The Geneseo Ice Knights were given the opportunity to accomplish multiple potentially exciting achievements on Saturday March 2. They squared off against their rivals, SUNY Oswego, in the SUNYAC Championship game and won.
With the win, the Knights secured back-to-back SUNYAC titles and their sixth title overall. The win also granted Geneseo an automatic bid into the Division III National Tournament.
Before they could try to take the title, the game was delayed an hour-and-a-half due to bus difficulties for the Oswego team. Despite this distraction, all the storylines came together and the action began quickly. It was not a typical slow start; both teams scored within the first period.
According to freshman defenseman Chris Perna, the delay did not seriously hinder the Knights’ game plan.
“My game preparation pretty much stayed the same,” Perna said. “We were all fired up to play so the delay wasn’t ideal, but you could tell both teams remained focused and ready to go by the hard-fought, competitive game that was played.”
Once the game eventually began, Geneseo found themselves down a goal with five minutes remaining in the first period until senior defenseman Mitch Ferguson ripped a wrist shot to knot the game at one.
The Geneseo crowd erupted after the game-tying goal. Most fans showed up early and had to wait two-and-a-half-hours for something to cheer for. Ferguson’s goal sent the capacity Ira S. Wilson Ice Arena into a frenzy.
In the second period, Geneseo built on the crowd’s energy and added onto their lead with a backhanded goal, scored by Perna.
Playing in his first SUNYAC Championship, Perna was thrilled to score a huge goal for the Knights.
“The feeling is pretty incredible,” Perna said. “After the puck went in and the crowd erupted, I kind of blacked out before being hugged by my teammates.”
Geneseo then scored a third goal that seemed to put the game away for good when junior forward Andrew Romano sent a pass across the front of the net between several Oswego defenders. Junior forward Tyson Empey corralled the pass and turned it around, burying the puck into the net.
As Empey and his teammates celebrated, Romano turned to the crowd and pumped his fists into the air as the crowd jumped to their feet to celebrate the goal.
Four minutes later, Oswego showed they were still in the game, sliding a goal past senior goaltender Devin McDonald with 23 seconds left in the second period.
Oswego carried that newfound momentum into the third period, tying the game at three with 10 minutes left to play.
Five minutes later, it was Ferguson once again as he scored the eventual game winning goal. With two goals and one assist in the game, Ferguson was named the tournament’s MVP.
When time expired, Geneseo was crowned the champions as the players rushed the ice, throwing their helmets and gloves into the air as they celebrated their sixth SUNYAC title.
Each player took a turn hoisting the trophy into the air, presenting it to their peers and loyal fans.
Geneseo is not finished yet. They will play in the national tournament on March 16.
Geneseo will have ample time to plan for the game against either Manhattanville University or University of Massachusetts at Boston, who will square off against each other on Saturday March 9.