Sunday, January 1, 2012


College is out for the winter break, the students resting their weary brains. But, there’s no rest for the hockey team. And, why would they want it any other way? I imagine most of them are jonesin’ to get back on the ice, because the Golden Eagles are performing at a high level and scoring goals in bunches, making for an exciting brand of hockey.

The second semester will be a fun one, as the 17th best offense in the nation (3.92 goals per game) will strive to gain a playoff spot and better yet, with their newfound confidence and firepower, the SUNYAC Championship. Brockport ended the first semester having lost only half their games. At 4-6-2 they have a very good chance of dominating league play in the second semester, especially with a home-heavy schedule. With Ian Finnerty (22 points, third in DIII) and James Cody (11 goals, second in DIII) making excellent cases for first-team All-SUNYAC, the sky’s the limit for the team, especially with a supporting cast the likes of Mike Hayward (second in the nation in goals scored by a defenseman) and captain Adam Shoff (on pace for his first 20-point season). Another one to keep an eye on is Steve Sachman, whose maturation at the DIII level (11 points at the halfway point) bodes well for next season when he will be looked at as the go-to guy.

This coming Friday they will host 8th-ranked Neumann in the first of what is 5 games over an 8-day period. This match-up could overload the scoreboard as both teams can light the lamp: Neumann has the fifth most potent offense in DIII (4.75 goals per game). Neumann does have an advantage, though, of being in the middle-of-the-pack defensively, allowing 3.00 goals per game. Neumann is a solid team overall, having the 4th best power play and the 29th best penalty kill.

They are coming off a brilliant game in which they stymied Oswego 3-0 this past Saturday. Neumann may come in on an even bigger emotional high, too (or physical exhaustion, for that matter). Before coming to Brockport they’ll play Penn State outdoors in Phillie on Wednesday night.

Neumann’s leading goal scorer is Jordan Zalba (8 goals) who shares the point lead (14) with 2 others (Cory Park, Mike Rey). 8 guys have 10 or more points, so all their lines contribute. This will be the first time the Golden Eagles have faced such a deep team this season.

Their goaltender, senior Ross McKinnon, is Mr. Consistency with a .908 saves percentage this season, just a smidge off of his career total of .909 on an even 2000 chances. When Neumann won the DIII title a few years ago, I was really impressed by his cool demeanor. It was as if everything was in slow motion for him. But, he can be beat: Don’t overlook the low shots. From what I can remember from the 3 times I’ve seen him, he’s sharp with the high shots, but he can give up the low shots off rebounds that require quick leg reflexes (his success is based more on textbook mechanics than athleticism).

As Brockport proved last January, they can hang with these guys. The Golden Eagles tied Neumann 2-2 on what was Saves For a Cure night. If they can pull off the win, it would be monumental…imagine back-to-back wins against Elmira and Neumann!

The game starts at 7:00 Friday at Tuttle North which will seem so empty without the students in high numbers. See you there!