Brockport hosts two key SUNYAC games this weekend as the Western New York teams come to Tuttle North Ice Arena.
On Friday, the Golden Eagles host the Buffalo State Bengals. Typically, when people think of a Brockport rivalry, Geneseo comes to mind. I will make the case that that rivalry pales in comparison to Brockport/Buff State. Just look at last season’s games…
In December Brockport beat high-scoring Buffalo State by a score of 3-1. Brockport’s intensely physical play shut down the Bengals, making them look sloppy if not intimidated. That boiled into frustration and 2 fights broke out at mid-game and another one started towards the end (forcing a ref to flatten a Bengal).
In February, Buffalo State hosted Brockport and beat the Golden Eagles 4-1. Carrying over the bad blood from the first game, that was the most violent game I’ve ever seen at the DIII level : 4 ten-minute misconducts, 4 fights, and a disgusting high sticking attack. Even the opposing fans became aggressive with one another.
Expect more of the same this year, as most of Buffalo State’s top players return from last season. Gone is Justin Hill (who led the nation in assists) but remaining are Nick Petriello (He had 45 points in ’08-‘09 and has 7 points already in this young season) and his linemate Joel Sheppard (who had 25 points last year). They are joined by senior D’Arcy Thomas who has 3 goals so far and Tyler Soehner, a solid defenseman who had 23 points last year.
Buffalo State’s biggest strength is its number one line. The highly-skilled trio carried the team last year and the revamped line is doing so again this year. So far, the team is 1-3-1 and the Bengals have scored more than 2 goals only once, most production coming from that core. If Brockport can stop that line, Buffalo State has absolutely no chance. Tending the net for BS is Alan Fritch who has a 4.75 GAA and .874 saves percentage. His numbers belie his skills because he’s had the distinction of facing Hobart twice and Oswego once this year. As a freshman he had a decent record at 6-5-2 with a .909 saves percentage and 3.19 GAA. Coming in at 6’ 3” and 220 he’s a big boy who can really cover the goal.
On Saturday Brockport hosts Fredonia.
When Brockport last played the Blue Devils they lost 5-2 at Fredonia, with Jason Gorrie scoring both goals.
That followed a December match-up that saw the teams tied at 1-1 even after Brockport outshot the Devils 50-29. That game highlighted Fredonia’s best player, Pat Street, who ranks with Todd Sheridan as the top goaltenders in the SUNYAC. Street has had a stellar career with saves percentages of .908, .927, and .914. This season he’s just under .900.
If Brockport can solve Street they’ll win. But not without some trouble. Fredonia’s team is the same as last year…but then again, it’s not. Last season the Blue Devils had a very boring offense and scored 2 or fewer goals in 16 games. Things were so bad their leading goal scorer (Bryan Ross) netted only 9 and their leading point scorer (Jordan Oye) had only 17. This year, despite having basically the same team, they’ve scored goals a plenty. Over the first six games they have averaged 4.8 goals a game and James Muscatello already has 6 of them. Alex Morton is also on fire, averaging 1.5 points per game. It’s amazing the difference an off-season can make. Last year they finished a lowly eighth in the SUNYAC which is shocking by Fredonia’s standards. That forced their hand in making some changes in style of play, changes that are paying off. It should make for a high-scoring affair.
Both games begin at 7:00 and can be heard on WBSU and seen live on fasthockey.com