Win two games. That’s all the Geneseo Ice Knights had to do to grab the SUNYAC regular season title and secure home-ice advantage for the playoffs. And in the final regular-season weekend, that’s exactly what happened against Buffalo State College and SUNY Fredonia.
This is the first conference regular season title for Geneseo since 1990. For perspective, that was four years before Ice Knights head coach Chris Schultz laced up for his first season with the team.
It wasn’t an easy path to the weekend sweep. After two periods of the game against Buffalo State on Feb. 21, the Ice Knights were trailing 2-0 against the Bengals and fans were silent at the thought of first place slipping away. What a difference 10 minutes can make.
With time remaining in regulation, Geneseo scored two power-play goals to force overtime, in which first-year forward Stephen Collins netted the overtime goal, giving Geneseo a 3-2 win.
Earlier on, sophomore forward David Ripple put the Ice Knights on the board and changed the momentum of the game. Senior forward Zachary Vit took a shot, but the puck went wide of the net, ricocheted off the boards and bounced to Ripple, who tallied the first goal.
The Ice Knights still trailed late in the third when a Buffalo State defenseman was called for boarding with 2 minutes and 40 seconds on the clock – one last opportunity to tie the game.
Junior defenseman Jack Caradonna got the puck at the top of the left circle where junior forward Justin Scharfe charged to the back post before he received a pass from Caradonna for an easy tap-in goal for a tie game. At a key point in the game, Caradonna made an NHL play.
Overtime was short-lived, as Collins netted the winner just over 90 seconds into the extra period. The home crowd, after holding silent for most of the first two hours, erupted to celebrate an unlikely Geneseo win and the new life it breathed into its playoff destiny.
The game on Saturday Feb. 22 against Fredonia was senior night, and Geneseo was one win away from clinching first place. Senior forward Garry Childerhose made sure that Geneseo’s clincher was far less dramatic than the night before.
After junior forward Tyler Brickler opened the scoring with his 12th of the season in the opening period, Childerhose scored twice to send the Ice Knights to the locker room with a 3-0 lead. He has been in and out of the lineup the past three months – actually, he’s been in and out his entire career at Geneseo with a knee injury – but is expected to be available for the playoffs.
Brickler added a second tally, and the Ice Knights were able to cap off the regular season with a 6-3 home win.
Sophomore goaltender Nick Horrigan has won six straight and will likely get the start at the Ira Wilson Ice Arena for the SUNYAC semifinal game. Horrigan has a save percentage of .942 over that stretch.
The Ice Knights will face the lowest seed from the winners of the quarterfinal matchups on Wednesday Feb. 26. The fifth-seed SUNY Brockport Golden Eagles will visit the fourth-seed Buffalo State Bengals, while the third-seed SUNY Oswego Lakers will host the sixth-seed SUNY Fredonia Blue Devils.
The puck drops for the SUNYAC semifinal at 7 p.m. on Saturday March 1.