The Ice Knights return from a long road trip to Maine over Thanksgiving break as the champions of the Bowdoin/Colby Face-Off Classic. Defeating the Bowdoin Polar Bears 7-4 and coming back for the overtime win against the Colby White Mules, the Ice Knights went 2-0 on the games, allotting them a 6-1-1 record and propelling them to the No. 4 position in the nation, right where they began the season.
First-year forward Conlan Keenan totaled two goals and an assist against the Polar Bears, while senior forward Trevor Hills added two goals to secure the 7-4 win. Additionally, sophomore goaltender Devin McDonald saved a season-high of 30 shots. Although Geneseo was outshot 34-28 on the contest, they found tremendous strength on the special teams play: converting two of six power play opportunities and killing six of seven.
The following night, the Ice Knights faced off against the White Mules. Junior defenseman Pat Condon tallied two goals, including the tie up point with just 25 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime. Keenan once again came up big for the Ice Knights against Colby, scoring the overtime winner.
McDonald also saved 39 of 42 shots sent his way, beating out his season high, as was recorded the night before in the Face-Off Classic. The victory marked the Ice Knights as the champions of the invitational, a setting they do not necessarily find themselves in too often.
“I don’t think we even thought about this weekend as being [in] a tournament setting” head coach Chris Schultz said. “We played in two different rinks in two different settings, which really is unique to the Bowdoin-Colby Face-Off Classic. We just went into the weekend knowing that these were two really big games against two very talented opponents. Our players are experienced enough to know that these were a shadow of NCAA play.”
Looking ahead, the Ice Knights return to SUNYAC play to close out the semester, but the initial thoughts of the matchup difficulties have changed. At first look in the pre-season, the SUNY Plattsburgh Cardinals and the Buffalo State Bengals looked to be the two tougher opponents as compared to the SUNY Potsdam Bears and the SUNY Fredonia Blue Devils, but this has since changed as the season progressed.
The matches against Fredonia and Buffalo on Friday Dec. 2 and Saturday Dec. 3, respectively, will be tough for the Ice Knights, given that the Cardinals currently find themselves 4-3 on the season, a surprise given their pre-season No. 2 ranking in the SUNYAC, with the Bears trailing them at 2-5-2. On the other side of the ice, however, Fredonia sits at 3-3-1 with the Bengals at 5-2-1.
The Bengals are no strangers to giving the Ice Knights a hard time on the ice, being the only in-conference team to defeat the Ice Knights last season in both regular season matchups. Headed by senior goaltender Mike DeLaVergne, the Ice Knights’offence will certainly be tested against a goaltender who has only allowed six goals in six games so far this season.
Likewise, Fredonia is on the rise with an early second place holding in the SUNYAC standings, and looks to make their first post-season run since the 2014 SUNYAC Tournament.
“Fredonia is going to be a battle,” Schultz said. “They play hard, gritty hockey and try to outwork their opponents every shift. They have improved and have changed their culture; so if we are going to earn two points, we have to outwork them. We have to play blue collar hockey and stick with the process of making decisions on the ice that are best for the team, not the individual.”
The Ice Knights return to the ice on Friday Dec. 2 at the Ira against the Blue Devils with the puck drop at 7. The night also marks a special occasion with the sixth annual Teddy Bear Toss.