Questions regarding how well the Ice Knights would perform after losing several members of their core line-up were answered Friday Oct. 30 in the season opener when the Ice Knights drew the SUNY Oswego Lakers to a 3-3 tie.
Despite losing leading point scorer forward Tyler Brickler ‘15, defensive captain Jack Caradonna ’15 and one of the most successful goaltenders in the Geneseo hockey program’s history, Nick Horrigan ‘15, the Ice Knights showed that they still had the capability to go against nationally ranked teams. The Ice Knights successfully held their own against Oswego, a team ranked sixth in NCAA Division III hockey in the preseason polls.
In the home ice-opener for Geneseo, Oswego was able to strike first—2:26 into the first period, Oswego scored. The Lakers were also given a power play off of junior defenseman Cam Hampson’s hooking that occurred just before the goal. The Ice Knights’ penalty kill last season was ranked in the top 10 for the entire NCAA. It was made clear that they still had this shorthanded prowess when senior forward Ryan Donnelly was able to find breakaways not once but twice—scoring on the second shorthanded opportunity to tie the score back up at one.
The second period saw the Ice Knights score two goals in rapid succession. Junior forward RJ Burns scored with an amazing self-rebound from lying flat on the ice at seven minutes in. Junior forward Trevor Hills scored off of a quick succession of passes on a power-play at 8:38. Junior forward Alex Botten of Oswego was able to cut down on the lead for Oswego at 12:21 to make the score 3-2 going into the third period.
The Knights played a defensive third period, but with 3:11 left in the game, Oswego was able to tie up the score for the second time to make it 3-3 and force overtime. After 65 total minutes of play, the score was still 3-3 and the Ice Knights came away from their first game of the season tying the nationally ranked team.
Junior Matt Leon was the starting goalie for the Ice Knights and put up an admirable performance, making a career-high 36 saves and ending the night with a .923 save percentage. “This was his first real test going up against a strong opposing team and he did well,” assistant coach Kris Heeres said. “We’re excited to see what more he can bring to the team after tonight and at the same time we’re also excited to see what first-year [goaltender] Devin McDonald can also bring.”
Heeres expressed his optimism about the team’s future play. “We’re going to take the good and bad from this game to help in the upcoming weeks,” he said. “Though we didn’t secure a win tonight, I think we showed that we’re a team that’s ready to compete with very high end teams such as Oswego and [SUNY] Plattsburgh.”
The Ice Knights will faceoff against the SUNY Canton Kangaroos at the Ira S. Wilson Arena on Friday Nov. 6 and Saturday Nov. 7 with the puck dropping at 7 p.m. for both games.