Ice Knights split two gritty home games versus Neumann

The men's hockey team split its weekend series with Neumann College, winning 3-2 in dramatic style on Friday night before falling 4-3 on Saturday afternoon.

In the final minute of Friday's game, senior co-captain Casey Balog hit junior forward Phil Rose in stride for a two-on-one. Rose then used the last defenseman as a screen to beat Neumann goalie Ross MacKinnon five-hole for the game winner.

The assist for Balog was his third point of the day, after contributing with a goal and an assist in the second period.

The opening goal of the game came at the 6:51 mark of the second period, when Balog found sophomore Michael Forgione high in the slot. Forgione swept a shot to the net that surprised MacKinnon, and beat him stick side to give the Ice Knights the 1-0 lead.

Just under three minutes later, Geneseo doubled their lead when Balog scored with helpers from Rose and sophomore Trevor Elliot.

Geneseo was not able to hold onto the lead for long, as the Ice Knights got into penalty trouble late in the second period.

Neumann cut the lead in half on a two-man advantage with just under four minutes left in the second, then tied the game on another power play with 18 seconds left in the period and finally evened the score at 2-2 going into the final frame.

Geneseo did not allow Neumann to carry any momentum from the second into the third period, dominating most of the play, outshooting Neumann 15-8, and holding on for the win.

The Ice Knights barely seemed to break stride from the huge third period on Friday, controlling play right from the drop of the puck on Saturday.

The youthful line of Forgione, sophomore Andrew Rygiel, and freshman Clint Olson led the Geneseo attack, nagging the Neumann defense with their intimidating physical presence and providing a spark to ignite the large crowd.

It was not long before the rest of the offense followed suit. Just 6:28 into the game, junior forward Sebastian Panetta one-timed home a pass from Balog on the power play to put Geneseo up 1-0.

Despite their early lead, Geneseo was not ready for the hot hand of Neumann forward Marlon Gardner, who scored twice late in the first period - once on a power play - to give Neumann a 2-1 lead at the end of the first.

Geneseo regrouped during first intermission, and came out with new life in the second period. Freshman defenseman Jimmy Powers scored with five minutes remaining, assisted by Balog and Elliot. Then, the Forgione line finally got on the scoresheet when Olson capitalized on a rebound by Rygiel to put Geneseo up 3-2 at the end of two.

Even though Geneseo outplayed Neumann for most of the third period, Neumann evened the score halfway through.

With 1:45 remaining, a shot from the point took a funny bounce off the boards and onto the stick of Gardner, who had an empty net to complete his hat trick and give Neumann the lead.

Despite pulling their goalie late and putting immense pressure on MacKinnon, Geneseo was unable to even the score and lost 4-3.

Geneseo travels to SUNY Morrisville on Friday before returning home Saturday to play Lebanon Valley at 7 p.m.