There were many questions whirling around the Ira S. Wilson Ice Arena before the Ice Knights’ first-round playoff matchup against SUNY Potsdam on Wednesday Feb. 20.
Geneseo fell in overtime to the Bears just 11 days prior, then lost senior goalie Adrian Rubeniuk to a lower body injury in its 6-2 regular-season finale win over Morrisville State College.
In the quarterfinals game, all concerns were put to rest by the midway point of the second period, however, as the Ice Knights exploded with five goals in the middle frame and shut out the Bears on home ice 9-0.
Sophomore goalie Bryan Haude posted his first career playoff shutout and third overall shutout of the season.
“The boys came to play tonight,” Haude said after making 22 saves in the win. “Everyone contributed and made the game very easy for me. Guys blocked shots, got pucks out and I was able to see every shot.”
Despite the lopsided final score, the teams skated to a scoreless first period with both teams sticking to the conservative, dump-and-chase style one would expect in a playoff game. Geneseo did not generate much in the first period, but they held the Bears to only three shots. Potsdam took one shot on goal after the first three minutes, a half-ice drive by junior Adam Place. Place took three shots against Haude, who robbed him twice with his glove hand.
Geneseo shut down the Bears all night, especially the line including third team All-SUNYAC forward junior Mike Arnold, Place and sophomore Trevor Cope, holding the line to eight shots.
Other All-SUNYAC honors include Geneseo defenseman sophomore Jack Caradonna as a member of the first team and forward junior Zachary Vit on the second team.
After the slow first, Geneseo came strong out of the gate scoring five goals in the first 18 minutes of the second. During a four-on-four play, first-year Alex Lubczuk swung around the front of the net, outwaited first-year goalie Austin Keiser and threw in a top-shelf goal, giving the Ice Knights a 1-0 lead.
First-year David Ripple extended the lead five and a half minutes later on the power play when his centering attempt hit off the foot of Potsdam’s sophomore Erick Ware and trickled through Keiser. Brickler’s wraparound goal and first-year Ryan Donnelly’s wrist shot gave the Ice Knights a 4-0 lead at 10 minutes, 40 seconds into the second period and chased Keiser from the net.
Junior Shane Talarico replaced Keiser, but did not fare better, giving up the Ice Knights fifth goal to Vit on a one-time blast from the point – Geneseo’s second power-play goal.
Arnold’s crosschecking penalty at the end of the second gave Geneseo a two-man advantage to start the third. First-year Nate Brown capitalized on the opportunity when he found himself alone in the slot for a wrister that beat Talarico over the blocker. Senior Corbin Rosmarin added the Ice Knights’ fourth power-play goal of the night five minutes later.
Junior Carson Schell and Ripple’s second of the night rounded out the scoring for the Ice Knights, who will travel to SUNY Plattsburgh for the semifinal at 7 p.m on Saturday Feb. 23.
The Ice Knights fell to the Cardinals on Feb. 8 and they will seek to make the same adjustments for that contest that they made to bounce back against the scrappy Potsdam team.
“Plattsburgh hasn’t changed their brand of hockey in 20 years and it’s a brand that wins,” Geneseo head coach Chris Schultz said. “We just need to find a way to capitalize on our opportunities when we do get them and that’s what that game will be all about.”