Tied for first, Ice Knights look to host SUNYACs

Two road victories over SUNY Oswego on Feb. 14 and SUNY Cortland on Feb. 15 have brought the Ice Knights even closer to clinching the top spot in the SUNYAC along with home ice advantage for the playoffs. Geneseo already beat the Oswego Lakers 7-4 earlier in the season at home. Since then, the Lakers rose to eighth in the nation and faced the No. 12 Ice Knights on Valentine’s Day. Prior to the game, love was not in the air for Geneseo, as sophomore defenseman Nate Brown and first-year winger Connor Anthoine sat out due to injuries.

The Ice Knights hadn’t won in Oswego since 2008 and hadn’t swept a season series against the Lakers since the 2005-2006 season.

An early scare from Oswego first-year Chris Waterstreet put his team up 1-0, but the Ice Knights responded three times before the opening period ended. Senior forward Zachary Vit scored his 18th of the season – a career high – on a Geneseo power play; junior forward Ryan Stanimir scored 23 seconds later, rebounding sophomore defenseman Matt Solomon’s missed shot; and sophomore forward David Ripple netted Geneseo’s third of the period with 45 seconds remaining, sending the Ice Knights into the intermission up 3-1.

Over the next two periods, sophomore goaltender Nick Horrigan withstood a barrage of Laker shots, particularly in the second, when his team was outshot 17-1. Horrigan made 35 saves on the day, leading Geneseo to a 3-2 win.

The following night, the Ice Knights faced Cortland, a team whose most recent win came in the previous semester. The game had the feel of the proverbial trap games Geneseo had fallen victim to against Nazareth College and SUNY Potsdam. To make matters worse, the Ice Knights were without Ripple, senior forward Zach Martin and sophomore forward Devon Rice, in addition to Anthoine and Brown.

The Ice Knights found themselves trailing 2-1 late in the second when junior forward Tyler Brickler ignited the team by stripping a Cortland defenseman and netted the tying goal. Two minutes later, first-year forward Jack Ceglarski found a rebounded shot and put it in the net.

With the wins, Geneseo now sits atop the SUNYAC, tied with SUNY Plattsburgh with 24 points, but the Ice Knights claim the tiebreaker.

Even if the Ice Knights and Plattsburgh win out (tough to do for the Cardinals – they face Oswego on Feb. 22), Geneseo will receive a first-round bye and host the SUNYAC championships.

If the Ice Knights lose, they fall to second place, still receive the bye but have to play for the championship at Plattsburgh. Obviously, the ideal situation is to host the games, which is possible but not guaranteed.

The Ice Knights host the fourth-place Buffalo State College Bengals on Friday Feb. 21 and fifth-place SUNY Fredonia on Saturday Feb. 22. Both games faceoff at 7 p.m.