Geneseo’s favorite time of the year is back—the Geneseo men’s hockey team, the Ice Knights, have returned once again, sending a surge of energy throughout campus.
The Ice Knights kicked off their season with two home victories. In the season opener, they proved themselves the better of the Knights as they defeated the Neumann University Knights 6-1 on Friday Oct. 27.
After less than 24 hours of rest, Geneseo hosted the Nazareth College Golden Flyers on Saturday Oct. 28 and managed a 4-2 win, propelling them to a 2-0 start on the 2017-2018 season.
The Ira S. Wilson Ice Arena was packed for the home opener on Friday as the Pennsylvania based Neumann Knights traveled to face the No. 12 ranked Ice Knights. The first period resulted in a 1-1 score.
Ice Knights sophomore forward Conlan Keenan scored the first goal of the season just after the 12-minute mark. Neumann responded shortly after with a goal of their own. Geneseo managed to score five more unanswered goals in the second and third period leading to their 6-1 victory.
“I thought our first two periods were all right,” assistant coach Kris Heeres said. “There were certainly some nerves. We got a number of new guys in the lineup and it’s the first game in front of a big crowd so we could certainly see that in the first couple of periods. In the third period we settled down and played an up-tempo style, which wore [the Neumann] team down.”
Hockey is a very high contact sport, but the match between Neumann seemed to have a particular physical element to it. Fans in attendance can attest to multiple late hits and aggressive blows—many of which went unnoticed or unaddressed by the referees.
“At the end of the day, these guys work their tails off in the offseason so our guys are in good shape but again, game shape is a different story,” Heeres said, regarding the Ice Knights’ turnaround on Saturday. “We play a high tempo game so guys are ‘go go go’ at all times … but at the end of the day these guys are in top notch shape.”
As Heeres noted, being in shape is different than being in game shape. Although the Ice Knights work tirelessly for the season, the physical punishment they take in the rink isn’t easily erased overnight, especially after more physically rigorous matches such as Friday’s game against Neumann.
“It’s actually very [difficult],” sophomore forward Devin Brink said in regard to playing two games in a single weekend. “This weekend was our first weekend of back to back games. Basically you’ve got to take care of your body—eat the right foods and go to bed at a reasonable time.”
Plenty of in-game attention is also needed to keep the players fresh and reaching a maximum levels of endurance. Geneseo is fortunate enough to have athletic trainer Angelo Zegarelli on standby during all games for mid-game incidents.
The game against Nazareth proved to be a close one. After being tied at the end of the second period, the Ice Knights managed to pull off three goals in the third period. Sophomore forward Tyson Empey scored first in the third period to give the Ice Knights a 2-1 lead.
Sixteen seconds later, Nazareth responded with a goal of their own to once again even out the score. Brink then gave Geneseo the lead with his tie breaking goal and junior defender Duggie Lagrone added an insurance goal to round off the Ice Knights’ second victory of the season with a final score of 4-2.
Practicing every day and working out Mondays and Wednesdays after practice, the Ice Knights are putting in a lot of effort to continue their success and add future victories to their record. Geneseo is set to host Buffalo State College on Friday Nov. 3.u