Ice Knights demonstrate strong start, remain undefeated through first two weekends of play

Junior defender Tanner Salsberry fends off an opponent in the team’s game against Buffalo State on Saturday Nov. 3. The game ended in a 4-4 tie after three full periods of play and five minutes of overtime (Josie Kwan/assoc. photo editor).

The Geneseo Ice Knights opened up SUNYAC play over the weekend with a Friday Nov. 2 matchup at SUNY Fredonia and a Saturday Nov. 3 matchup at home against Buffalo State. Geneseo entered the weekend ranked no. 3 in the nation with a 2-0 record. 

First-year forward Brendan Miller got a good taste of the Geneseo-Fredonia rivalry on Friday, learning from his teammates and coaches just how much of a challenge a game against Fredonia is. 

“Fredonia is a tough opponent, especially on the road … they play a gritty type of game,” Miller said.

 Miller wasted no time putting his mark on the SUNYAC rivalry, notching one assist on the team’s six total goals as Geneseo cruised to a 6-1 victory. 

It was the Knights’ first road win against Fredonia in two years and their third consecutive win against the Blue Devils after last year’s 4-1 regular season win and 7-1 SUNYAC championship win.

Geneseo continued their offensive success from last weekend. Their six goals brought their season total to 24. Junior forward Tyson Empey continued his success with his fifth and sixth goals of the season. 

Senior goaltender Devin McDonald let up his first goal of the year in the third period, but his 23 saves were good enough to propel him to his 50th career win, the only goalie in Geneseo history to reach that mark. 

Goals also came from junior forward Conlon Keenan, first-year forward Ryan Burnett, senior defenseman Mitch Ferguson and junior defenseman Cam Russell. 

“A trademark six goal win gives the team a lot of confidence,” Empey said. He was glad to see his teammates “come out flying” and start the season in the best way possible. 

The next night, the Knights had their home opener in the Ira S. Wilson Ice Arena. Geneseo gstarted slow. Already down 2-1 in the second period, the Knights surrendered a third goal to the Buffalo State Bengals on the power play. Coming into the game, the Knights’ penalty kill was a glistening 16-for-16. 

Empey, who has played on the penalty kill all season so far, felt the penalty kill group did a good job despite the goal. They sacrificed their bodies a few times, blocking shots and disrupting passing lanes. The puck, however, bounced around to sophomore forward Sam Maddox of Buffalo State who was just, “in the right place at the right time” according to Empey. 

Now down 3-1, the Knights had their backs against the wall. Facing their first deficit all season, the Knights still had faith in themselves to comeback, according to Miller. 

The Knights had to “dig a little deeper” to mount the comeback, and they did. Junior defender Will Campion scored off an assist from senior forward Anthony Marra, 11 seconds after the Knights conceded their third goal. With a few seconds left in the second period, junior forward David Szmyd ripped a shot just in front of the blue line to tie the game at three apiece. 

The Bengals retook the lead a minute and a half into the third period, going up 4-3. With just over half of the third period remaining, the Knights drew a facemask penalty from Buffalo State. 

Bengals forward Hugo Petit was ejected for a 10-minute game misconduct and the Knights went on a five-minute power play. Two minutes later, the Knights took advantage of the power play and Ferguson scored from the top of the slot to tie the game at four. 

The game remained tied through the final minutes and through the entirety of the five-minute overtime period, bringing their  record to 3-0-1. Geneseo amassed 45 shots compared to the Bengals’ 25, but the Bengals made the most of their shots on McDonald. 

Despite the four goals, McDonald played well. 

“The game could have gone either way,” Empey said. 

McDonald made some huge saves to keep the Knights in position to tie the game up, including a magical kick save on a Buffalo State breakaway late in the second period. 

Empey credits McDonald for giving his team confidence knowing they have him as a “last resort.” 

The Knights look to get back in the win column at SUNY Plattsburgh and SUNY Potsdam this upcoming weekend on Friday Nov. 9 and Saturday Nov. 10, respectively.