Monday, December 20, 2010


Gary Efthemis, of WBSU's sports team, wrote this excellent analysis of the first half of the season for the Point After blog....

The Golden Eagles came into the 2010-2011 campaign having previously won 14 games their last two seasons. As it stands right now, Brockport is 1-11-1. With a slew of terrific recruits set to take to the ice, expectations were high coming into the season and their schedule reflected those lofty hopes.

“[It was] not being afraid to play anybody because we thought we’d be a little bit further along off the success of the last couple years,” said head coach Brian Dickinson. “Guys wanna play better competition and our schedule reflects that this year.”

Those out of conference games, which were extremely ambitious, have not turned out in the Golden Eagles’ favor. They lost to Utica, Elmira, Neumann, and Castleton State by a combined score of 21-9.

They are giving up 5 goals per game and scoring only 2.38 on the season. Compare that with last year when they were giving up 3.11 and scoring 3.04.

Special teams have also been a deep concern. Last year their powerplay operated at 23% efficiency and the penalty kill killed off 85.5% of penalties. The numbers are sobering this half of the year. The powerplay is at 13.8% efficiency and the penalty killing at 66.7%.

Two things that can be attributed to a sharp decline in performance are the loss of goalie Todd Sheridan to graduation and assistant coach Mark Digby to Oswego. Sheridan broke 11 goaltending records in his 4 years at Brockport and helped lead the turnaround of the program.

“He certainly was a stabilizing factor in where we were the year before he got here,” said Dickinson. “Todd came in and he was everything and more than what we thought he would give our program. What happened was because of his skill and his ability to stop the puck it gave our guys a little bit more confidence to be able to not play afraid.”

Mark Digby was also a key contributor to the turnaround of the program as Brockport’s only two home playoff games came under his assistance.

“His work ethic was second to none,” said Dickinson. “What I’m finding is he did more than what I even knew he was doing, I never had to ask him to go places. We had a tremendous amount of respect for each other and I think that’s why our coaching relationship bonded as quickly and as well it did.”

With those two gone, it was largely on the shoulders of the 10 freshmen joining the team and new assistant coaches, Chuck Dossier and Phil Roe.

Dossier, a former Golden Eagle player under head coach Brian Dickinson, joins the coaching staff after coaching the Greece Arcadia/Olympia Lightning for 8 years. Last year his team won the regular season championship for the west division. He brings an offensive expertise to the team and as such, commands the offense and the powerplay.

“He’s got that passion and that drive to want to be successful because it’s a reflection on him,” said Dickinson. “He has a passion for the game and he’s a good teacher of the game and he’s definitely learning the intricacies of learning to deal with college-age kids as opposed to high school-aged kids.”

Phil Roe, a former RIT Tiger when they were still in the D-III ranks, brings a defensive specialty to the Golden Eagles. Roe last was an assistant coach at the high school level as well, assisting at nearby Brockport high school.

“Phil played at a high level at RIT, knows the game and brings a wealth of knowledge to our program,” said Dickinson. “He’s done a great job of working with our young defensive corps to this point in the season.”

The Brockport freshman class was supposed to be one of the best in years. Defensemen Sean Wallace and Matt DeLuca, forwards Mike Baxter, Brendan Rothfuss and Bobby Connor and goalie Joe Reagan, lead the class of 2014. Some have lived up to their hype and some have yet to break out into the stars that they were brought in to be.

Bobby Connor is the most prolific on the stat sheet, netting 7 points through the 11 games he has played. Sean Wallace and Patrick Hayden have played a solid brand of defense for Brockport while Matt DeLuca has been the freshman defenseman contributing the most on the scoreboard with two goals. Finally, Joe Reagan has been the only goalie to pick up a win for Brockport this year and managed a shootout win as well (technically counted as a tie).

Even with the lack of success early on, there isn’t a sense of frustration from the young guns.

“We’re getting better as time goes on,” said Rothfuss. “It’s a learning curve… if we get frustrated over it we’re not gonna get anywhere with it.”

The learning curve he speaks of is one that is not apparent to those outside of division III hockey and those that think it’s an inferior level of play.

“It’s a lot faster here, you have to move your feet at all times,” said Rothfuss. “It’s a lot more physical I’ve noticed; you can get away with not finishing your checks in juniors but if you don’t finish your checks now you’re certainly not going to be on the ice.”

Coach Dossier backs up that statement and seems to be on the same page as the freshmen.

“You gotta go through the stepping stones as a new player having been there or done that already but the main thing is, you just have to stick with it,” said Dossier. “Would they all wanna be scoring more and doing more? Sure but the key thing is that they’re working hard.”

Through all the turmoil, turnover, and losing there has been a rock on the ice in these tough times. This rock happens to wear the No. 20 jersey; he is James Cody.

Cody leads the team in goals (7), assists (8), and points (15) and if they kept the stat, he would lead in big hits as well. He led the Golden Eagles in points every year he has been on campus and shows no signs of slowing down.

“He’s definitely a marquee player, if he was playing [at a bigger D-III school] he would be a Division III household name,” said Dickinson. “He’s a dominant player and he’s really a Division I talent right now, he’s evolved into that.”

The only game that Cody has played and been held pointless was Brockport’s only win of the season that came against Cortland. However, he is well aware of the impact that game could have on the second half of the season.

“It was huge,” said Cody. “It gives us a lot [of momentum] and really gets the freshman pumped… we had two score their first ever goals against Cortland and it gets them pumped to help with the win.”

At the end of the season Brockport loses 6 seniors including captain Justin Noble and assistant captain Ray Tremblay. This year the issue isn’t as pressing as in years past to get a slew of freshmen in the door.

“We’re in on some pretty talented kids, we’ve been concentrating on trying to find four forwards because we lose four,” said Dickinson. “We’re trying to still evaluate, ‘do we need to recruit a defenseman, do we need to recruit a couple of righty defensemen to get specific?’ We’re looking for a goaltender though just to come in and be happy to be a No. 3 guy, we’re not looking to push Wren or Reagan who we fully expect to be a two-headed, alternating type situation next year.”

It was unexpected, unwelcome, unpredictable, and almost inconceivable. It was the first half of the Brockport Golden Eagle hockey team’s season. Most importantly, however, it is not insurmountable.