The Geneseo Ice Knights struggled against their SUNYAC competition last season, finishing 6-10-0 and missing the conference playoffs, but with two conference wins under their belts already, it looks as if this year will be much different.
The Ice Knights defeated the Buffalo State Bengals on Friday, 2-1, before routing tournament host Cortland 4-1 on Saturday to win the Challenge.
Although trailing early in Friday's season opener, the Knights fought back to a gritty one-goal victory. Just 2:15 into the game, Geneseo was behind 1-0 after Bengals forward Jason Hill's breakaway goal. Undeterred, the Ice Knights evened the score on a power play in the waning minutes of the first period, when junior forward Sebastian Panetta collected the rebound of a shot from senior co-captain Casey Balog.
Coach Chris Schultz was pleased with Panetta's play over the weekend. "Sebastian has innate leadership abilities," he said. "This weekend he really got after it … if he continues this trend, he will have a big year for us and guys will rally around him."
After Panetta's goal, the score remained 1-1 until junior defenseman Jeff MacPhee ripped a shot past Bengals goalie Zach Grasley at the 10:41 mark of the second period. Senior goalie Jeff Pasemko recorded 19 saves to earn the win.
Saturday's finale against the Cortland Red Dragons was essentially a practice session for the Geneseo special teams. Junior forward Dan Brown opened the scoring at 1:42 of the second period, just seconds after a Geneseo power play expired.
After surrendering a shorthanded Cortland goal at the 7:57 mark, the Ice Knights answered right back with a goal from freshman forward Jonathan Redlick at 8:21, assisted by classmate Stefan Decosse and senior Kevin Galan. Redlick found the net again just minutes later, scoring his second power-play goal of the second period at 18:10.
Schultz was pleased with the performances of Redlick, Decosse and classmate Jimmy Powers on special teams. "Anytime a first year player can come in and have an influence on special teams, it is a major bonus," said Schultz. "They did a good job for the first weekend, but it's a long season and we beat two teams that we expected to beat."
Looking ahead, the Ice Knights play their home opener against Neumann College on Friday at 7 p.m., then again on Saturday at 4 p.m.