Ice Knights surpass expectations, ranked in top 10

The Ice Knights’ last season left a lot to be desired. Finding limited success from the Frozen Four run the previous year, the Ice Knights hung up their skates after the first round SUNYAC Tournament loss to the SUNY Brockport Golden Eagles.

In addition, the graduation of several key players including defensive captain Jack Caradonna ‘15, forward points leader Tyler Brickler ’15 and record breaking goaltender Nick Horrigan ‘15, would point to the Ice Knights undergoing a rebuilding year. According to assistant coach Kris Heeres, even several pre-season polls put the Ice Knights toward the bottom of the SUNYAC standings.

Despite all the uncertainty that surfaced before the season began, it’s more than fair to say that the Ice Knights performance in the first half of the 2015-2016 season has surpassed everyone’s expectations. Right out of the gate, the Ice Knights started with a tie against the then sixth ranked team in the nation: the SUNY Oswego Lakers.

The first weekend not only saw the Ice Knights start with a 0-0-2 record, but it also gave them many ideas and indications of what needed to be worked on for the rest of the season. Since that pair of ties, the Ice Knights have gone 7-1. They dropped their only game to Buffalo State while beating several nationally-ranked teams such as 14th ranked Williams College and the huge upset Saturday Dec. 5 over the top team in the nation: the SUNY Plattsburgh Cardinals.

It would be senior forward David Ripple to put the Ice Knights ahead of the Cardinals 5-4 with only 2:06 left to play, a testament of how several Ice Knights have risen to fill the skates left by last year’s seniors. Ripple has 13 points to his name this season and is one of four players that are already in double-digit points—the other three being the offensive line of first year Anthony Marra with 14, junior Stephen Collins with 16 and junior Trevor Hills with 14. This line in particular has had the most success, combining for 23 goals and nearly averaging two per game. Marra is especially deserving of credit, winning 81 of his 148 face-offs this season, putting him at a 55 percent win-rate.

Perhaps the biggest skates to fill were those of Horrigan, who after 40 games in an Ice Knights’ jersey averaged a .931 save percentage and had a 2.13 goals allowed per game average. While it may be too early to tell if Horrigan’s record will be broken, first year goalie Devin McDonald is certainly giving him a run for his money. Having only played eight games so far this season, McDonald has averaged a .928 save percentage, 1.98 goals allowed average and remains undefeated—a great start.

Looking ahead, the Ice Knights are currently ranked fourth in the SUNYAC, having played fewer games than several other teams above them. They certainly have the potential to clinch one of the top two seeds in the SUNYAC, which would allow them to have a bye in the first round as well as home ice advantage in the playoffs. The Ice Knights were ranked in the top 10 in the nation and look to climb higher as the season progresses.

The last game of the Ice Knights’ first half of the season occurs Friday Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. when they host the Nazareth College Golden Flyers in the Ira S. Wilson arena. The Ice Knights then go on a month break and the second half of their season will start on Jan. 8 against Hobart College.