Sunday, February 5, 2012


If Friday’s game had to be summed up in one word, it would be goaltending: Oliver Wren and Geneseo’s Cory Gershon waged a war of netminders, and both had stellar performances that resulted in a 2-2 tie. The game was a collection of highlights by the two -- both goalies made some really incredible athletic saves -- as they almost single-handedly kept their respective teams in the game. Wren finished with 38 saves while Gershon had 36.

The first period was a tame match-up as both goalies made 8 saves, Gershon allowing the lone goal when Brendon Rothfuss let rip with a wicked wrist shot that went 5-hole. The quality shots were minimal during the period as both teams did an excellent job of inhibiting full extension on most shots. The best save of the period came with 1:40 left, when Carson Schell was on a fast break and fired point blank at Wren who made an excellent glove save.

The second stanza was much more chaotic and Wren stopped 17 shots and Gershon stopped 11. 4:28 into the period came the period’s only goal, when Geneso’s Zach Vit put one past Wren’s left skate (just 2 minutes earlier I had commented to my friend on how well the Golden Eagles had been keeping Vit in check. Jinx!). Two minutes later, Wren had the save of the game: While on his back, he raised his legs in a scissors position and deflected a for-sure goal with his crotch. As brilliant as that save was, the recovery that followed was just as impressive…in a span of 2 seconds he rolled over went upright and collected himself in time to stop the second shot. That’s some serious reflexes!

Brockport came so close to taking the lead with 7:28 left as a James Cody shot rang off the post. 2 minutes later Brockport put on some serious sustained pressure for a two minute period. Most of the period’s shots came during that flurry, but Gershon was on his game, using a number of rolls and flops to confound the Golden Eagles. He also had some luck on his side for whilst he was prone two other shots (not counted as shots on goal) just missed the top of the net by a mere inch or two.

The third period was exciting as Gershon stopped 14 shots and Wren stopped an even dozen. The period opened with Brockport on the penalty kill and Wren had to be the best penalty killer because Geneso’s top line was cutting through the penalty kill unit with ease. He made 3 consecutive brilliant saves with pad blocks and sprawls, showing deft athleticism. But, less than a minute later, Jonathan Redlick used 3 excellent moves to get past Brockport defenders and then beat Wren.

That was the second power play goal of the game, highlighting Brockport’s Achilles heel – the two-headed monster of penalties and penalty kills – that may be most responsible for the high-scoring team being unable to make the playoffs this year. Brockport had long been one of the least-penalized teams in DIII and they were recognized as such, so other teams knew they had to be at their best on the power play to overcome such few chances. But, this year, Brockport is the 22nd most-penalized team in DIII, good for 18.4 minutes per game – nearly a whole period! The penalty-kill has not been up to the task, ranking nearly dead last in all of DIII at 68th with a 72.4% success rate.
But, I digress…back to the game!

Brockport had a very scary moment with 17:33 left in the 3rd as Colby Spooner was driven face first, full speed into the boards behind the Geneseo net. Luckily, he skated off with just a little help.

5 minutes later Brockport it looked like luck was on Brockport’s side as they had a 5 on 3 advantage. But, unfortunately, they couldn’t capitalize on it as Gershon had some great saves, the PK unit performed well, and bad luck reared its head on occasion…most evident when Marcus Farmer’s blast went off the post. So close!

But, with 2:11 left, amidst another 5 on 3, Mike Hayward scored on a well-crafted play that used James Cody as a decoy. The puck was fed to Hayward who took advantage of the over-committed Geneseo trio and Hayward unleashed a serious slap shot, beating Gershon who had no chance on the play.

Forty seconds later Gershon saved the game for Geneseo as Rothfuss nearly scored his second goal of the game with another wrist shot. This time, though, Gerhson’s glove put an end to the dream of a game-winning goal.

The 5:00 minute overtime period was highlight-free. Brockport put just 1 shot on goal while Geneseo put 3. Geneso knew they had nothing to lose with a tie – unlike Brockport who probably had everything to lose – so they played keep away and really took their time moving the puck and did nothing fancy that might create a turnover. They controlled the clock, especially for the last 2 minutes.

So, where did the 2-2 tied leave Brockport? Potsdam won both of their games this weekend, giving them 12 points, 1 ahead of Geneseo who now control the sixth and last playoff spot. Brockport has 8 points. Brockport and Geneseo both have 3 games remaining and both face the red monster of Plattsburgh. So, count that as a loss for both teams unless a grand upset occurs. That leaves 2 deciding games. Brockport has to win both, and Geneseo has to lose both. That means Brockport may not know if they’ve made the playoffs till the last day of the regular season….given that Geneseo loses to Potsdam next weekend. It’s a nerve wracking conclusion to the season.

Friday’s box score: