Ice Knights battle to maintain high ranks

Sophomore forward Arthur Gordon tries to take the puck from a SUNY Oswego Lakers defenseman, while senior forward Jack Ceglarski prepares to help out. The Knights tied the Lakers in a tense and exciting game at the Ira S. Wilson arena on Jan 21. (Annalee Bainnson/Assoc. Photo Editor)

With playoff season right around the corner and upsets aplenty in the SUNYAC Conference, the No. 6 Knights look to hold onto their 2nd place in the SUNYAC conference. Coming off a strong 5-2 victory over SUNY Brockport on Friday Feb. 3, the Knights seem to have left their brief slump behind them as they prepare for the last two weeks of regular season play.

For their only contest of the weekend, the Ice Knights came out on top against the Brockport Golden Eagles. Despite a slow start, the Knights gathered strength as time went on, surging ahead in the third period with three goals to put Brockport away. 

First-year forward Devin Brink netted his first collegiate hat trick and now sits 8th on the team in points (16) with 11 goals and five assists. Senior forward Stephen Collins and junior defensemen Pat Condon also contributed a goal each in the contest, while the Geneseo goalposts saw another strong performance out of senior goaltender Matt Leon, who stopped 22 of 24 shots.

Though Leon has only seen five games this season with three starts in net, the goaltender has put up an impressive 3-0-0 record with a 2.72 goals allowed average per game. While sophomore goalie Devin McDonald has taken the majority of the team’s goaltending time having played and started 18 games, the past few games have shown the pair to be a reliable duo. 

“To Devin and I, it doesn’t matter who’s in the net at the start of the game,” Leon said. “Whoever starts between the pipes is going to give their all and the guy who’s on the bench has to be ready to support him. Bad games can happen and you have to be ready to go in and play with a clear head and not let the game before that get to you.”

With upsets occurring all over the SUNYAC conference, the Knights look toward the duo to continue a strong performance in the weeks ahead. The conference saw two major upsets shaking up the rankings with the Plattsburgh State Cardinals defeating the No. 2 Oswego Lakers 2-1 in Oswego and the Morrisville Mustangs taking a game from No. 12 Buffalo State 8-2 in Buffalo. 

The Cardinals have quickly become a force to be reckoned with, posting a 7-0-1 record in their last eight games. Although tied with Geneseo in conference points, the Knights currently hold the tiebreaker and have an extra game to play. 

The Cardinals, however, have found their stride and potentially look to be Geneseo’s greatest challenge before the postseason. In the past few weeks, the Cardinals have defeated both the Oswego Lakers and the Buffalo State Bengals, two teams that the Knights have struggled against this season.

Plattsburgh is looking its strongest all season, while the Bengals are looking at the lowest point of theirs. Going 2-2 in their last four games, the Bengals recently took a heavy 8-2 defeat from Morrisville— the first game of the season that the Bengals have allowed more than four goals. They are now squarely two points behind the Knights with the same amount of games left to play, but look to draw even with the Knights at their rematch on Saturday Feb. 11.

Although a long shot, Oswego’s loss to Plattsburgh still provides a chance for Geneseo to clinch 1st seed in the conference; though in order for this to happen, a single loss by the Knights in their next four conference games—or a single win by Oswego in their last two—automatically allows for the Lakers to claim the No. 1 seed and home ice advantage in the SUNYAC Tournament.