Saturday, February 25, 2017

2016-2017 season in review

The 2016-2017 Golden Eagles exceeded expectations

To outsiders, it looked like the Golden Eagles hockey program was in a rebuilding stage heading into the 2016-2017 season after losing the most decorated senior class in the college’s history. At the 2016 graduation ceremonies, the team said “good bye” to a two-time All-American (Chase Nieuwendyk), Brockport’s only 3-time All-SUNYAC pick (blueliner Chris Luker) and the College’s first SUNYAC Defensive Player of the Year (Chad Cummings).

As scary as those losses could have been, players, coaches, and fans of the Golden Eagles knew this year’s model was in far better shape than others might think. Those who were underclassmen in 2015-2016 had matured dramatically on the ice and they had tasted excellence, and knew what was needed going into this season.  

Last year’s squad went 11-11-4. This year’s team matched that win total with an 11-14-1 record.

How special was that? It was only the sixth double digit win total for the program this century.

This is a young team that exceeded the expectations of outsiders yet met the expectations that they had set for themselves. It made for an interesting season, one that saw the Golden Eagles head into the playoffs and entertain fans throughout the year.

Here’s a look at some big performances and big performers:

The last weekend of the first semester: Heading into the always tough North Country road trip, Brockport had a conference record of 2 wins against 5 losses and looked like they were close to being ousted from the playoffs before the second semester even began. Then, fortunes changed. Brockport beat Potsdam 3-2 that Friday. Then, on that Saturday, they did the unprecedented. They beat Plattsburgh at Plattsburgh for the first time in 44 tries! That no doubt led to a celebration worldwide amongst Golden Eagle alumni who had been hoping for the taste of such a victory. 

Shutting out Plattsburgh granted this young man legend status

Matt Schneider: As if the victory at Plattsburgh wasn’t sweet enough, it was a shutout. That, in itself, catapulted freshman goaltender Matt Schneider into folk hero status in the hockey program. Like a modern day Paul Revere or Johnny Appleseed, he’ll always be known as “the guy who shutout the Cardinals at Plattsburgh.” That wasn’t the only highlight of a nice rookie campaign that saw him get a .903 save percentage and a 3.02 goals against average while also securing the “must-wins” that closed out the regular season.    

Connor Hutchins: Schneider wasn’t the only one to have a standout freshman campaign. At the close of the regular season, Connor Hutchins was third in the nation in power play goals with 8 (the leader had 10) among his total 12 goals that were accompanied by 15 assists. He ended up 15th in the country for points-per-game by a freshman this season. His 12 goals were the most for a rookie Golden Eagle since the 1996-1997 season – twenty years!

Aidan Verbeke: Junior captain Aidan Verbeke was also third in the nation in power play goals. He led a power play unit that was the eighth-most efficient in all of DIII with a 25.5% success rate. Verbeke had a great 10-13-23 line and led the team in penalty minutes with 42, which shows the hard, physical edge that he brings to the ice. He led off the ice as well, bringing a calming, intellectual and motivational approach to leadership in the locker room and classroom.

Jake Taylor: Senior Jake Taylor led a team in goals that averaged 3.31 per game, an output that put the team in 32nd place out of 78. His 14 goals all came since Thanksgiving and it seemed for a while that he was lighting the lamp every single game. He was exciting on the ice, because it seemed like he was either finding space or making space at will. It was a nice capstone to a collegiate career that saw him bust into SUNYAC with 10 goals as a freshman.

Tim Kielich: After a monster freshman campaign (12-19-31), Tim Kielich did not suffer a sophomore slump. While his goal total dropped to 3, he was still a playmaker, getting 23 helpers on the season and ranking among the national leaders in that category. Two of his goals came in the decisive last weekend of play when they were needed most. He was such a threat to make things happen that SUNYAC coaches voted him into Third Team All-SUNYAC at the close of the season.

There was no sophomore slump for #11

Dylan Shapiro & Zac Sikich: These two juniors are linked together, having come up at the same time and posting similar stats at each stage of the game. How similar? After 3 seasons together both have averaged exactly .53 points per game! Shapiro had 9 goals this year, while Sikich had 10. Both had 2 game winning goals, both had an empty netter. One difference? Sikich had 2 shorthanded goals this year.

Bryan Carville: The sophomore blueliner who had spent his freshman year at Hobart was an excellent defensive player. He had 10 points, which are solid for a defenseman’s defenseman. He led the team in plus/minus with a +5 and he’s looking like someone who could entertain All-SUNYAC honors next year. He can really hang with the deep lines we’ve seen out of Oswego, Geneseo, and Plattsburgh.

Brian Hurlimann: The junior defenseman had a great year, too, behind the blueline, seeing a plus/minus of +3. He also surprised with some firepower, sporting a 4-5-9 line besting his career totals of 2-1-3. He’s a physical player who makes superstar forwards regret entering his territory. Don’t be surprised if he gets All-SUNYAC looks in his senior year.

The last weekend of the season: Going into the last weekend of regular season play, Brockport faced a must-win of two games in order to make the playoffs. They buried Potsdam that Friday before Plattsburgh came to town. Could Brockport beat Plattsburgh twice in one season?? They did, in dramatic fashion, 8-4. It was one of the most exciting weekends of play in memory and it perfectly encapsulated the fun times that were had this season.

Thank you to the Golden Eagles for a great year….we’re already looking forward to 2017-2018!    

Stylus report on final weekend of regular season play

Earlier this week, Alison Maurer of the Brockport Stylus reported on the dramatic final weekend of regular season play that catapulted Brockport into the playoffs:

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Kielich is 3rd Team SUNYAC

The State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) released their All-Conference selections for ice hockey Thursday afternoon, and Brockport's Tim Kielich was selected onto the Third-Team.

Kielich has been recognized by the conference in each of his first two seasons, as this selection follows a Rookie of the Year selection a season ago.

The sophomore took on a different role this season, acting as a helper for the most part with his 22 assists which ranked sixth in the conference. He did add some scoring as well however, netting three goals, two of which came in the final weekend of the regular-season which the Golden Eagles swept and earned a playoff bid.

In the weekend sweep of Morrisville early in the season, the East Aurora, N.Y. native dished out seven assists in the two games. Those helpers ended up being huge in the landscape of the season, as Morrisville was one of the two teams fighting the Golden Eagles for the final playoff spot.

Brockport's season came to an end Wednesday evening with a quarterfinal loss at Geneseo, but Kielich and the rest of the returners will look to bounce back next season and earn their third straight SUNYAC playoff appearance.

Brockport falls to Geneseo in playoffs

The Brockport ice hockey team dropped their SUNYAC quarterfinal matchup at Geneseo Wednesday evening by a 7-0 final. The team will end the season with a record of 11-14-1, and 7-10-0 in the conference.

The first period of play was a defensive standoff, with Brockport controlling the puck in their offensive zone for a majority of the stanza. Dylan Shapiro nearly got them on the board on a breakaway chance, but was stopped when the Knight goalie made an impressive glove save. Zac Sikich had another great chance on a 2-on-1 opportunity, but rang the puck off the crossbar.

Geneseo broke the tie with less than a minute to go in the period when Stephen Collins scored a power play goal off the faceoff, his first of three on the night.

The Collins goal shifted momentum, as Geneseo was able to come out hot in the second period, scoring three goals in the first 6:22 of the stanza. The Golden Eagle defense settled down after that, as they were able to hold the Knight's scoreless for the remainder of the frame. Despite a few more good scoring chances, Brockport was held off the board, and went into the second intermission trailing 4-0.

The first fifteen minutes of the third was a similar story, as both defensive units held strong and didn't allow any scoring. Trailing 4-0, Brockport was forced to pull goalie Matt Schneider from net with four and a half minutes to play in favor of an extra skater, and the Knights were able to capitalize and bury an empty net goal. They added two more late, both coming on the power play, to bring the score to its final of 7-0.

Despite the final score, Matt Schneider played well in net for the Green and Gold, making 38 saves on the night, including a few sprawling pad saves on wraparound chances.

The Brockort ice hockey team will lose two seniors in Jake Taylor and Rob Hall, each of whom have made significant contributions to the program over their four years donning the green and gold.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ticket info for Round One of the playoffs

Here is the ticket information for Wednesday's (Feb. 22) State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Men's Ice Hockey Tournament Quarterfinal between Geneseo and visiting Brockport...

Any Geneseo student with a valid student ID can pick up one complimentary ticket at the MacVittie Student Union Box Office prior to the game. The box office is open weekdays 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.

All other general public tickets will be available for purchase at the door starting at 6:00 P.M. on Wednesday prior to the game.

SUNYAC Men's Ice Hockey Tournament Ticket Information
Wednesday, Feb. 22
Brockport at Geneseo - 7:00 PM

$5.00 - Adults
$3.00 - Senior Citizens/Children 5-12
Free - Students with valid SUNY ID
Free - Children under 5 years old
Free - RAA Badge holders

Highlights from Potsdam and Plattsburgh games

The Athletics Department produced these highlight videos from the last weekend of the regular season, a weekend chock full of clutch performances to catapult Brockport into the playoffs...

Monday, February 20, 2017

SUNYAC weekly awards belong to Brockport

After a 2-0 weekend that elevated them into the final conference playoff slot, the Brockport Ice Hockey team has swept the State University of New York Athletic Conference weekly awards. Dylan Shapiro was named Ice Hockey Athlete of the Week, Matt Schneider earned Goalie of the Week honors, while Doc Gentzler was awarded Rookie of the Week. This is the first time the Ice Hockey team has been awarded all three weekly awards.

Shapiro led the Brockport team in points in their 2-0 weekend, registering two goals and five assists en route to clinching the final SUNYAC playoff slot. In Saturday's 8-4 win over Plattsburgh, the junior registered two goals and two assists, and was +3 on the night. He played the helper role in Friday nights win over Plattsburgh, dishing out three assists in a game the team also scored eight goals.

Schneider stopped 53 shots over the weekend, registering a .910 save percentage. The freshman played the entirety of both games, allowing just seven goals overall. In the teams 8-4 win over Plattsburgh on Saturday, he recorded 27 saves, helping snap the Cardinals 10 game non-losing streak, and clinching the playoff berth.

Gentzler was a spark for the Golden Eagles in their weekend sweep, netting three goals and assisting in two more. In Saturday night's win over Plattsburgh, Gentzler was the key factor, as his assist was for Brockport's first goal of the night and gave them momentum going into the second period. He then helped the team extend the lead with his two second period goals.

Doc is Brockport's Male Athlete of the Week

Doc Gentzler was a spark for the Golden Eagles in their weekend sweep, netting three goals and assisting in two more. In Saturday night's win over Plattsburgh, Gentzler was the key factor, as his assist was for Brockport's first goal of the night and gave them momentum going into the second period. He then helped the team extend the lead with his two second period goals, earning them a SUNYAC playoff berth.

Shoutout to the freshmen

I'd like to give a special shoutout to the freshmen...

This past weekend was a magical one for Brockport hockey. In what were must-win terms, the Golden Eagles poured on the goals and made it into the playoffs -- and at the same time they completed our program's first ever regular season sweep of Plattsburgh. 

Most freshmen would have caved under that intense pressure. They would have folded, made mistakes, turned the puck over and tried to do too much.

Not our guys. They played with a maturity that belies their "rookie" status. Just look at these performances...

Connor Hutchins netted a hat trick on Friday. He picked up an assist on Saturday.

Doc Gentzler scored a goal Friday, then picked up 2 goals and 2 assists on Saturday.

Matt Schneider got two wins in goal.

Those are huge performances.

Brockport hockey fans are blessed to have those guys this season, and blessed to have them for 3 more. The future is bright.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Brockport completes regular season sweep of Plattsburgh

The Brockport ice hockey (11-13-1, 7-9-0) team completed the season sweep of No. 15 Plattsburgh Saturday afternoon, and with the 8-4 win secured their spot in the SUNYAC playoffs. This is the first time in program history the Golden Eagles have defeated the Cardinals in both regular season matchups.

The two senior members of the ice hockey team, Jake Taylor and Rob Hall, were honored after the game for their contributions to the program throughout their time at Brockport.

Despite the final score, the first period of this contest was a defensive battle, with neither team able to score until the 14:47 mark when Plattsburgh's Jesse Neher was able to break the tie. Just a few minutes later though, David Horan buried his first goal of the season off a beautiful wraparound pass from Doc Gentzler to even things back up, which was the way the teams would head to the first intermission.

The second stanza was when the scoring really started to open up, as the teams combined for eight goals, five of which came from the home team. Dylan Shapiro gave Brockport their first lead of the game just 03:05 into the first when he took a feed from Jake Taylor and wristed it past the Plattsburgh goaltender.

Scoring subsided for about five minutes after that, until the 8:10 mark when Brockport scored three goals in just 0:28 seconds to take a commanding 5-1 lead. Aidan Verbeke had the first goal on the power play from Taylor and Connor Hutchins, before Gentzler and Tim Kielich got into the action, each burying even strength goals.

Gentzler was not finished in the period, as the freshman recorded his third point of the night at the 15:24 mark of the second on the power play off assists from Shapiro and Kielich. The tally put Brockport up 6-4, a lead they would carry into the final stanza.

Horan gave Brockport a bit of insurance midway through the third period when he netted his second of the season and of the game to give the team a 7-4 lead. Trailing by three, Plattsburgh was forced to pull their goaltender with over four minutes remaining in regulation, which allowed Shapiro to pad his stats with an empty net goal which was assisted by Brian Hurlimann.

This is the second straight game the ice hockey team has put up eight goals, and the offensive explosion came at just the right time, as their weekend sweep of Potsdam and Plattsburgh propels them into the final conference playoff slot. They'll now await the results of the games tonight to see who they will face in the 3 vs. 6 matchup Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Reflecting on today's win

Brockport made the playoffs today and in the most spectacular fashion possible – beating Plattsburgh in the regular season finale.

For those of us who have been involved with the team for years as a player, coach, parent or fan (for me, it’s 24 seasons watching the team), the feeling of joy tonight is awesome. Not only because of the dramatic entrance into the playoffs but because of the regular season sweep of Plattsburgh. Earlier this season, Brockport beat the Cardinals at Plattsburgh – for the first time in their 44 year back-and-forth.

All of us have been hoping for years, even decades, that Brockport would slay that dragon. And they did!

I’m happy for the guys and I’m especially happy for Coach Dickinson – I know how much he wanted the playoffs and how badly he’s wanted to beat the Cardinals over the years. He has to be beaming with pride over what the guys did this afternoon – he’s got a great roster of high character guys who have made all of us Golden Eagles equally proud.

Go Golden Eagles!!

Hutchins gets hat trick in "must win" over Potsdam

The ice hockey team put together a dominant performance at a key point in the season on Friday evening, downing Potsdam by a score of 8-3. The victory combined with a Cortland loss slides them into the sixth and final playoff spot in the SUNYAC conference with one game remaining.

Freshman standout Connor Hutchins wasted no time getting Brockport on the board, scoring just 0:21 seconds into the contest off an assist from Aidan Verbeke to give the Golden Eagles early momentum. Doc Gentzler capitalized on that momentum just 0:28 seconds later, taking a pass from David Horan and Bryan Carville to give the squad a 2-0 lead.

The scoring onslaught did not stop there, as Hutchins buried his second of the contest at the 2:30 mark, with assists going to Verbeke and Nick Palumbo. The North Richland Hills, Texas native earned his first career hat trick with Brockport's next tally, using just 11:33 of the first period to net his three goals.

Brian Hurlimann joined in the action at the 13:19 mark, scoring his fourth of the season off of assists from Dylan Shapiro and Tim Kielich. The team finished the first period with five goals, the most they've recorded in a period this season.

Jake Taylor recorded the lone goal of the second stanza, giving Brockport a 6-1 lead when he took a breakaway pass from Chris Pollini and Doc Gentzler and beat the Potsdam goaltender over the shoulder. The goal was the seniors 66th point of his career, as he will play in his 100th collegiate game on senior day tomorrow.

Tim Kielich put Brockport up 7-1 just 01:27 into the third off dishes from Hurlimann and Shapiro, before Zac Sikich capped off the Brockport scoring with a short-handed goal at 09:18. Potsdam was able to add two tally's in the final stanza, bringing the final score to 8-3.

Not to be forgotten was goaltender Matt Schneider, who stopped 26 of the 29 Bear shots he faced for a .897 save percentage.

With the victory, the Golden Eagles now control their own playoff destiny. A win or tie against Plattsburgh tomorrow will allow them to hold onto the final playoff spot, and a Cortland tie or loss will do the same.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The playoff hunt concludes this weekend

The road to the SUNYAC playoffs is never easy. It often seems like entering the postseason goes right down to the wire for the Golden Eagles. This season is no exception. This weekend will decide who’s in or who’s out.

The bracket below shows where Brockport stands going into the last weekend of play. The Golden Eagles are in eighth place and in a battle with Cortland to get the sixth and final playoff spot. Seventh place Morrisville is officially off of Brockport’s radar because the Mustangs have no more games scheduled. Brockport has two this weekend – as does Cortland.

Cortland has two home games. Friday’s affair is against Buffalo State, one of the best teams in the east with one of the best -- if not THE best -- goalies in all of DIII. The Bengals look to take this one. Saturday’s game could go either way as they host Fredonia, a team with a slight edge over Cortland. But it is senior night on home ice, so it wouldn’t be out of the question for Cortland to win, especially if Fredonia rests some of their better talents because they’ll have their position locked up.

So, Cortland should get 2 points this weekend.

What about Brockport?

They also have two home games. Brockport hosts Postdam on Friday, which happens to rank last in the conference with just one SUNYAC win this year. Brockport should take that game. There’s two points.

Saturday’s game will be tough and it’s almost certain, based upon the Cortland/Fredonia observations above, that the Golden Eagles will have to pull off an upset of Plattsburgh (in a rare 4:00 game at Tuttle North). Brockport already did that last semester, blanking the Cardinals at Plattsburgh. But, this is a different team. Plattsburgh has played angry and determined of late and they are 14-8-1. Their coach Bob Emery will be motivated to overcome the embarrassment of being blanked at home, so he will ensure that they have their “A” game. It will be a tough game. But the Golden Eagles are hungry to taste the postseason so expect some fireworks.

It’s nerve-wracking, yes, but this is what big time hockey is all about!!