The Geneseo Ice Knights continue to display promise entering this weekend of play.
The Ice Knights showed off their talent in front of the home crowd on Friday Nov. 3 against the Buffalo State College Bengals, securing a 5-2 victory. Geneseo was 3/8 on power plays—a good indicator of offensive success—and managed to out shoot the Bengals 35-13.
Perhaps not as easy to identify was the great defense Geneseo played.
“We were really suffocating them on the ice and not allowing them to make plays,” assistant coach Kris Heeres said. “We followed our game plan to a T and we are very happy with the result.”
The team seemed very satisfied with their forecheck, a defensive play made in the offensive zone that applies pressure in hopes of turning over the puck.
“I thought our forecheck was really good,” sophomore forward Tyson Empey said. “We were playing with a lot of speed, we were fast getting in there and causing a lot of turnovers, which in turn led to a lot of shots offensively which is great. I thought [this was the] first game we played defense really well.”
Empey, who leads the Ice Knights in goals (5) on the season, managed to score twice this past weekend. Geneseo’s defense allowed no goals during a nearly two-minute stretch of time in which the Bengals had a 5-3 skater ratio advantage.
It may not come as a surprise, but home rink advantage goes a long way. From the high energy to the familiarity of the actual ice and the support from the Geneseo fans, playing in front of the home crowd means a lot. Heeres described playing in the Ira S. Wilson Ice Arena as “paramount” to the team’s success.
“We have one of the best atmospheres in Division III hockey. You look at the Blue Crew tonight, you look at the pep band, you look at the blend between not only the campus community but the [Geneseo] community itself. I think it’s a special place to play,” Heeres said.
The players can also attest to the impact of playing at home.
“Hockey is all about momentum swings and how you can use that momentum in your favor at random moments,” senior defender Pat Condon said. “By having the Blue Crew and [the student body] cheering for us, it really ups the ante of what’s expected of us and it puts good pressure on us to perform well out there.”
The Ice Knights needed some of that positive energy from the college’s ice arena at SUNY Fredonia on Saturday Nov. 4. After managing a 3-1 lead at the end of the first period, the Ice Knights were unable to respond to any of the three goals Fredonia put up in later periods, leading to a 4-3 loss.
Fredonia, a team that Heeres described as “dangerous” and “on the rise,” pushed past the Ice Knights defense. After only giving up 13 shots the night before, Geneseo struggled to maintain that level of defensive play against the Blue Devils.
“[The defense] is something we got away from on Saturday night, which was one of the main reasons we ended up losing that game,” Empey said. “It’s something we really need to focus on this week and get back for next weekend moving into SUNYAC play against [SUNY] Potsdam and [SUNY] Plattsburgh.”
After a weekend resulting in one win, one loss and a total of eight goals, Geneseo will host two very competitive SUNYAC teams this weekend—the 3-0-1 Potsdam Bears on Friday Nov. 10 and the 2-1 Plattsburgh Cardinals on Saturday Nov. 11.u