Ice Knights drop two straight to defending national champions

The Geneseo Ice Knights traveled to Pennsylvania this past weekend and opened their season with two losses at the hands of defending national champion Neumann University, to scores of 6-2 and 2-0.

Geneseo entered the weekend with the same high expectations the Ice Knights have come to be known for. Head coach Chris Schultz said in an e-mail that the team took the ice Friday night fully anticipating to "beat the national championship team."

These expectations were not fulfilled on the ice, however, as the match ended in a 6-2 loss. The Neumann Knights got off to a strong start, scoring on a power play just two minutes into the first period.

Geneseo knotted the score at one in the second period, when sophomore Jonathan Redlick tipped in a shot by fellow sophomore Jake Yard. Neumann then reclaimed a one-goal lead before Yard scored a goal of his own during an extra man opportunity.

Sophomores Stefan Decosse and Danny Scagnelli assisted on the goal, which was Geneseo's last of the match. Neumann dominated the third period, dropping four unanswered goals on the Ice Knights defense, despite sophomore goaltender Cory Gershon's game total of 32 saves.

The Ice Knights had to shake off Friday's loss overnight, as Schultz and the team knew they were facing what Schultz called "the same very good hockey team" on Saturday. Unfortunately for the Ice Knights, Saturday's match ended in a 2-0 defeat.

The game was at a stalemate until 6 minutes, 19 seconds of the third period, when Neumann managed to open up the scoring on a power-play goal. The Ice Knights fought hard to even the score but could not capitalize on any offensive opportunities.

In the final minutes of the match, Geneseo used an extra forward in a desperate effort to tie the game, but instead the strategy worked in Neumann's favor as they scored the insurance goal on an empty net with 1:23 remaining. Freshman goalkeeper Adrian Rubeniuk made his collegiate debut in the loss, making 29 saves in the process.

Schultz noted that more physical play and some improved chemistry, especially in special teams, could have been the difference between a 0-2 road trip and a split to start the season. With the benefit of game footage and two games of experience under their belts, Schultz said that the Ice Knights will try to establish a "more physical brand of hockey" in preparation for future matches.

Now sitting at 0-2 on the season, Geneseo's schedule allows no time for rest. Schultz said he considers the first five opponents of the season to be the best in the country, including Neumann, SUNYAC powerhouse Plattsburgh and Hobart College.

The Ice Knights open up conference play on Friday night against Plattsburgh and take on fellow SUNYAC opponent Potsdam on Saturday.