Sunday, February 12, 2012


Saturday’s game was a game of emotions: Not only was it Senior Night, but it was also something comparable to a playoff game in the regular season. Brockport had to win or its playoff hopes would be dashed.

As always, Senior Night was bittersweet. It’s sad to see a group of seniors leave but you know they are going on to bigger and better things, securing careers and starting families -- I wish them the very best of luck in those endeavors. But, it was especially sad to see this group go. They have created so many memories, being PRODUCTIVE freshman and sophomores during the back-to-back playoff years and really lighting the lamp in their last year, which hopefully transforms into another playoff campaign. If you’ve been involved with the program as a player or fan, there’s something special that Gregg Amato, James Cody, Ian Finnerty, Brett Jendra, Adam Shoff and Oliver Wren brought to the ice. And, there’s something special they’ll bring to this ice…their successes have created a strong legacy that will continue to attract considerable talent to the Golden Eagles and maintain the excellence that these men helped to create.

The game itself was one for the ages, rounding out what was the greatest weekend in Brockport hockey as Brockport defeated Potsdam 5-3. With such production you imagine that the senior playmakers dominated. They didn’t. All but Gregg Amato (who had an assist) were kept off the score sheet. The goals came from underclassmen…Nick Panepinto and Mike Baxter scored twice each, huge performances for such a huge game.

The first period ended with two goose eggs. Brockport couldn’t score with 20 shots on goal, nor could Potsdam with 11. It wasn’t without close chances. With 15:43 left in the period Mike Hayward fired a killer slapshot from the blue line, but Kevin McFarland sucked it in with his glove, a feat he would repeat throughout a 40 save performance on the night. He did so with an excellent glove save with 4:29 left in the period. He was also aided with some good luck, an Ian Finnerty shot ringing off the post at the 14:10 mark. Oliver Wren also continued his lights out play of late with some excellent saves, including a beauty with 8:19 left in the first when he stretched just enough to reach and deflect a Potsdam shot so it bounced off the post.

The second period ended 2-2. It could have been worse for both teams. Steve Sachman came really close to scoring with a wrister at 16:57, but McFarland stopped it with his face. Then at 16:43 Wren got creamed on a breakaway as a Brockport defender was thrown right into him. It was a vicious collision and it looked bad for Wren as he came up favoring his hand. But, he toughed it out and continued to dominate. The man is on a mission!

15 seconds later it appeared that a goal was nearly scored against Brockport, but the ref made the right call that an offsides occurred a second earlier. Then at 15:39 Brockport faced a minute-long 5-on-3 (something that could have sunk their season), but they performed admirably, the special teams unit helping limit shots and Wren stopping 3 shots himself.

Scoring began at the 12:31 mark when Nick Panepinto sunk a shot from the home team entrance gate. Potsdam answered immediately when at 11:50 Adam Pace busted loose on a breakaway and beat Wren glove side. That wouldn’t faze Mr. Wren as at 10:23 he used an awesome save to put and end to save fancy skate work by Potsdam (and he was subsequently barreled over). Then at 10:20 he used the shaft of his stick to make another great save.

He fell victim, though, to one of the prettiest goals of the season…at 5:51 Trevor Cope was loping in front of the net when he pocketed a backhand, behind the back goal. Rarely do you see such fancy stick work. Yes, Potsdam is the enemy, put you have to marvel at it…as treasonous as it sounds, I’ll saw that it was an awesome goal.

But, Mike Baxter answered back exactly 2 minutes later when he took advantage of some chaos in front of the net and squared up to the side of a confused McFarland. It was impressive thinking man’s hockey.

Brockport came close to lighting the lamp with 12 seconds left in the period when Adam Shoff went top shelf, but it hit the crossbar, went straight downward and rather than bouncing in, bounced out. So close!

The third saw Brockport put up 3 to Potsdam’s 1. At 16:56 James Cody impressed the fans and scared the dickens out of Potsdam with something he’s done so many times over the past 4 years. He checked a Potsdam forward into the boards and the fellow went airborne. It took him a while to get off the ice, sporting a shoulder injury. Brockport fans will miss the physicality that Cody has brought to the ice. He’s been the rare talent who can both hit and score with excellence.

At 13:02 a streaking Mike Baxter scored again with shot on an open quarter, fed expertly by Marcus Farmer, who I must say has been the most improved player in the second semester, showing deft defensework and conservative playmaking that never becomes a turnover.

At 11:22 Troy Polino showed some serious coordination. As he was knocked to the ice he took a shot while he was nearly horizontal. That wrist shot found its mark. It was one of the more talented Brockport goals of the season and speaks volumes of his hand-eye coordination. I see this kid turning into a 12-goal scorer in the coming years.

Just a few seconds later at 11:09 Potsdam scored. Wren protested, saying the net was off its moorings, but the linesman would hear nothing of it.

Brockport tagged on an insurance goal at 5:14 when Nick Panepinto found the back of the net. I missed it because I was paying more attention to Brendon Rothfuss getting laid out as he assisted on the play. That in itself turned into a comical moment: Upon realizing the Golden Eagles scored, the prone Rothfuss bolted right up and skated to the corner at full speed to celebrate the goal. But, the ref grabbed him and wouldn’t let him go because he though Rothfuss was on a mad charge to get back at the guy who knocked him down. It took a couple of seconds but the ref finally figured out that, “oh, yeah, I guess he does want to celebrate.”

Brockport came out the victor, but we still don’t know what’s up until next week has finally cleared up the playoff picture. As you’ll read in some of the various sources mentioned later in the blog, there are conflicting reports of what the future brings based on tie breakers.

Regardless, it’s been a wild ride this season.

And, it’s been an awesome 4 years, seniors. Thanks for all the great memories, guys. I’ll miss you. The College will miss you. The townfolk will miss you. And, above all, your parents will miss seeing you play organized hockey, something you’ve probably done since 10 years of age. Hopefully next weekend will extend the season a few games more, so you can share more of those fleeting moments and great memories with the parents who have so supported you throughout the years. Good luck next weekend, in the playoffs, and in life.

Box score: