there is always a part of me that is disappointed I didn't get to go to a Division I school. Having players who are aired on ESPN sit next to you in class would be bizarre and thrilling. Think about attending Alabama this year and having your football team win the national championship. Or maybe it's easier for you to travel down the thruway and attend Syracuse with a basketball team that's a serious threat.

Another possible thrill about going to a big school is the possibility of a major upset. How would you like to have been at Iowa State to storm the field when they knocked off an unbeaten Oklahoma State team earlier this year? Or how about being at Notre Dame when the Irish knocked off the last undefeated team in Syracuse a month ago. Sorry Cuse fans.

After almost four years at Brockport, I haven't experienced anything like the above scenarios, until last Friday, Feb. 10. Brockport's hockey team defeating No. 3 Plattsburgh, 4-2, was that "big school" moment for Brockport. I've been covering the hockey team for three years, and that's by far the most exciting game I've seen them play. It was one of the best hockey games I've seen at any level.

To put the upset in perspective, the records don't go far back enough to discover the last time Brockport beat Plattsburgh, or if they ever have at all. In the 23 seasons Head Coach Bob Emery has been at Plattsburgh, he's won 15 SUNYAC titles, went to nine national semi-final appearances and has won two national championships. It's fair to say they're kind of a big deal.

To quote Herb Brooks before the Americans played the Soviets in 1980, "If we played them 10 times, they might win nine." For Brockport, it's more like 50 times and Plattsburgh might win 49. But Friday, Feb. 10, 2012 was that one time.

As the game started, I expected a blowout. After all, I've watched Plattsburgh come in here before and win with ease. Before I even sat down, Brockport had taken a penalty. Not even four minutes in, they were down 1-0 and the blowout flashbacks came to my mind.

When James Cody scored a minute later, I didn't think much of it. Plattsburgh scored again before the end of the period. Down 2-1, I thought for sure Brockport was going down another 7-1 route.

But the play of Ollie Wren was one of the best individual efforts I've seen in person. He tried giving credit to his defense two weeks ago, but when a man comes out of the penalty box and has a one-on-one breakaway, there isn't any defense to help him.

Wren, and his defense, didn't allow Plattsburgh to score in the final 50 minutes. If Brockport was going to pull this upset off, they needed something miraculous — and they got it. When Nick Panepinto put Brockport ahead with three minutes left, the roof on Tuttle North almost blew off. I've never seen a Brockport sporting event with that much emotion. Everyone could feel the tension and Panepinto made all of it burst out in a collective roar.

When the final buzzer went off, the team attacked Wren like they won a championship, and for this team, they might as well have. This group of seniors was the first freshman class to experience a postseason. They helped build this program into a team that expects to make the postseason every year.

While this game didn't happen at South Bend or Columbus, it had the sports drama that would rival any of those big schools. And it also shows the unpredictability of sports. Just when it seems like it's easy to figure out, Brockport beats Plattsburgh.