Saturday, December 10, 2011


Brockport has been on a hot streak of late, scoring goals in bunches and having gone 3 games without a loss coming into Friday. Talk on campus was of that high-octane attack continuing into the second semester and affording Brockport a playoff slot, despite their early woes. Outsiders scoffed at the thought, thinking Brockport could not beat a premier team.

The Golden Eagles put an end to that talk with a 4-3 overtime win on Friday against sixth-ranked Elmira. The game made a statement: There was not anytime during the game where observers were left saying, “there’s definitely a talent and performance gap between the two teams.” Brockport excelled all game long and was the equal – even the better - of the nationally-ranked team. The Golden Eagles looked like a team that will surely upset the SUNYAC come late-February.

I missed most of the first period, arriving late because it was a real production to take my 13-week old daughter Alexandria to her first hockey game. She’s too young, of course, to realize what was happening and will never remember the game, but I will. The two periods I did see in their entirety were extraordinary hockey and one of my friends who has been attending some of the games with me going back to the mid-90s said it was the best game he’s ever seen at Tuttle North.

The second period started with Elmira ahead 1-0 and the stanza ended with a tie score, after Mike Hayward let loose with yet another thunderous slapshot with 10:54 left in the second. That was Mike’s 5th of the season, good for second place in the nation among all defensemen (the leader has 6).

His power play goal followed a frustrating 2 minute game-within-a-game in which Brockport had a two-man advantage on three consecutive Elmira penalties but couldn’t capitalize (or even come close to it), because Elmira played with a stifling penalty kill that was really top-notch. Over the course of that extended power play fans continuously screamed “take the shot!” The Eagles couldn’t: Elmira was that good. Elmira’s PK unit continued that excellence all night long. In total the Soaring Eagles posted 11 penalties and killed off all but 1. The unit nearly scored with 7:59 left in the second on a shorthanded goal, but Brockport goalie Aaron Green stopped the breakaway with an impressive block.

Green was solid all night long and never really looked like he wasn’t in control. He had excellent positioning throughout, and never overcommitted. One of his best moments occurred with 16:39 left in the third. There were two Elmira forwards right on top of him trying to whack at the puck, but he deflected two shots and certainly prevented an easy goal by keeping them from getting off a good flick of the wrist.

Aaron was aided by some admirable efforts by the defense. The blueliners have taken their share of abuse this season, when in early-November they allowed too many shots on goal. On Friday, the box score showed 30 shots on goal, but the d-men were really top notch. All game long they picked off Elmira passes and collected Elmira rebounds like they were going out of style. One of the best came with 10:19 left in the third when Marcus Farmer grabbed an idle rebound that was just begging for an Elmira one timer. The forwards helped a lot, too, deftly stealing pucks and blocking shots (James Cody and Adam Shoff each blocked one, Adam preventing a short-handed goal).

After Elmira quickly made it 2-1 to start the 3rd on a 5 minute major that really could have killed Brockport, Ian Finnerty considerably lessened the stress of the major (the major had me wringing my hands) with a jaw-dropping shorthanded goal. Ian took off like a rocket after stealing the puck and was absolutely spectacular on the finish…he faked low and Elmira goalie Darren MacDonald went into a split; Ian then snapped his powerful wrists and shot the puck over the netminder. An equally intelligent and athletic goal!

Elmira’s Kevin Willer (well, at least that’s what the box says…credit should have gone to a four-leaf clover) put Elmira ahead 3-2 with 6:22 left in the 3rd. A centering pass from Jesper Strale to Willer was off kilter and the high pass bounced off what appeared to be Willer’s tummy and it went right into the net. It’s been some time since I’ve seen such a good luck goal for any hockey team.

With a minute left Green was pulled and Brockport tried like mad to tie the score. It looked like the game was going to end 3-2 Elmira, but with 7 seconds left (YES, 7 seconds), James Cody added to his impressive legacy with a game-tying goal that showed how strong the young man is. A sudden pass came his way that was slightly too far ahead of him, but James got into an extended crouch and with a position that most of us humans could never take a shot from, he let rip with one heck of a full extension wrist shot that found the back of the net. The crowd erupted in one of the greatest explosions of appreciation that Tuttle has seen in some time.

The cheers quickly repeated themselves in even greater vigor in overtime when Mr. Ian Finnerty won the game less than a minute into the extra period. Ian raced in and again went high on MacDonald, beating him blocker side with a great wrist shot. The crowd went berserk and Ian was buried under his teammates for a game that added yet another star to this magical season of his. The short-handed goal and game-winner give him 22 points at the half-way point and his point total leads the entire nation. The performance was a fitting birthday celebration for Ian whose birthday was Friday!

It’s awesome that when the team’s two superstars (Cody and Finnerty) were needed the most, they produced, scoring just 65 seconds apart and upsetting one of the very best teams in all of DIII.

Even so, this was a team effort. The Golden Eagles preformed well all night long, playing great defense, exerting physicality and making plays.

So, take a break for the holidays and come back in January prepared to see a Golden Eagle unit that has bonded so well on and off the ice that that sky will be the limit. We’ve been watching some great hockey lately and more is sure to follow.


Box score:


Recap from the Sports Information Department....

Senior forward Ian Finnerty (Ardmore, Pa) scored 58 seconds into the overtime session as The College at Brockport Men's Hockey team upset No. 6 Elmira College 4-3 Friday night at Tuttle North Ice Arena. The win gives the team a three-game winning streak and have not lost in its last four games.

Finnerty, who was named SUNYAC Hockey Player of the Week last week after scoring a hat trick against Morrisville State, scored his second goal of the game and his 8th of the season, giving him a State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) leading 22nd point of the season. The goal was Finnerty's first game-winning goal of the year.

James Cody (Schwenksville, PA) assisted on the final goal of the game. Cody scored the game-tying goal in the third period to send the game into overtime. With his two points on the night, Cody now has 100 career points as a Golden Eagle.

"I really don't pay attention much to the goals and assists," said Cody. "My main objective is to win games. It was great to get the points late in the game like what happened tonight."

Elmira started off the scoring 1:13 into the first period. Brockport went scoreless in the first period, but tied up the game on a Mike Hayward (Toronto, ONT) goal at the 9:06 mark in the second period. Hayward's goal came on a powerplay with an assist from Brendon Rothfuss (Webster, NY).

Elmira took the lead in the third period, scoring 1:10 in. Finnerty scored his first goal of the night, a shorthanded goal, just 42 seconds later. Elmira came back with their third goal of the night at the 13:38 mark to pull ahead of the Golden Eagles.

The Golden Eagles kept the fans on edge for the next six minutes, firing at all angles on Elmira goalie Darren McDonald, including Adam Shoff (Port Dover, ONT) who fired four shots in the matter of seconds with two minutes to play. Brockport pulled goalie Aaron Green (Mt. Albert, ONT) at the 19:00 mark to add an extra skater.

Following a faceoff that was won by Shoff, Hayward took two shots on net, both were blocked by Elmira Defenders. Shoff collected the loose puck and dished it off to Cody who fired a rocket from the blue line and found its' way in the back of the net to tie the game with seven seconds remaining.

Brockport wasted no time in the extra session to seal the victory. Cody found a streaking Finnerty skating past the Brockport bench on the fly and ripped a slap shot just inside the blue line. His shot hit the side post and ricocheted in the net to clinch the upset for the Golden Eagles.

"That was the best feeling after the game and in the locker room that I have ever had in my years playing hockey," said Cody. "The fans were going crazy. I can't think of a more exciting celebration."

Cody, who has led Brockport in scoring all three of his seasons as a Golden Eagle, has 10 goals and eight assists on the season. In his last three seasons, Cody has recorded 30, 28, and 24 points respectively.

Green, playing in just his third collegiate game, finished with a season-high 30 saves.