There are only eight more days until Oct. 27, when the Geneseo Ice Knights will have their first home game. With the return of our beloved Ice Knights, any stress, which often comes at this point of the semester, will be relieved—at least during the games.
The Ice Knights will reignite the vibrant Geneseo community then, as they host the Knights of Neumann University. After a successful regular season last year and an intense playoff push, the Ice Knights aim to have a similar experience this season.
Although Geneseo has the capabilities of putting together an impressive record this year, the 2017–18 Ice Knights are immensely different than last season’s team.
“We lost 10 players from last year,” head coach Chris Schultz said. “It was a very significant class that we lost. They logged a lot of minutes and had a lot of success.”
As such, Geneseo was very active in the recruiting process this offseason, adding three former Division I players to the roster. Needless to say, the Ice Knights are starting off with a talented new squad.
These new players include sophomore forward Erik Pederson from Michigan Technological University, junior defenseman Duggie Lagrone from Colorado College and sophomore defenseman Tanner Salsberry from Bentley University.
“The other seven, it’s a pretty good mix of what we need to fill in the voids left from last year,” Schultz said regarding the other new recruits.
Despite the season starting up soon, the coaching staff could not work with the players until Monday Oct. 16. The rule is one of many implemented by the NCAA, which it says is to help protect players.
It’s common for teams across the country to work with strength and conditioning coaches throughout the year, allowing the team to unify and get professional input about a crucial component of the sport. The Ice Knights, however, do not have designated strength and conditioning coaches, putting them at a disadvantage. Although the Ice Knights are perpetually atop the SUNYAC standings, the team could benefit from specialized endurance plans.
“As the season goes on, the boys get tired,” Schultz said. “This year we are going to make sure we are constantly evaluating and reflecting on games and seeing where our conditioning is at.”
During the playoffs last season, the Ice Knights fell victim to poor conditioning. After beating SUNY Brockport 7-0 at the SUNYAC Tournament Quarterfinals, the Ice Knights took the long bus ride to face the highly ranked SUNY Plattsburgh Cardinals. The “perfect storm,” as coach Schultz put it, worked against Geneseo.
“I am pretty adamant about why we lost that game in particular—[it was] the fact that our conditioning was not where it needed to be at that time of year,” Schultz said of the 5-2 loss to Plattsburgh.
Geneseo may have fallen short in last year’s post-season endeavors, but that has not impacted the preseason predictions for the team; the Ice Knights are currently ranked No. 1 in the SUNYAC preseason rankings.
“We don’t put too much emphasis on that [the preseason polls],” Schultz explained. “It will be a wide open league if you ask me. Any team can win on any given night.”
Schultz cited teams like SUNY Brockport and SUNY Fredonia that are on the rise. Nonetheless, the Ice Knights should remain very competitive against the evenly matched teams this year, allowing for another entertaining season of ice hockey at Geneseo.