Winter brings the cold and snow, but Geneseo knows with it comes the next exciting season of Ice Knights hockey. Coming off last year’s rollercoaster of a season, the Knights look to defend their SUNYAC Championship title. The season kicks off for the Knights on Friday Oct. 28 at 7 p.m., where they face off against the Nazareth Golden Flyers at the Bill Gray’s Regional Iceplex in Rochester.
“I think the schedule is going to challenge us for sure,” head coach Chris Schultz said. “We only have three home games this first semester out of 12. We’ve always been a pretty good road team, so I don’t have a problem with that at all.”
The start of the Knights’ season also brings a fair amount of expectation for the team. Ranking high in preseason polls, the Knights are expected to once again sit atop the SUNYAC, while starting out ranked fifth in the nation, according to United States College Hockey Online.
These high expectations come from last year’s Division III Frozen Four run for the Knights, as well as keeping a large amount of the team’s core. This includes the offensive line of sophomore forward Anthony Marra and senior forwards Stephen Collins and Trevor Hills.
“I think they’ll have a harder season this time around,” Schultz said. “Other teams will start marking them, try to keep them down and be more physical with them. They’ll still put up points, but that’s where I think our depth will come into play; we have other capable lines who will be able to make up the difference and keep pressure on the ice.”
With the graduation of several high scoring seniors in defensemen Matt Solomon and winger David Ripple, however, the Knights look to some of their new recruits to put the points on the board.
“I think that all of the players we brought on will be significant in terms of what they offer our team,” Schulz said. “Right away the names that come to mind for creating offence are [first-year] forwards Andrew Romano from Philadelphia, Conlan Keenan … a Webster native and David Szmyd [from Elmwood Park, N.J.], as well as [first-year defender] Cam Russell [of Royal Oak, Mich.], who is looking as a defenseman to step in for us to get some power play time.”
This year, Schultz also ran into what he referred to as “a very good problem” when discussing leadership on the team.
“There’s a lot of good guys for it, a lot of experienced guys who are able to lead, but for now it’s looking to be [senior forwards] Jack Ceglarski and RJ Burns,” Schultz said.
In reflecting on this year’s SUNYAC Conference, Schultz looks forward to one of the most competitive seasons to date.
“I think Buffalo [State] and [SUNY] Plattsburgh will have strong teams this year. Buffalo had solid recruitment and show a lot of depth, while Plattsburgh has a very young team,” Schultz said. “I think [SUNY] Oswego is going to have a bounce back year as well. I personally think they’re the team to beat for us and had my vote as number one in the preseason. They underachieved last year … but this year they’re a dangerous team and have got some serious weapons.”
The Knights undoubtedly have a challenging season this year, but will focus on playing in front of their loyal home crowd. The first home game takes place Friday Nov. 4, where the Knights host the SUNY Cortland Red Dragons.