An intense media spotlight was cast on the Brockport Golden Eagles – and Todd Sheridan especially – this past week in the lead up to the Saves For a Cure game on Friday. With that much scrutiny it would be time for Brockport to shine.
And they did.
Even though they lost 4-2, they put one hell of a scare into Oswego.
The Oswego Lakers are the number one team in the nation and they came into the game with a 22-1 record and a 21 game unbeaten streak. A force to reckon with, their average scoring margin advantage over the season was almost 3 and two-thirds goals per game. It’s that sort of play that allowed them to bury Brockport 10-1 early in the season.
This time, things were different. In recent weeks the Golden Eagles have been playing some top-notch hockey and it showed in this game. They hung with Oswego the entire game. After one period of play Oswego was up 1-0. After two, they were up only 2-1.
Sporting the black SFAC jerseys (to be auctioned off today), they played hard and well both offensively and defensively in front of a huge crowd of 1,250.
I’ve often said that it’s rare that the goaltenders on the Plattsburghs and Oswegos of the world rarely get tested because of the incredible systems that play in front of them. But on Friday night, Oswego’s Gunn-Taylor had to stop a lot of high-quality shots. He had to make some really top-notch saves with both glove and leg pad.
The Golden Eagles tore through the Oswego defense in ways the Lakers had not seen this season. A lot of it was artistry. Brockport had crisp passing this game and they played some serious takeaway, consistently outworking Oswego for the puck. The skating was top notch, too. Justin Noble and Ray Tremblay each showed-off some really neat dekes that left your jaw dropping.
Offensively, bad luck befell the Eagles on a couple of shots in which the puck bounced off the post at odd angles. They could have easily been goals in Brockport's favor. People always say football is a game of inches. I will argue that hockey is more so as made evident by those exciting moments.
The goals that were scored were delivered by Sean O’Malley. With the senior’s college career in its waning moments it was great to see him deliver such a clutch performance. Both were long distance shots and the second one especially had some serious mustard on it. Oswego’s penalty kill is fourth in the nation, but Brockport’s power play – the best it has ever been at 9th in the nation – put up those two goals. It was the great versus the great and Brockport came out on top.
Defensively, I thought Mike Hayward played his best game of the season for the Golden Eagles. He was arguably the best defenseman of the night (on either team) and he did plenty –along with Tyler Davis and Adam Korol - to keep the Lakers confused and bottled up. They even managed to make Neal Musselwhite – the fastest skater in DIII – look absolutely human. Not once did we have the chance to see his quicksilver ways.
The man of the hour, Todd Sheridan, was on top of his game. He had to stop a lot of hard one-timers and a few screened shots. He showed quick leg reflexes on the low shots and a couple of times he sprawled out to make the extraordinary save while on his back, including one “snow angel” save in which the puck embedded in his armpit only an inch from the line. In total, he stopped 30 shots and the second goal allowed was undoubtedly questionable. The linesmen spent some time debating whether or not it was actually a score before ruling in Oswego’s favor.
The Golden Eagles should take a lot of pride in their performance and a lot of lessons that can be applied in their quest for the SUNY title: If Brockport wins their home playoff game on Tuesday they will be heading to Oswego on Saturday.
Prior to the game I had the privilege of dropping the ceremonial first puck. I would like to thank the team for that honor. The players and coaches are a quality group of guys who make it easy to be a dedicated fan. And I would like to thank those super-fans in the Eagles Nest for the chants while I was out there. You guys rock!
Here’s the athletic department’s recap of the game:
Senior Sean O’Malley (Lakewood, OH) scored a power play goal in the second and third period against nationally ranked #1 SUNY Oswego Friday night but it wasn’t enough as the Lakers came away with the 4-2 victory at the Tuttle North Ice Arena.
Oswego took an early 1-0 lead on the first power-play chance of the game 1:31 into the first period. Neither team put points on the board the rest of the frame as the Lakers held the advantage heading into the second period.
Brockport evened the game at 1-1 when O’Malley notched his eighth goal of the season at 8:19 after connecting with Justin Noble (Georgetown, ONT) and Adam Korol (Hurley, NY). Eight minutes later, the Lakers were back on top 2-1.
Oswego made it a two-goal contest 58 seconds into the third period and extended to a 4-1 lead with 5:49 to play. Brockport kept the pressure up and O’Malley netted his second goal of the night to pull the Golden Eagles within 4-2 with 1:59 left on the clock on a pass from James Cody (Schwenksville, PA). Brockport pulled goalie Todd Sheridan (Edison, NJ) for an extra attacker to try and notch another goal but were unable to find the net. Sheridan finished with 30 saves, including 14 in the third period.
Despite the loss, Brockport clinches fourth place in the State University of New York Athletic Conference as a result of a Potsdam loss to Plattsburgh. The Golden Eagles will host a home playoff game in the first round on Tuesday, February 23.