Friday, October 18, 2019

2019-2020 season preview

Coach Dickinson will have a lot to smile about this year
(Photo Credit: SUNY Brockport, Sam Cherubin)

Last year’s Golden Eagle hockey squad was likely left for dead by most hockey aficionados off-campus at the start of last season. 

The previous May the squad lost 8 players to graduation including 4 of their top 5 scorers. That’s a difficult obstacle to overcome – typically, no one expects a team with 10 freshmen to make any noise.

But, the Golden Eagles did. They made a lot of noise. 

High on character and grit, and imbued with strong leadership from upperclassmen, the team performed beyond the expectations that the rest of the conference had for them. The young squad went 15-9-2, the most wins the program had seen since the 17-8-1 campaign of 1987-1988.  

Along the way there were some “statement” games – like the 1-1 tie at Plattsburgh, never a good place to play; dominating the Castleton Tournament on Thanksgiving weekend; and the beatings of Buffalo State.

The season came to an end, though, in the first round of the playoffs, the young team showing their playoff inexperience to Plattsburgh.

But, with the maturation of those magical freshmen and other players coming into their own, this season looks to be even brighter and there is a legitimate shot at besting the College’s 17-win record and going deep into the playoffs. All the parts are in place.

Matt Schneider has the steely resolve to steal some games for the Golden Eagles
(Photo Credit: SUNY Brockport)

The 2018-2019 Golden Eagles won on the strength of great goaltending and a super-stingy defensive approach that allowed just 24 shots on goal per game and a program-record 2.03 goals per game (13th best in the country).

While Jake Moore has graduated after a record-setting senior year (.925 save percentage, 1.93 GAA, 4 shutouts, all team records) the goalie stable is full at Tuttle North.  Senior Matt Schneider had a stellar 2.37 GAA in 9 games last year and rookie Aidan Curry looks to shine. He has the size (6’2”) and the production (a .920 save percentage in 20 games for the Boston Junior Rangers last year).

The defense is mostly intact, having lost blueliners Bryan Carville and Connar Bass to graduation. Junior Ryan Romeo and sophomore Corey Tam had great seasons last year. Romeo came on hot as a playmaker in the second semester, ending with 17 points and Tam smoothly posted excellent plus/minus stats all season, and he contributed on the power play with 3 such goals. Don’t overlook guys like Casey Winn (a defenseman’s defenseman) and freshman AJ Przystawski, an EHL fan favorite and big man who plays a physical brand of hockey (99 PIM in 27 games last year).
D-man Corey Tam showed great polish and poise as a freshman
(Photo: SUNY Brockport, Sam Cherubin)

The team’s weakness last year may have been the ability to consistently light the lamp. The team was a roller coaster, sometimes pouring the goals on and then going into long lulls where goals were hard to come by. The team scored 2.96 goals per game, 40th best in the country. It’s hoped that they can muster another 12 goals this season, pushing that number to 3.40/game.

It’s not too great of a request, considering the talent is there. 
Connor Hutchins looks to end his NCAA career with a deep playoff run
(Photo: SUNY Brockport, Sam Cherubin)

It all starts with senior playmaker Connor Hutchins who led the team with 26 points last year. He has an eye for finding breakdowns in defenses. He should secure a dozen lamplighters this year. He’ll also be feeding pucks to Doc Gentzler, a tough, scrappy forward who led the team with 9 goals and should improve on that number dramatically. Sophomore Mitchell Parsons showed flashes of brilliance last year, ending the season with 8 goals – his speed is at another level…with a year of NCAA experience behind him, he’ll be able to capitalize on that. And then there’s Jordan Renaud – he has a name that sounds perfect for Canada’s national sport and he has a skill set for it, too. In 22 games for the Golden Eagles as a freshman he had 8 goals. He can make things happen…great vision, hands, and skating. I promise that over the next 3 years he’s destined for a 15+ goal season (or two).   

Brockport has everything they need to succeed. They have the talent and the character. They are a team that won young and is a year smarter and more experienced. The sky’s the limit. This is one of the seasons where you’d better not miss a single home game. This could be one for the ages. Is this the year we raise the SUNYAC banner?