Ice Knights’ success should spark enthusiasm

On Saturday Feb. 22, the Geneseo Ice Knights did something that hasn’t been done in over 20 years: They won the regular season SUNYAC title and secured home-ice advantage for as long as they endure playoffs. This is huge – and it’s the reason for this entire page dedicated to this event. The Ice Knights have won the conference tournament in the last decade (2004-05, 2005-06), but have never been able to conquer the regular season since before most of us were even conceived.

Those winning teams weren’t as good as this year’s squad, though. Those teams went 18-7-4 and 19-9-2, respectively – both fit for second in the conference. This year’s team, however, touts a 20-5 overall record and 14-5 for the SUNYAC – Geneseo’s first 20-win season since its last regular season title in 1990.

The fact remains that this season is somewhat lacking in seniors and the collegiate experience they bring, which is in no way a knock on them. There are only four seniors on the roster this year compared to last year’s seven, eight in 2011-12 and six in 2010-11. The records of these teams are 17-9-1, 13-12-1 and 16-8-2, respectively.

Lest we forget the man at the helm: Head coach Chris Schultz assumed his position beginning in the 2006-07 season, when the team went 16-10-0. Since then, the team has hovered around a .500 record, never winning more than .700 of the season until this season, going .800.

Given the quality of this season, it’s disappointing to see how many empty seats remain open in the Ira. While Geneseo consistently ranks in the top 10 for Division III athletic attendance, it doesn’t always feel like that.

In their last regular season weekend, the Ice Knights needed two consecutive wins to earn the title, which they did in spectacular fashion. First-year forward Stephen Collins won the game in an overtime thriller on Feb. 21, while the game on Saturday Feb. 22 was won by a three-goal margin. Yet the energy among the fans was lacking.

With the hockey team’s recent achievements, as well as other intercollegiate teams, sports culture should be heightened on Geneseo’s campus. Understandably, it is hard to get up for Division III athletics with its high school feel and Division I athletes gracing the television. Nonetheless, with the lack of options around these parts, Geneseo sporting events provide a pastime beyond anything within a five-mile radius of campus. Or, you can patronize certain establishments on Main Street to supplement the various games offered throughout the year – I know I certainly have.

Sports should be a focal point at any institution, Geneseo included. Sports are something to rally around. Sports provide a daily conversation for students and faculty to bond over. Since stepping into the sports editor position in fall 2013, I have realized how truly kick-ass our school is at sports.

The men’s and women’s basketball teams are headed to the semifinals in the SUNYAC tournament. Our tennis team walked its way through competition in the fall season. The cross-country team consistently competes in nationals. Blue Wave head coach Paul Dotterweich expected his swimmers and divers to win a SUNYAC title even prior to the season – and they did. Last but not least, the women’s lacrosse team was nationally ranked in preseason polls for this upcoming year.

All this being said, the weekend is packed with Geneseo athletics. The men’s and women’s basketball teams travel to SUNY Plattsburgh on Friday Feb. 28 to play in the SUNYAC semifinals. With a win, they will play on Saturday March 1 for the title.

The hockey team will play its semifinal game as well, on Saturday March 1, at the Ira. I will be there, albeit working, but I will be cheering alongside every other fan. I will also be talking about the basketball games that took place the night before. Just an FYI: You should be doing the same.