Hockey World Cup captivates international fans

With the upcoming National Hockey League season looming in the distance, fans have an exciting distraction to hold their cravings until then: the 2016 Hockey World Cup. Consisting of eight international teams, the cup promises to deliver exciting competition featuring the best players that the NHL has to offer. The tournament officially begins this Saturday Sept. 17 and ends on Oct. 1. The tournament will use a traditional “two groups of four, round robin” bracket for the group stages, where the top two from each group move to the semifinals. Though the round robin does not officially begin until Saturday, several exhibition games have been played leading up to the start, including two Team Canada versus Team USA games and two Team North America versus Europe games.

The Cup offers a different twist on the participating teams this year. With the exception of some of the best teams in the world—Canada, United States, Finland, Russia, Sweden and the Czech Republic—Teams North America and Europe are new additions to the rivalry.

Team Europe brings in European players who normally wouldn’t get the chance to participate due to their native country being unselected for the field. The team includes players such as defenseman and captain Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins, forward Marian Hossa of the Chicago Blackhawks and goaltender Jaroslav Halak from the New York Islanders.

Team North America also brings an interesting perspective, as all members are from Canada and the U.S., but are also under the age of 23. Some big names include forward Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres, forward Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers and goaltender Matt Murray of the 2016 Stanley Cup winning team Pittsburgh Penguins.

The groups are somewhat easy to predict in terms of who will move onto the semifinals. Some people envision semifinalists will include Canada, U.S., Europe and the Czech Republic, while others predict Finland, Sweden, North America and Russia.

The former will most likely see Canada moving on with a potential 3-0, as they are the favorites this year in the Cup. Team USA is likely to take second, but do have a chance to pull the upset against their longtime rivals, Team Canada. These two teams have played each other twice, coming out with a 1-1 record. USA took the first game 4-2, while Canada bounced back for game two and took it 5-2 in what were fast paced, heavy-hitting games that lead to a fair amount of penalties and brawls.

The latter took a different viewpoint coming into the tournament, with all four predicted teams in contention, but the exhibition games have shown a clear separation between the young Team North America and the rest of the field. Beating out Team Europe twice—the first time 4-0 and the second 7-4—they ultimately fell to the Czech Republic 3-2 on Wednesday Sept. 14.

Although their inexperience does show later into their game with a noticeable drop in activity from period to period, strong starts like Sunday Sept. 11’s 5-1 first period against Europe may be all that’s needed to keep them advancing through the tournament. Behind Team North America, it’s a toss-up between the other three as for who will take second, as Russia, Finland and Sweden are all capable teams.

No matter what, this year’s World Cup promises some thrilling games and rivalries that will hold over die-hard hockey fans for the last month until the NHL season kicks up again. Though it’s very early to tell—having only seen preliminary exhibitions—a favorite opinion among fans has a finals match between Team Canada and Team North America, as long as they continue to skate on all cylinders.

Ice Knights advance to SUNYAC semifinals

With a 2-0 win over SUNY Potsdam and a 3-3 tie against SUNY Plattsburgh on Friday Feb. 19 and Saturday Feb. 20 respectively, the Ice Knights have procured a third place standing in the SUNYAC in the regular season. The team will host their first playoff game on Wednesday Feb. 24 against the sixth seeded Potsdam Bears.

The first game of the weekend against Potsdam was an absolute thriller. After one period of play, both teams clocked 10 shots on goal, 11 faceoff wins apiece and had the same number of power play opportunities. The second period saw the Bears take the lead in terms of shots on goal and scoring opportunities. Each team was presented with two power plays apiece and the Bears started the third and final period a man up due to a penalty seconds before the end of the second. 

The Bears outshot the Ice Knights in the third period, but senior forward AJ Sgaraglio lifted the Ice Knights into the lead on a top-shelf backhand shot with only 3:05 left to play in regulation. The Ice Knights would score again with just 1:54 left on a dynamic shot from junior defenseman Derek Stahl which was deflected on target by first-year forward Anthony Marra.

First-year goaltender Devin McDonald was the star of the night, however, tallying his second career shutout as an Ice Knight. McDonald faced and stopped all 36 shots that came his way to keep the Ice Knights in the game.

The following night found Geneseo playing against the third ranked team in the nation and first seed in the SUNYAC: the Plattsburgh Cardinals. Senior defenseman Matt Solomon put the Ice Knights on the board first with a power play goal 11:10 into first period. The score was tied just 18 seconds later as Plattsburgh found their first tally of the night. Junior forward and points leader Stephen Collins put Geneseo back on top with 6:31 remaining, but the Cardinals answered again at 3:15 to close out the first period with the score tied at 2-2.

The second period was full of fast-paced action, but the Cardinals secured the lead going into the final period off of a goal just 27 seconds before the buzzer. The Ice Knights struck early into the third period, however, with sophomore defenseman Pat Condon netting his third goal of the season 36 seconds into the final period to force an overtime that resulted in a tie.

The Ice Knights kept pace with the Cardinals for the majority of the contest, but found themselves heavily outshot in the third period—14-7—for a total game tally of 36-25 in favor of Plattsburgh. McDonald showed up huge with 33 saves.

With the three points gained over the weekend, the Ice Knights didn’t hold onto their second seed position going into playoffs. They will, however, get a home game against a team that they have beaten twice with season: Potsdam.

With junior forward Trevor Hills not playing on Friday Feb. 19 against the Bears, Geneseo can expect his return this Wednesday Feb. 24 to make things go more smoothly.

If the Ice Knights defeat the Bears, the team will look forward to playing the Buffalo State College Bengals on Saturday Feb. 27. The Bengals are the only team to have beaten the Ice Knights in conference this season. The puck drops at 7 p.m. for all SUNYAC playoff contests.

Knight of the week: Jack Ceglarski

Playing ice hockey in college is a dream for many young hockey players and for most, it remains an unattainable wish due to the amount of work and commitment that is required to even be considered by colleges. Enter junior forward Jack Ceglarski, a player who was fortunate enough to be able to continue his hockey career right here in Geneseo as a member of the Ice Knights.

Unlike a majority of Geneseo students, Ceglarski is not from the state of New York. Rather, he was born in Beverly, Massachusetts and grew up in Byfield, Massachusetts where his family still lives today. Ice hockey is to Massachusetts as lacrosse is to Long Island—practically everyone plays or has played at some point in their life.

Not only did Ceglarski grow up in an atmosphere that supports hockey, but his own family had strong ties to the sport. His grandfather and father both played, as did his two older brothers. Ceglarski started his ice hockey career young, stepping onto the ice for the first time as a 2-year-old.

Ceglarski explained that his original goal was to play for a Division I college, but when he realized that he would not be able to do so, he chose Geneseo for its welcoming environment.

“The campus and the atmosphere when I came on my visit here—I loved everything about it and honestly when I was leaving, I knew that I would come here and so it was an easy choice for me,” he said. “It was my goal to go Division I but at the end of the day when I realized that I wasn’t going Division I, I was totally OK with coming here and I do not regret one thing.”

Ceglarski has had a successful career as an Ice Knight thus far, tallying up four points this season and showing that he deserves to be playing at the collegiate level.

“My role on the team is to play an all-around complete game in all three zones, use my speed to beat other teams and find open teammates,” Ceglarski said. “I feel I've helped the Ice Knights the last few seasons by bringing hard work on and off the ice to keep the Geneseo hockey tradition going in the right direction.” Ceglarski’s dedication to his teammates exemplifies the strong bond that helps to make the Ice Knights so successful.

When he’s not on the ice, Ceglarski noted that he enjoys hanging out with his friends, listening to music and playing golf when the weather is nice. Ceglarski also noted that he cannot whistle.

Even though he may not be completely sure as to what he wants to do after Geneseo, Ceglarski noted that he is optimistic about seeing where his geography major and history minor may take him. Having one year left as an an Ice Knight and Geneseo student, he still has time to figure out his future while also helping his team move forward into the NCAA Tournament.

Ice Knights surpass expectations, ranked in top 10

The Ice Knights’ last season left a lot to be desired. Finding limited success from the Frozen Four run the previous year, the Ice Knights hung up their skates after the first round SUNYAC Tournament loss to the SUNY Brockport Golden Eagles.

In addition, the graduation of several key players including defensive captain Jack Caradonna ‘15, forward points leader Tyler Brickler ’15 and record breaking goaltender Nick Horrigan ‘15, would point to the Ice Knights undergoing a rebuilding year. According to assistant coach Kris Heeres, even several pre-season polls put the Ice Knights toward the bottom of the SUNYAC standings.

Despite all the uncertainty that surfaced before the season began, it’s more than fair to say that the Ice Knights performance in the first half of the 2015-2016 season has surpassed everyone’s expectations. Right out of the gate, the Ice Knights started with a tie against the then sixth ranked team in the nation: the SUNY Oswego Lakers.

The first weekend not only saw the Ice Knights start with a 0-0-2 record, but it also gave them many ideas and indications of what needed to be worked on for the rest of the season. Since that pair of ties, the Ice Knights have gone 7-1. They dropped their only game to Buffalo State while beating several nationally-ranked teams such as 14th ranked Williams College and the huge upset Saturday Dec. 5 over the top team in the nation: the SUNY Plattsburgh Cardinals.

It would be senior forward David Ripple to put the Ice Knights ahead of the Cardinals 5-4 with only 2:06 left to play, a testament of how several Ice Knights have risen to fill the skates left by last year’s seniors. Ripple has 13 points to his name this season and is one of four players that are already in double-digit points—the other three being the offensive line of first year Anthony Marra with 14, junior Stephen Collins with 16 and junior Trevor Hills with 14. This line in particular has had the most success, combining for 23 goals and nearly averaging two per game. Marra is especially deserving of credit, winning 81 of his 148 face-offs this season, putting him at a 55 percent win-rate.

Perhaps the biggest skates to fill were those of Horrigan, who after 40 games in an Ice Knights’ jersey averaged a .931 save percentage and had a 2.13 goals allowed per game average. While it may be too early to tell if Horrigan’s record will be broken, first year goalie Devin McDonald is certainly giving him a run for his money. Having only played eight games so far this season, McDonald has averaged a .928 save percentage, 1.98 goals allowed average and remains undefeated—a great start.

Looking ahead, the Ice Knights are currently ranked fourth in the SUNYAC, having played fewer games than several other teams above them. They certainly have the potential to clinch one of the top two seeds in the SUNYAC, which would allow them to have a bye in the first round as well as home ice advantage in the playoffs. The Ice Knights were ranked in the top 10 in the nation and look to climb higher as the season progresses.

The last game of the Ice Knights’ first half of the season occurs Friday Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. when they host the Nazareth College Golden Flyers in the Ira S. Wilson arena. The Ice Knights then go on a month break and the second half of their season will start on Jan. 8 against Hobart College.

Ice Knights nationally ranked with 5-1 record

The Ice Knights skated to a 3-0 victory on Saturday Nov. 28 over 15th-ranked Williams College to secure their fifth win and first shutout of the season. This improves the Ice Knights’ record to 5-1-2 on the season, all while handing Williams its first loss and dropping them to 3-1.

The game started slow as both the Ice Knights and Williams College had difficulty rallying their offenses for the first two periods. The tally of the shots on goal after two periods had Geneseo ahead, but only by a margin of 14 -13. Both teams had several chances to net the first puck, but strong defense kept the offenses at bay.

Geneseo, however, would surge ahead once again in the third period, putting up three unanswered goals. Senior forward David Ripple would be the one to break the long stalemate just 1:13 into the third period to accumulate his third goal of the year on a hard shot from the blue line.

Junior forward Stephen Collins would follow at the halfway point of the period with a power play goal to put the Ice Knights ahead 2-0. Junior forward RJ Burns drove the final nail into the coffin with an empty netted goal with just 27 seconds left on the clock to secure the Ice Knight’s first shut-out.

First-year goalkeeper Devin McDonald remains undefeated this season in net, improving to 5-0-1 while earning his first career shutout as an Ice Knight. Stopping all 23 shots sent his way, McDonald improved to a .939 save percentage and a 1.61 goals allowed average, putting him at 14th in the nation for the lowest GAA.

Although this game was not a conference game for the Ice Knights, it held an equal amount of importance—Geneseo came into the weekend looking to obtain a spot in the national rankings. The shutout win over Williams certainly spoke volumes—Geneseo took Williams’ spot at 12th in the nation, marking the first time Geneseo has held a ranking since the beginning of last season.

The week ahead may give pause to the Ice Knights’ advance, however, as they play the current first and second seeds in the SUNYAC. Friday Dec. 4 sees Geneseo hosting the SUNY Potsdam Bears, currently first in the SUNYAC. Geneseo went 0-2 against the Bears last season, but with the absence of star goaltender Jon Hall for the Bears, the Ice Knights may find an edge with the resurgence of a reliable offense and goaltending.

  The following night, Saturday Dec. 5, the Ice Knights host the current number two seed: SUNY Plattsburgh. While Geneseo split their series last year going 1-1 against the Cardinals, Plattsburgh has shown no signs of weakness this year with their 8-0-0 overall record and scoring over five goals per game, good enough for second in the nation.

This weekend at the Ira S. Wilson Arena also marks the fifth annual Teddy Bear Toss. Attendees to the Friday Dec. 4 game against Potsdam are encouraged to bring stuffed animals to donate to charity by tossing them onto the ice after the Ice Knights’ first goal of the night. The puck drops for both contests this weekend at 7 p.m.

Hockey stays strong after three-game win streak

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Ice Knights draw Oswego

Questions regarding how well the Ice Knights would perform after losing several members of their core line-up were answered Friday Oct. 30 in the season opener when the Ice Knights drew the SUNY Oswego Lakers to a 3-3 tie.

Despite losing leading point scorer forward Tyler Brickler ‘15, defensive captain Jack Caradonna ’15 and one of the most successful goaltenders in the Geneseo hockey program’s history, Nick Horrigan ‘15, the Ice Knights showed that they still had the capability to go against nationally ranked teams. The Ice Knights successfully held their own against Oswego, a team ranked sixth in NCAA Division III hockey in the preseason polls.

In the home ice-opener for Geneseo, Oswego was able to strike first—2:26 into the first period, Oswego scored. The Lakers were also given a power play off of junior defenseman Cam Hampson’s hooking that occurred just before the goal. The Ice Knights’ penalty kill last season was ranked in the top 10 for the entire NCAA. It was made clear that they still had this shorthanded prowess when senior forward Ryan Donnelly was able to find breakaways not once but twice—scoring on the second shorthanded opportunity to tie the score back up at one.

The second period saw the Ice Knights score two goals in rapid succession. Junior forward RJ Burns scored with an amazing self-rebound from lying flat on the ice at seven minutes in. Junior forward Trevor Hills scored off of a quick succession of passes on a power-play at 8:38. Junior forward Alex Botten of Oswego was able to cut down on the lead for Oswego at 12:21 to make the score 3-2 going into the third period.

The Knights played a defensive third period, but with 3:11 left in the game, Oswego was able to tie up the score for the second time to make it 3-3 and force overtime. After 65 total minutes of play, the score was still 3-3 and the Ice Knights came away from their first game of the season tying the nationally ranked team.

Junior Matt Leon was the starting goalie for the Ice Knights and put up an admirable performance, making a career-high 36 saves and ending the night with a .923 save percentage. “This was his first real test going up against a strong opposing team and he did well,” assistant coach Kris Heeres said. “We’re excited to see what more he can bring to the team after tonight and at the same time we’re also excited to see what first-year [goaltender] Devin McDonald can also bring.”

Heeres expressed his optimism about the team’s future play. “We’re going to take the good and bad from this game to help in the upcoming weeks,” he said. “Though we didn’t secure a win tonight, I think we showed that we’re a team that’s ready to compete with very high end teams such as Oswego and [SUNY] Plattsburgh.”

The Ice Knights will faceoff against the SUNY Canton Kangaroos at the Ira S. Wilson Arena on Friday Nov. 6 and Saturday Nov. 7 with the puck dropping at 7 p.m. for both games.

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