With the Christmas break upon us, it’s time to reflect on the semester that was for some of the hockey players. The team has been competitive due to the contributions of a lot of players. But, allow me to reflect on just a few of the strong performers.
Let’s start with some of the forwards…
As in seasons past, the team’s success hinges on that of Chase Nieuwendyk. He’s following up his All-American season with one that is certainly worth such consideration again. He already has 9 goals on the season, which is good for 6th in the nation. Among those are 2 power play goals and a short-handed goal. There have been some times when he’s truly carried the team on his back (Morrisville and Potsdam) and his hunger for excellence, and the knowledge that his college career ends next semester, should lead the team deep into the playoffs.
Among the biggest surprises in the line-up is freshman Tim Kielich, who is a special talent. He has a point in 7 of the last 8 games and comes into the second semester with 5 goals and 5 assists. Now that he’s eating up some minutes, he might surpass 24 points on the season. Even though he’s far surpassed his scoring pace from the Juniors, don’t look at him as a flash-in-the-pan: The 6’, 175-pounder is a welcome addition to the line-up who will give Brockport fans another 3 seasons of excitement. He’s crafty, he doesn’t make mistakes, and he’s an excellent two-way player. I really like his upside.
Another youngster I like is sophomore Ryan Kangas. He has showed that his exceptional freshman season was not a fluke. He hustles, is trustworthy in defensive situations, and has excellent ice vision, as well as good hands. He has 12 points on the season, a point in 8 games and 4 multi-point games. Don’t be surprised if the kid is All-SUNYAC in his junior year.
Aidan Verbeke has been top notch, too. He’s a playmaker with a 1-8-9 line that should equate to a 20-point season when it’s all said and done. Despite those strong numbers, don’t overlook what else he does, the things that don’t show in the box score. He has 4 blocked shots on the season and is a hustler adept at stealing pucks and breaking up passes. He doesn’t quit.
Now, let’s look at the d-men…
Chris Luker has been playing like…well, Chris Luker. Once again he’s been a playmaker and his .80 points per game have him in the top twenty nationally amongst blueliners. He has but 1 goal, but he’s had some chances, and some very good ones, and those blasts will find their way to the back of the net in the second semester. The senior’s last semester should put a nice capstone on what has been one of the finest – if not the finest -- careers among Brockport defensemen.
I really like the high level that Chad Cummings has been performing at this year. Earlier in the semester, I was commenting on how strong his motor was running this season – he's flying on the ice and looks even bigger and stronger than in the past (which is saying a lot for somebody already built that way). He is covering territory well and really holding his own against the best players in the country. Luckily, the rest of the fans and the Conference have caught on to his special season, thanks his 3-goal breakout weekend heading into Thanksgiving. He might find it difficult to maintain his current point pace (it’s not his style of play), but he doesn’t need numbers to be considered one of best in SUNYAC. He’s a defenseman’s defenseman who truly warrants All-SUNYAC consideration this year.