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Ice hockey to face crucial stretch of conference games

by Carson Werner - Staff Writer
Wed, Feb 5th 2020 05:00 pm
Senior Doc Gentzler speaks with an official during Brockport's game at home against Plattsburgh State on Friday, Jan. 24. The Golden Eagles won that game 4-1. The victory over Plattsburgh was their final in what was a 7-game win streak.
Senior Doc Gentzler speaks with an official during Brockport's game at home against Plattsburgh State on Friday, Jan. 24. The Golden Eagles won that game 4-1. The victory over Plattsburgh was their final in what was a 7-game win streak.

With the busiest portion of the season coming to a close, The College at Brockport ice hockey team can conclude its midseason portion of the schedule with a bang. Before January, the Golden Eagles lost four straight games going into winter break. Since they’ve come back, the team has gone 8—1, which included a 7-game win streak that stretched over 15 days. As much as Brockport would like to reflect on its past month of success, the team must shift its focus to the real challenges that loom ahead. 

The team will alternate between home and away games for the rest of the 2019-20 regular season schedule. Beginning at SUNY Cortland on Friday, Feb. 7, Brockport will be tasked with the top five teams in the SUNYAC along with a buffer game against a struggling SUNY Fredonia squad. The stretch will undoubtedly be the toughest part of the season for the Golden Eagles, as they have yet to beat any of the division leaders.

Earlier in the year, Brockport managed to surpass Cortland on a last-second goal from sophomore forward Jordan Renaud. Just two points ahead of the Red Dragons, the Golden Eagles will need a victory over Cortland in order to maintain sole possession of fourth place. 

The following day, second-seeded SUNY Oswego will travel to Tuttle Ice Arena for its second game against Brockport this season. The Lakers possess an 8—2—0 conference record, with their only losses coming against Geneseo and Cortland. They defeated Brockport with four unanswered goals earlier in the year after outshooting them 34-22. 

Depending on how its games between Plattsburgh State and SUNY Potsdam turn out, Fredonia may enter the matchup with Brockport on Friday, Feb. 14, with one SUNYAC victory. In the first meeting between the two sides, the Golden Eagles downed the Blue Devils 4-3, using another late third period goal from Renaud. Despite its last place record of 1—7—2, all but one of Fredonia’s conference losses were by 1-goal margins.

The third meeting between Brockport and Buffalo State University may pose as the biggest game of the year for both sides. As of now, the Bengals sit in third place with 13 points, one more than Brockport. After shutting out Brockport on its home ice and dismantling the Golden Eagles in the Skidmore Thanksgiving Invitational, Buffalo State leads the season series 2-0. With game three, Brockport may be given another chance to take the third seed just in time for the SUNYAC Tournament. 

Brockport’s final game of the regular season will be at home against SUNY Geneseo, the #3 ranked team in Division III, according to the USCHO.com poll. In first place at 8—1—2, the Knights have been dominant against SUNYAC opponents, scoring 51 goals and only conceding 20 throughout 11 games. Geneseo defeated Brockport by a 4-2 score earlier in the campaign, using two third period tallies to scrape out the victory. Unless Geneseo loses three of its next five, Oswego is the only divisional foe that has a reasonable chance at overtaking the top seed. 

To Brockport’s advantage, the Golden Eagles have won eight of their past nine games. The team began its 2020 portion of the schedule with seven straight victories, all against non-conference opponents. Following a loss to Potsdam to snap the streak, Brockport rallied with a 4-2 win over Bryn Athyn College on Saturday, Feb. 1. 

“I think the break played a key role to our 8-game win streak. The season is oftentimes very demanding physically and mentally,” senior forward Doc Gentzler said. “The break allowed guys to get healthy and to get their mind off of hockey for a brief moment. Potsdam was a tough loss for our group, but was a valuable learning experience. There are no easy wins in the SUNYAC and we can’t afford to take anyone lightly.”

Over the nine game span, senior netminder Matthew Schneider found himself between the pipes for seven of them. Schneider collected six wins and made 154 saves on 171 shots to give him a .901 save-percentage. The seasoned veteran is no stranger to SUNYAC play and understands the importance of staying focused on the task that lies ahead.

“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing,” Schneider said. “Working hard and not giving the other team a lot of great looks. For the most part we’ve been able to close games out and we are going to have to keep that going.”

Between the third seed and fifth seed, there are five teams separated by five points. At this point in the year, all SUNYAC members will be concluding their regular seasons with inter-conference play. If Brockport wants to maintain the fourth seed, jump up to third or avoid elimination, the team will need to bring its A-game moving forward.

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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