Ice Knights enter SUNYAC as No. 3 seed

Sophomore forward Arthur Gordon takes a shot on net during a game at the Ira S. Wilson ice arena. The men have earned the No. 3 spot in the SUNYAC Tournament and look to claim another championship title. (Annalee Bainnson/Assoc. Photo Editor)

The No. 10 Ice Knights skated to a 1-1 record on the weekend of Friday Feb. 17 to close out the regular season, an impressive 16-6-3 overall. 

After a close 1-0 loss to the No. 15 SUNY Plattsburgh Cardinals and a bounce-back 8-0 blowout against the SUNY Potsdam Bears, the Ice Knights find themselves in the exact same position as last year, entering the SUNYAC Tournament as the No. 3 seed. 

The game on Friday Feb. 17 saw an impressively strong defensive game between Geneseo and Plattsburgh. The stars of the night for both teams were undoubtedly senior goaltenders Brady Rouleau and Matt Leon. 

Rouleau stopped all 26 shots the Knights sent his way for his first shutout of the season, while Leon stopped 22 of 23 for Geneseo. Both goaltenders put up impressive save after impressive save, but halfway through the second period, junior forward Matt Quilty netted the only goal of the contest in favor of the Cardinals.

“It was a strong game for both teams,” assistant coach Kris Heeres said. “Both teams came in knowing that they were fighting for second seed and it certainly showed. It was a high-level defensive game that starved both offenses for goals, which just goes to show how in control each team is in their own end at this point of the season … [in] not wanting to let up big mistakes because in playoffs it can cost you.”

The following night saw the Ice Knights rebound in impressive fashion with an 8-0 victory over the Potsdam Bears. First-year forward Conlan Keenan netted his second hat-trick of the year and gathered an assist. Senior forward Trevor Hills also contributed a four-point game with two goals and two assists, while senior forward Stephen Collins and senior defenseman Derek Stahl yielded three assists each.

Additionally, Leon put up two solid periods for the Ice Knights with 20 saves, while in 40 minutes senior goaltender Bradley Hawayek saved all 13 sent his way. Geneseo outshot the Bears 48 to 33.

The contest against the Bears also saw recognition for the graduating senior Class of 2017, which included senior forwards Jack Ceglarski, RJ Burns, Connor Anthoine, Hills and Collins; senior defensemen Cam Hampson, Stahl and Matty Lee; and senior goaltenders Leon and Hawayek. The Class of 2017 now holds the highest winning percentage at 69.54 percent with an overall record of 70-27-13 and two trips to the NCAA Frozen Four. 

“They are the most incredible group of players both on and off the ice,” Heeres said. “They’ve been in it for the highs and lows and have been giving it their all the entire way. They will be sorely missed, but at the same time we’re excited to see how successful they can continue to be. Some might choose to play professionally; others want to look into coaching opportunities. We wish them the best in everything.”

With the regular season now done, the SUNYAC playoffs will start. Geneseo hosts SUNY Brockport and SUNY Fredonia travels to Buffalo State on Wednesday Feb. 22. The Ice Knights hold home ice advantage as the No. 3 seed and are the favorites with a 2-0 record against and a higher ranking than the Golden Eagles. 

Fredonia and No. 13 Buffalo, however, looks to be the closer of the two matches on paper. Buffalo State had a stronger overall season, but have fallen into a 6-4 slump in their last 10 in comparison to Fredonia’s 7-3. Add in Fredonia’s 1-0-1 head to head against the Bengals this season and you have a recipe for a potential upset. 

From the winners of these two games, the team with the highest remaining seed will move on to the semifinals at Plattsburgh, while the lowest remaining seed will square off against No. 2 Oswego on Saturday Feb. 25. Puck drops at 7 p.m. for all contests.