It is clear to all that there is an inherent level of animosity in hockey—wielding sharpened sticks while perched on even sharper blades will do that to any game. There’s an endless encyclopedia of tired old jokes about fights, hockey games and the sort of feelings that players harbor for each other. While those are certainly overplayed, the Ice Knights have found themselves more than a handful of burgeoning rivalries to call their own. Starting with the 3-2 road victory over SUNY Plattsburgh on Jan. 31, the Ice Knights have gone down the list of SUNYAC rivals that have made themselves apparent over the past few seasons.
As the Ice Knights have solidified themselves as one of the better teams in the SUNYAC, other SUNY campuses have taken notice. These tensions make themselves known in subtle ways: Plattsburgh’s highly engaged hockey environment had die-hard fans feeling threatened. A berth into the NCAA Tournament is that much less likely, as Geneseo’s disruption of the traditional order at the top of the SUNYAC makes wins a little harder to come by. The aforementioned victory confirmed to those in attendance that Plattsburgh was reeling from the loss of primary junior goaltender Spencer Finney, allowing SUNY Oswego to take the upper hand in the conference.
At SUNY Brockport earlier this season, Geneseo’s team banner was tucked all the way in the upper corner of the arena, partially obscured by rafters. When queried, Brockport students not just confirmed this as purposeful, but expressed some sort of desire to take the visiting Ice Knights down a notch––usually in light of the immediate proximity of the two universities. The fire is also probably kept alive by a recent string of dominance by the Ice Knights—six straight victories dating back to Dec. 7, 2012—leaving a sour taste in the mouth of Golden Eagle hockey fans. This streak was kept afloat by a 3-0 victory on the back of a record-breaking performance by senior goaltender Nick Horrigan, whose fourth shutout set a single-season record.
Anyone on Geneseo’s campus could probably tell you a joke with SUNY Cortland as the punch line. Justified or not, Geneseo’s relatively easy 5-3 victory on senior night brought them out in spades. Most notably, a Cortland player’s inability to locate his own penalty box drew much enjoyment from the peanut gallery. Those frequenting the anonymous microblogging service Yik Yak implored the offending player to finish his geography degree––and that was merely one of many jabs. Senior goaltender Bryan Haude closed out the game successfully in only his second extended period of ice time this year, a fitting sendoff for the graduating senior.
It took until the contest against Oswego on Saturday Feb. 14 for stark reality to catch up to the Ice Knights, when SUNY Oswego’s top-notch defense, persistent offense, and some penalty trouble stopped Geneseo’s winning streak at three. Interestingly enough, Oswego’s feelings toward the Ice Knights are decidedly cooler than most, and most emotion came from the crowd in a rollercoaster contest. The 2-1 loss also damaged prospects of the Ice Knights attaining an at-large NCAA Tournament bid, which is crucial considering either Oswego or Plattsburgh will be against them in the smaller SUNYAC bracket.
The finale of the regular season is approaching and features two Western New York road dates—SUNY Fredonia on Friday Feb. 20 and Buffalo State University on Saturday Feb. 21.