Friday’s game was one of the most important in Brockport hockey’s history. Not only was it against regional rival Geneseo (who have dominated the series 52-20-1 over the years), but both teams were striving for third place in the SUNYAC, and therefore a home playoff game.
Brockport was more than up for the task, beating the Ice Knights by a score of 5-2 and gaining control of third place with 12 conference points (5-3-2 on the season), versus the 11 points of Geneseo.
It was a different style of play for Brockport last night, which was quite interesting. Rather than emphasizing brutality and intimidation as they have so often this year, they turned it down on a notch in the physical department and focused more on puck control and stick-handling, making the game have a faster, coast-to-coast tempo.
The first period was pretty tame as it seemed like both teams were feeling each other out before turning up the pressure. In total there were only 16 shots on goal in the first. But, it still had its special moments, including Andrew Simmons goal from the blue line and a monster defensive play from Aaron Boyer who pulled the puck away from an offender, just inches from the net.
There was also a scary moment in the first when Geneseo’s #25 (Andy Rygiel) flew into Todd Sheridan, knocking him backward and hitting the back of his head on the ice quite violently. Dave McNab proved to be the great captain he is and throttled the Geneseo player until the ref peeled him off the kid.
Luckily, Todd was able to shake that hit off and the second period was the greatest display of goaltending that I’ve ever seen (and I saw an out-of-this-world Kyle Jones play in the DIII finals last year). Geneseo put 17 shots on goal, scoring only once. Todd had 8 brilliant saves in the period. Yes, 8 saves that could have easily been goals. His first was a save off his shoulder, followed by an amazing tumbling saving four minutes into the period, followed by a similar save 1 minute later. Then, Geneseo had a two-man advantage against which Todd shined with 4 great saves, the best of which included a split stop and a glove save. When the clock said 8:30 he had what I consider was the best save of the year: While Todd was lying flat on his back an offender took a hard wrist shot at the net. Todd stabbed at it with his glove, catching it and preventing the goal.
Obviously frustrated by Todd, Geneseo got cheap and #15 (Phil Rose) struck Todd and chirped for a while after the cheap shot, attempting to goad Todd into a fight.
Brockport put some pressure on Geneseo as well in the second, taking 13 shots and scoring once (Justin Noble). Noble’s goal came after a flurry of four, quick-fire shots on the goaltender Cory Gershon (Mike’s brother), which left me screaming, “you’ve got to be kidding me!!” Gershon showed some amazing reflexes on those shots, but his failure to maintain control of the rebounds finally caught up with him.
Brockport could have scored another goal in the second but Geneseo defenseman Sean Hayden was in the back of the crease (over a lying Gershon) and a shot hit him right in the chest. A great play by the defenseman.
Between the second and third, Todd was visibly in pain, agonizing over his groin. Based on the look of incredible pain on his face, I was sure he wasn’t coming back into the game. But, heroically he did and was able to stop 7 of 8 shots, despite the trauma. He had a clutch save with 1:50 left in the game when it was 4-2. Had he missed that it would have been 4-3 and the last minute could have played out quite differently.
Mike Gershon had a memorable goal, one that he’ll be able to brag about at family get-togethers. He took a hard, spiraling shot from the point that beat his brother Cory in goal, putting Brockport up 3-1. That’s the second goal he’s scored on his kid brother this year. Sadly, being that Mike’s a senior, it’s the last one he’ll ever score on him (unless they face each other in the playoffs).
James Cody had an impressive third period, putting on some sick checks, including one that forced a kid’s skull into the boards (I’ll give the kid credit, most players would have been loopy after such a hit). James’ goal was a very long slap shot while on the power play. It was a bullet.
All in all, a great performance by the team. This season is really something special.
The fans knew the importance of this game, too, and they turned out in droves. Screaming, cheering, taunting, emotional…it was a crowd like I’ve never seen there and it seemed like the players really loved the support. The unofficial box score at USCHO.com said there were 1,000 fans in attendance. I don’t think so. The capacity in the stands is 1,800 and I know that had you taken everyone on the walkways and put them in the stands, you’re talking near-capacity. The student section was definitely elbow-to-elbow and the bleachers behind the players’ benches were stuffed as well. I’ll say there were at least 1,650 fans at the game. Totally amazing.
USCHO.com also covered this game. You can read the recap here:
Here’s what the Athletic Department reports:
Senior Mike Gershon (Sparta, NJ) and freshman James Cody (Schwenksville, PA) each contributed a goal and an assist to lead The College at Brockport Hockey team a 5-2 victory over SUNY Geneseo in a State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) game Friday night at the Tuttle North Ice Arena in Brockport.
Brockport (11-5-3 Overall, 5-3-1 SUNYAC) won its 11th game of the season for the most wins in a season since the 1997-98 year when the Golden Eagles finished 11-14-1 in head coach Brian Dickinson’s second season behind the bench for Brockport. The win moved the Golden Eagles into sole possession of third place in the SUNYAC standings while extending their unbeaten streak to 10 games and winning streak to four games.
Freshman Andrew Simmons (Middleburgh, NY) scored the initial goal of the game with less than five minutes remaining in the first period for Brockport when his shot from the blue line deflected off a Geneseo defenseman and found the back of the net. Brockport made it a 2-0 lead with five minutes left in the second period as Justin Noble (Georgetown, ONT) scored a power play goal with a centering pass from Cody. The goal give Noble at least one point in seven of the last eight games.
Three minutes later, Geneseo (10-8-1, 5-4-1) cut the lead to 2-1 as Kevin Galan scored for the Knights. It was the first shot Geneseo could get past senior Todd Sheridan (Edison, NJ) who finished with 29 saves including 16 in the second period.
Early in the third period, Gershon scored on a wrist shot from the point beating his brother, Cory Gershon giving Brockport a 3-1 lead. Cody made it a 4-1 game with one second left in a two-man advantage for the Golden Eagles as Gershon made a nice pass to start the play and Jason Gorrie (Etobicoke, ONT) sent a centering pass to the stick of Cody for the three-goal advantage.
Less than a minute later, Geneseo answered with a Clint Wilson short handed goal to shave the lead to 4-2 but sophomore Chris Berardini (Batavia, NY) sealed the victory with 1:16 to play with his second goal of the year.