The Ice Knights have given a lot to the community these past couple of years. The team have hosted multiple player-run fundraisers and have taken an active role in volunteer services. The Ice Knights have even taken time out of their own schedules to skate with Geneseo youth hockey members. Over the past two weeks, however, it was the community’s turn to give back to the team when news was released of a player’s hospitalization.
Sophomore forward Jason Stephanik was involved in a recreational skateboarding accident on Oct. 25, several days before the Ice Knights’ opening weekend. Stephanik was then admitted to Strong Memorial Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit on Oct. 28. According to the GoFundMe page set up by teammate junior forward Trevor Hills, “[Stephanik] suffered a fracture to the back of his skull and his frontal lobe was bleeding. Consequently, he has suffered from periodic seizures and his speech has been gravely affected.”
As of Wednesday Nov. 11, the GoFundMe page has raised over $38,000, blowing past its original goal of $25,000 and succeeding its second goal of $35,000. T-shirts and bracelets were also sold during the first of two games against the SUNY Canton Kangaroos, with all proceeds going toward Stephanik’s medical costs and his family. This amazing outreach from the community was accomplished in just eight days and truly brings to light the strong relationship the Ice Knights have fostered with the Geneseo community.
Rallying in support around their injured teammate, the Ice Knights demonstrated an intensity and team dynamism in their first two games that allowed them to win both matches. The first game saw a large amount of back and forth hockey, as neither team grasped a firm lead for the first two periods, tying at 4-4 by the end of the second period. In the third period, however, the Ice Knights rallied and put up three unanswered goals to surge ahead for the 7-4 win. The line of junior forward Stephen Collins, Hills and first-year forward Anthony Marra were the stars of the night, combining to a total of six goals between the three of them—with Hills acquiring his first hat-trick as an Ice Knight.
The second game saw the Ice Knights getting off to a slower start, falling behind 0-2 after one period, which put them at the largest score deficit so far this season. The second and third periods, however, were Geneseo’s for the taking. The Ice Knights outshot the Kangaroos 30-16 and were able to capitalize twice on seven power-plays, securing the 4-3 victory.
Though the Ice Knights had shaky starts to their games, they have shown to be more than capable in taking the game back under their control in the final period. One could see that the teammates were largely playing for Stephanik—their teamwork and heart would surely make him proud.
The Ice Knights will square off against conference rival SUNY Brockport on Friday Nov. 13 for their only game of the weekend, with the puck dropping at 7 p.m. in the Ira S. Wilson Arena.