Game of the Week
Had Brockport not let two points slip through its fingers last week against Cortland, this week’s contest against Geneseo would have been an even bigger deal.
Nonetheless, I’m still selecting the Geneseo at Brockport game as the game of the week. It is still a huge game for both teams, coupled with the bragging rights for the Rochester area.
Three points now separate these teams for fifth place, with Potsdam in between them. They both played the same number of games, which means they have four games left in the season, three after they meet on Friday, while teams around them have games in hand. There won’t be much time to recover for the team that losses.
Geneseo desperately needs this game, and not just for positioning. It needs it for morale reasons. Before beating Cortland, the Ice Knights lost four in a row, three of them against conference foes, including a devastating collapse against Buffalo State. Earlier in the year, Brockport humiliated them on home ice, 6-1, after Geneseo scored the first goal.
Although the two teams in front of them, Buffalo State and Fredonia, have a tough road trip and still need to play against each other, being three points behind and playing one extra game, it will be tough to catch any of them. Thus, this game is more a case of keeping those behind than trying to gain on anyone.
For Brockport, it is also a must-win game, as a loss could essentially put them out of the playoff picture. Brockport does get to play Potsdam again, whom it currently trails by just one point, but Potsdam has two games in hand. The Golden Eagles have won just once in their last four games.
So, who do you pick amongst teams heading in the wrong direction? The more desperate one? Is the more desperate one going to have too much pressure to save their season? Or, will they both just “throw in the towel” and wind up in a tie?
On paper, Geneseo is the better team, even if they haven’t always proved that during the season. On the ice, Brockport has certainly surprised some teams this year.
Based on this past weekend’s results and performances, I’m going with Geneseo.
Cortland’s comeback last week spoiled a perfect record for me. Instead, I went 6-1 for a total of 79-23-11 (.748).
I could just have easily selected the western New York teams going up to Plattsburgh. Those are key matchups for the two teams tied for third, while Plattsburgh must be careful to keep pace with Oswego.
“It’s more of the SUNYAC meat grinder,” Fredonia coach Jeff Meredith said. “You got to play it a shift at a time. Everybody is going to give us a battle, whether it’s the best team in the country or the last place team in our league. We just have to put our time in and play good hockey.”
“Our league is so strong top to bottom, you can’t overlook anyone,” Plattsburgh coach Bob Emery said. “I remember their goalie had an off night against us early on. I know they’re playing better defensively.”
Fredonia has won its last four games, letting up two goals in each game.
“I think our guys are working harder than we were before,” Meredith said. “They are doing some of the little things. Obviously, we’re getting great goaltending. A little bit sounder defensively. We got a little bit of momentum. We’ve just got to stay focused.”
No matter how well Fredonia and Buffalo State are playing, Plattsburgh is just way too strong at this time of year to let games slip away. I’m taking the Cardinals in both, but it won’t be easy.
The Blue Devils and Bengals also play at Potsdam. The Bears appear to be in their traditional second half slide, as they have won just once in their last 11 games. That streak will be extended to one win in 13 games.
Morrisville stays home to play Cortland and Oswego. The Red Dragons are now very much in the playoff hunt, and will continue to be after they beat the Mustangs. Oswego will also win, but knowing the way those games sometimes turn out, it might not be easy.