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Through the five-hole: Golden Eagles make it to the SUNYAC playoffs

Tue, Feb 21st 2017 11:00 pm
Photos courtesy of Brockport Athletic Communications via Flickr
Photos courtesy of Brockport Athletic Communications via Flickr

 This past weekend, the men's ice hockey team clinched its spot in the SUNYAC playoffs with high-scoring wins against SUNY Potsdam Bears and SUNY Plattsburgh Cardinals.

The College at Brockport Golden Eagles swept the weekend, first with an 8 - 3 win against the Potsdam Bears on Friday, and an 8 - 4 win against the formidable Plattsburgh Cardinals on Saturday. Both wins were crucial for the team.

Going into the weekend, the SUNY Cortland Red Dragons and Brockport were fighting for the last available playoff spot. The Red Dragons had 11 points and Brockport had 10. That meant if Brockport lost either game, they were toast. However, the team had its strongest weekend of the year, crushing not only Potsdam and Plattsburgh, but Cortland as well, indirectly.

This wasn't completely unprecedented either, given that Brockport swept the Potsdam/Plattsburgh weekend back in December. The team closed out the fall semester with its annual road trip to both colleges and managed to take both wins there. Freshman goalie Matt Schneider even shut down the Cardinals on their turf, something Brockport had not managed to do in the history of the SUNYACs.

With 16 goals in a single weekend, it is not a stretch to say the entire arena was filled with positive energy for both games. Fans were there twice in less than 24 hours and brought an extra bit of "oomph" that pushed the Golden Eagles to victory.

The weekend began with not so much as a bang, but an explosion right out of the gate. Only 21 seconds into the game, freshman Connor Hutchins had his first goal of the night, assisted by captain Aidan Verbeke. 28 seconds later, Doc Gentzler had his first of the night as well. Less than a minute in, the Golden Eagles were ahead by two.

At this point in the game, Potsdam made its first goalie change — less than one minute in. Not that it mattered, because Potsdam took a penalty, allowing Hutchins to get his second of the night. Scoring calmed down until Potsdam answered with one of its own about halfway through the period.

A little over a minute and a half later, Potsdam made an ill-timed line change and Hutchins scored once more for the Golden Eagles, with a rare assist from goalie Matt Schneider. All three of his goals were in the first period, making it the first natural hat trick for the Golden Eagles for the year.

"We came into a must-win game, knew we had to get on the board right away," Hutchins said. "It felt good to get going, and I'm glad I came away with three."

The score leading into the second period was an astounding 5-1 in favor of the Green and Gold.

The third period also started out strong for the green and gold, with a power play goal from sophomore Tim Kielich at the 1:27 mark. The Bears answered with a power play goal of their own at the six-minute mark, but junior Zac Sikich answered with a shorthanded goal just a few moments later. Potsdam managed one more power play goal, but Brockport still came out with eight .goals, a win and momentum to boot.

They took that momentum into the early 4 p.m. game against Plattsburgh the next day. Although the Cardinals took the first goal at 14:47 in the first period, junior Dave Horan answered only a few minutes later with his first of the season.

Plattsburgh answered at 10:45, and followed up at 13:36, bringing the team's total up to three, but Gentzler turned it all around, pulling a roughing penalty from the Cardinals and scoring his second on the power play, living up to his reputation as a "pest," someone who is known for getting penalties from the other team.

"I don't know, I just kinda started [being a "pest"] this year," Gentzler said. "Wasn't something I did much in juniors."

Horan's two goals indicated a possibility  that he can be force and  earn some senior year stardom. The forward was recently moved up to the third line and had the chance to showcase his skills going into the playoffs, as well as the 2017-2018 season.

Senior night celebrations were short, as there were only two men to be honored: Robbie Hall and Taylor, No. 2 and No. 22 respectively. Sometimes a senior night has some sadness involved, but this year was all smiles with Brockport making it into the SUNYACs.

The Golden Eagles first playoff game is Wednesday, Feb. 22, on rival SUNY Geneseo ice at 7 p.m.



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Taken by Vinny Croce:
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