The Geneseo men’s ice hockey team played skillfully to secure a 1-0 victory over SUNY Brockport on Saturday Feb. 17. The Ice Knights executed well on the defensive end and closed out the regular season with an overall record of 17-5-3.
Sophomore forward Tyson Empey scored the lone goal, and leads the team with 19 on the season. Junior goalie Devin McDonald recorded his sixth career shutout—the most in the team’s history. His success was the result of strong individual play and another stellar defensive effort that allowed only 22 shots from the Brockport attack.
The Ice Knights have priotized defense as of late, and it has paid off in the last few weekends of play. The focus on defense stems from a 9-5 loss against the University of New England on Jan. 5.
“When we returned from that trip, we put an emphasis on what wins games in March: defense,” head coach Chris Schultz said.
The hard work has resulted in five straight games allowing 25 shots or less. Success on defense comes from the entire team buying in and playing hard.
“We’ve been really focused on playing good team defense lately,” sophomore forward Andrew Romano said. “We’ve been making sure all the forwards are coming back.”
The team has been strong thus far because they have used their resiliency as a unit and they have been willing to work together on both ends of the ice. This will become even more important with upcoming post-season play.
The biggest obstacle for most teams this time of year is finding the energy to practice and prepare at the same level that has been maintained throughout the regular season.
“The hardest thing this time of year for a coach is to get the players to truly enjoy practice. They just want to play,” Schultz said.
The coaches will look to invigorate the team with a heightened level of preparation that will hopefully result in post-season success.
The Ice Knights will play their first SUNYAC Tournament game at home on Saturday Feb. 24 against Buffalo State. The team’s conference record of 10-3-3 has earned them the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.
The Ice Knights realize that post-season play is an entirely different atmosphere. Both the players and coaches are locked in.
“It’s playoff time. Every game’s a must win now,” Romano said.
The time has finally come for the Ice Knights team to fulfill the lofty goals they set for themselves. Their solid play all year has put them in a good position, and it is now up to them to execute wins.
The regular season contained a few slip-ups, but the team has bounced back in the best possible way from all of them. The coaches and players have reiterated all season long that the difficulties they face in regular season play will only make them stronger once the season is on the line.
The season is finally on the line, and if the team plays within their means, a SUNYAC title could be in their future.
It will not be easy, as the SUNYAC has a lot of talented teams, but the Geneseo Ice Knights have what it takes to come out on top.