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Men's hockey eager to start the new season

by Lou Venditti
Tue, Oct 24th 2017 10:00 pm
Defenseman Jake Taylor (above) was one of two seniors to graduate last year.
Defenseman Jake Taylor (above) was one of two seniors to graduate last year.

The College at Brockport men’s hockey team is lacing up its skates for the upcoming season. The Golden Eagles finished 11 — 14 — 1 last season, losing 7–0 to SUNY Geneseo in the opening round of the SUNYAC playoffs. The Golden Eagles are looking to improve on last year, having only lost two seniors and a handful of transfer students.

This year’s team is helped by an influx of freshmen. The team features eight freshmen compared to the six from last year. The lost two seniors in the shuffle in Jake Taylor and Rob Hall. Taylor was third in scoring on the team last season with 24 points. Hall, an assistant captain last season, was signed to the Evansville Thunderbolts of the Southern Professional Hockey League over the summer. 

Captain Aidan Verbeke is returning for his senior year and second as the captain of the Golden Eagles. Verbeke scored 10 goals and added 13 assists last season for 23 points. He’s scored 15 goals with 30 assists for 45 points over 51 games played in his two seasons with Brockport so far. Verbeke finished fourth in scoring on the team last season. 

He’s joined by assistant captains Dylan Shapiro and Connor Hutchins. Shapiro, who is entering his senior season, wore the A last season where he scored nine goals and added 10 assists. Hutchins, a sophomore, led the team in scoring as a freshman last season with 12 goals and 15 assists, totalling 27 points. 

One of the biggest strengths of the team this season is its goaltending. Last season, the Golden Eagles bounced between three goaltenders, headlined by Jake Moore and Matt Schneider. Schneider, then a freshman, got the nod in goal for 16 starts last season, winning six and losing seven with a .903 save percentage and a 3.28 goals allowed average. Moore, then a sophomore, started seven games, winning three and losing four with an .881 save percentage and a 4.12 goals allowed average. 

“Goalie wise, our two returning goalies are healthy right now,” Verbeke said. “Both returning goalies could easily start right now and they were both good last year. I don’t think we have a clear cut number one yet.”

One of the most glaring issues from last season was an inconsistent penalty kill. In 110 penalty kills, opponents converted on 31 for a 28.2 percent power play.

“We’re learning some new systems,” Verbeke said. “We pretty much blew up our penalty kill systems and started from scratch. That’s gonna take time, but the good news is that it comes down to hard work no matter what system you put in.”

The power play wants to stay right where it’s been. Last season’s power play was great, with the Golden Eagles scoring 34 power play goals on 152 power plays for a 22.4 percent power play. 

The Golden Eagles start their season on the road October 28 in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. The team will face off against King’s College— a second year program headed by former Golden Eagle’s assistant coach Stephen Mallaro. Mallaro coached defense and special teams at Brockport for two seasons before being hired at King’s College. King’s College also features some former Brockport players.

“It’s not bad blood, just familiarity,” Verbeke said. “We’ll definitely be fired up about that.”

The Golden Eagles return back to Brockport the next day for a home game against Neumann College, as well as senior day. The team will be honoring eight seniors, including Verbeke, in the yearly tradition. 

“These are two games where, if you can’t get up for both of them, you’re in the wrong sport,” Verbeke said. 

The Golden Eagles men’s hockey team is finally back. They’re playing a back to back series this weekend, one home and one away, and celebrating the seniors that have played with the team during their time here. The Golden Eagles are looking forward from last year as they look to make it back to the SUNYACs and make a name for themselves.

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