The Geneseo Ice Knights' first homestand of the season began with a healthy mix of elation and frustration against Hobart College and SUNY Morrisville, respectively.
Facing an opponent ranked in the top 10 in the country for the fourth time in their first five games, the Ice Knights finally prevailed Friday night against the No. 5 Hobart Statesmen behind a powerful performance by sophomore goalie Cory Gershon.
Gershon stopped 39 of 42 shots, including 17 of 18 in a wild third period to preserve the upset for Geneseo.
Playing before a raucous home crowd for the first time this year, the Ice Knights came out flying in the opening minutes. Junior forward Michael Forgione opened the scoring 2 minutes, 38 seconds into the first period with a shorthanded goal, delighting the estimated 2,050 fans in attendance. The crowd was still buzzing when sophomore Stefan Decosse found the back of the net at 3:42 to double the lead.
After Hobart scored to halve Geneseo's advantage, senior Dan Brown took charge.
The left wing gave the Ice Knights a bit of breathing room against the tenacious Statesmen at 1:30 of the second period, stretching the lead to 3-1 off a feed from freshman Kaz Iwamoto. Five minutes later, Brown fired a shot from the slot through a screen, giving Geneseo a three-goal advantage and impressing head coach Christopher Schultz.
"Brownie's two goals were pretty nice - pretty ridiculous, actually - great patience," Schultz said. "He found a way to finish."
The 4-1 lead proved to be just enough to stave off the pesky Hobart club, which battled back to 4-3 thanks to Matthew Wallace's second and third goals of the game - both on the power play.
Penalties continued to dog Geneseo, which in the past few years has earned a reputation - deservedly or undeservedly - as an oft-penalized club. The Ice Knights were whistled for seven penalties against Hobart, including three in a span of 1:57 at the beginning of the third period. The team had just nine total penalties during their trip to Plattsburgh and Potsdam the previous weekend.
"Officiating does matter," Schultz said. "You go up to a rink where the officials don't know you, and it's a different situation. These guys know that we've taken penalties in the past couple years and we're going to have to find our way out of that situation. But a couple of the penalties were good penalties. They saved scoring opportunities. It is what it is."
Gershon played lights-out for the rest of the third period - aided by two would-be goals that were called back by the officials - holding off the Statesmen and earning his first victory of the season.
Gershon and freshman Adrian Rubeniuk began the season alternating starts at goalie, but Schultz hinted that might change after the Hobart game.
"It's going to be hard not to give [Gershon] the start [against Morrisville] because of his performance," Schultz said. "We have a very good goaltending situation. There's a lot of competition in practice, which gives me leverage in terms of who we put on the ice. We're happy with the way it's going right now."
Gershon did indeed earn the start between the pipes against the Mustangs on Saturday, leading the Ice Knights to a 1-0 lead after the first period. The sophomore's hot streak unraveled in the second period, however: Morrisville scored twice in a span of 27 seconds at the beginning of the frame to seize the lead, before ending Gershon's night with a third goal at 14:48.
Geneseo clawed back in the third period to knot the score at 3-3 and send the game to overtime, but Morrisville scored on Rubeniuk with 1:49 remaining in the extra stanza to notch the win and drop Geneseo to 2-4-0 on the season.
The Ice Knights' homestand continues this weekend as Geneseo hosts SUNY Fredonia on Friday at 7 p.m. before facing off against Buffalo State on Saturday at 7 p.m.