Here's an excellent article by Brandon Wood of the Brockport Stylus regarding what the line-up changes have meant for Brockport...
The forward lines and defensive pairings have been the same for the first three non-conference games of the College at Brockport hockey team’s second half of its season. Coincidentally, the Golden Eagles haven’t lost a game since Head Coach Brian Dickinson put that lineup together prior to their victory Thursday, Jan. 9 against Western New England College.
After that overtime win, Brockport (4-8-3 overall) defeated Stonehill College 7-2 the following night and tied No. 9 Utica 2-2 Saturday, Jan. 18. The Golden Eagles scored 29 goals in their first 12 games, a 2.41 goals per game average, while they have 10 goals in their past three, a 3.3 average.
While sophomore Jared Lockhurst and junior Aaron Green have rotated starts at goalie during that time, Dickinson said he has liked the consistency these lines have brought him.
“It was nothing more than trying to find the right combinations from when we came back from break,” Dickinson said. “We had met with all of the players going into the break and let them know that in this stretch run we really wanted to find one lineup and run with that lineup.”
Dickinson said he and the coaching staff wanted the lines to start sitting with each other on the bench as they come off the ice during games to encourage line mates talking to each other.
“By sitting with each other, we thought the guys could be more in tune with what each other is doing in the course of the game,” Dickinson said. “Instead of one guy here, one guy three or four players down on the bench, they can talk about the shift and the upcoming shift and it’s easier for us to communicate with them.”
In this three-game stretch that has been Brockport’s longest unbeaten stretch since the 2011-12 season, the Golden Eagles top forward unit has scored the most even strength goals. Sophomore Chase Nieuwendyk opened the scoring against Utica, while senior Chris Cangro and freshman Jake Taylor each tallied goals in Brockport’s romp against Stonehill.
“Taylor and I played together the whole first semester so we have a feel for where each other is on the ice,” Nieuwendyk said. “Adding Cangro in these last few games in the new year, he’s starting to figure us out and we’re all starting to sync up.”
The Golden Eagles top forward line isn’t the only line to produce since break, as the remainder of the lines have accounted for five goals, eight assists and both game-winning goals at even strength.
Fellow freshmen and second line forwards Andrew Parks and Nick Marinac were familiar with each other prior to this season because they both played their junior hockey with the Trenton Golden Hawks (OJHL).
Against Stonehill, Marinac received the primary assist for Park’s second period game-winning goal. Early in the third period, Parks returned the favor when he set up Marinac’s fifth goal of the season. While they never played on the same line at Trenton, Marinac said knowing Parks beforehand has helped them form chemistry together.
“We’ve seen each other play a lot before,” Marinac said. “He knows my tendencies and I know his and hopefully we can keep working off each other and producing.”
Parks and Marinac are not the only players to join Brockport from Trenton this season. Assistant Coach Nick Unger, head of recruiting for Brockport, has a strong relationship with the program’s Head Coach Jerome Dupont, and was able to bring defenseman Rob Hall and goalie Andrew Winsor in this year’s recruiting class. Nieuwendyk also played his junior hockey with Trenton.
“We’ve already got chemistry between us [from Trenton] and it’s great to have that, but it really doesn’t matter where you come from,” Marinac said. “We’re a great hockey team, we all gel anyways.”
With a 28-man roster and NCAA rules only allowing 21 skaters to dress per side, that puts several players as healthy scratches every game. In these past three, seniors Steve Sachman, Bobby Conner and Sean Wallace have been scratches. Sophomores Kody Vaisanen, Michael Zagari and freshman Ryan Johnson haven’t been in the lineup either.
“All of our healthy scratches could be in our lineup tomorrow if we needed them to,” Dickinson said. “Those guys just have to stay positive and wait for their chance.”
Zagari (four goals, six assists at Brockport) played in all 12 games in the first half of this season. Vaisanen (two goals, four assists at Brockport) played all 25 games last season, along with every game in the first half of the season except for the season opener.
Vaisanen admitted he was disappointed in being a healthy scratch, but said he will keep working hard to get back into the lineup.
“We’re all here to play but at the same time everybody deserves to be out there,” Vaisanen said. “I have to just keep working hard and take advantage of the opportunities when I’m out there.”
Dickinson said he will likely stick with the same lineup as Brockport begins its second half of SUNYAC play at SUNY Morrisville Friday.
“The lines right now will probably stay the same [Friday] unless somebody gets hurt in practice,” Dickinson said. “We’re real happy with what we’ve seen through three games.”