Shaken by seven injured players, the men's hockey team was unable to duplicate last year's 2-0 start, succumbing twice to Neumann last week in Aston, Penn.
In back-to-back road games to start off the season, the Ice Knights were edged by Neumann on Friday, Oct. 19 by a score of 5-4 and the following Saturday, Oct. 20 by a 3-1 score, despite strong efforts from freshman Andrew Rygiel and senior Mathieu Cyr.
Neumann opened the scoring on Friday with goals from junior Mike Hedden and senior Neil Trimm. After two poor periods by Geneseo which saw the Neumann Knights build a healthy 4-1 lead, the Ice Knights stormed back with a goal from senior Trent Cassan. Neumann answered with another goal by Trimm, but Geneseo pressed again and tacked on two more tallies 39 seconds apart from junior Kevin Galan, his second of the game, and Cyr. A last minute effort for the equalizer was stonewalled by the Neumann defense. Despite the loss, Geneseo remained resilient and saw multi-point efforts from five different players: Cassan, freshman Daniel Sullivan, Galan, Cyr and Rygiel.
With the wind out of the Ice Knights' sails, they faltered in Saturday's game, snake-bitten by the All-American Trimm, whose hat trick was enough to outmatch Geneseo. Once again, though, the team got a strong effort from Rygiel, who continued to look promising with the Ice Knights' lone unassisted goal in the third period, giving him three points in two games to lead the team.
Regarding the new crop of first-year players on the team, Ice Knights coach Chris Schultz beamed, "They are all talented players that were heavily recruited by both Division I and Division III teams. They will be a great nucleus to build around for the coming years."
Schultz was also quick to defend his team as a whole despite the losses. "Losing […] to a potential national championship contender on the first weekend of the year with seven injuries and nine new faces isn't the worst thing that can happen," he said.
While Geneseo wasn't completely outplayed for all of the games against Neumann, Schultz will want to address the Ice Knights' special teams performance, which was a major deciding factor in the two games. In 15 power-play opportunities over the course of the two games, the Ice Knights only managed to cash in on two. This was particularly backbreaking in Friday's game, in which Geneseo was handed 10 power plays, including five in the third period when the team was trailing.
The Ice Knights split both games with Neumann last year, bouncing back from a 6-2 loss with a 5-3 win the next day. Their next game is Friday, Oct. 26, when they will take part in a home-and-home series against Morrisville that will complete their three-game road trip to open the season. They last played Morrisville to open the 2006-07 season and picked up a 5-3 win. The team will look to repeat their recent success against them and even up their win percentage.