In any sport, coaches and general managers will always rave about their team’s youth. Youth translates to potential, to growth and to a bright future. In the short-term, however, it rarely translates to wins. For the nationally ranked No. 12 Geneseo Ice Knights, their recent transfers and first-year players are arguably the reason for their 6-2 start to the season, the team’s best in three years.
“The freshmen and transfers have made a dramatic impact for us,” goalie junior Bryan Haude said. “Our defense core is one of the youngest in the SUNYACs, but they’re extremely effective in shutting down the highly skilled forwards in this conference.”
The Ice Knights defense was an area of concern going into the season, losing staples Colin De Jersey ‘13, Blake O’Connor ‘13 and Brandon Angotti ‘13 due to graduation and sophomore Alex Lubczuk, last year’s freshman standout, leaving the program. Instead, this year’s newcomers have solidified the team’s defensive end of the rink and given the Ice Knights depth.
First-year Derek Stahl, last year’s Defensive Player of the Year in the Eastern Junior Hockey League, was expected to step into a similar shutdown for Geneseo this year. He’s been up to the task, playing a significant amount of minutes.
“He makes veteran plays and has adjusted the quickest out of anyone,” head coach Chris Schultz said. “He has a great hockey sense, and the game comes easy to him.”
First-year Cam Hampson has been a revelation on the backend – arguably the Ice Knights’ strongest defenseman through the team’s first eight games.
“He’s been very consistent. He’s very intelligent, he’s been responsible defensively and has a ton of offensive upside,” Schultz said.
Offensive upside was what the Ice Knights were counting on from first-year Matt Solomon, who transferred in from Sacred Heart Unversity. Offense is exactly what he has provided.
Through eight games, Solomon has six points and has provided the heavy shot from the point the Ice Knights lacked on the power plays in the 2012-2013 season. This has freed up scorer senior Zachary Vit as well and given the Ice Knights two strong units. Geneseo is capitalizing on 27 percent of its power plays.
The Ice Knights have been an offensive powerhouse in the SUNYAC thus far, and first-year Stephen Collins is at the center of the conversation.
With 10 points in eight games, Collins is second in team scoring. His impact has been greater than his stats, as he showed with his highlight-reel overtime winner that lifted the Knights over Hobart College. Collins is a spark for the Ice Knights, one who can make something out of nothing.
With less flash, first-year Ryan Stanimir has been a model of consistency with points in six of the Ice Knights’ eight games. First-years Jack Ceglarski and Connor Anthoine have been the team’s best playmakers the past three games and have given Schultz options shuffling the lineup with senior Garry Childerhose out of the lineup until after Christmas due to injury.
“They’ve been a great contribution to our program both as players and teammates,” team captain senior Carson Schell said of the recent additions. “Each new guy has brought a different and unique component to our locker room.”
Yet all these new parts, playing new roles with a new team, have bought into one Geneseo concept: to win now.
And they’re a big reason why Geneseo is winning. Now.