The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

75° Stony Brook, NY
The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


No. 19 Stony Brook hockey splits opening series with Oswego

Left winger Victor Nikiforov (23) slips the puck through Oswego goaltender Ben Di Fiore’s legs on Sunday, Oct. 8. Nikiforov’s goal was the first of his Stony Brook career. MIKE ANDERSON/THE STATESMAN

A dominant performance on Sunday helped the No. 19 Stony Brook hockey team earn a split in its opening series.

The Seawolves (1-1-0) began their season at The Rinx in Hauppauge, N.Y. over the weekend and split a two-game, non-league set against the Oswego Lakers (6-2-0, 2-0-0 NECHL). On Saturday night, the Seawolves fell 3-2 before bouncing back with a convincing 6-1 victory on Sunday afternoon.

The first period on Saturday was a high-scoring, back-and-forth affair. Less than five minutes into the game, center James Kozicki flicked the puck out to the point, where left defenseman Andrew Mancini was waiting. Mancini found left winger Matt Minerva in the right faceoff circle, where he connected on a one-timer for a power-play goal.

Less than a minute later, Oswego knotted the game up when left winger Trevor Jubran rifled one from the top of the left faceoff circle over goaltender Matvei Kazakov’s left shoulder. Stony Brook responded a minute later when right defenseman Brendan Fess sprung center Will Kormanik up the ice with a perfect pass, creating a two-on-one opportunity. Kormanik found left winger Grant Ermellini to his left. From the slot, Ermellini ripped one over Oswego goaltender Thomas McAleer’s right shoulder for his first goal as a Seawolf.

With just over five minutes remaining in the period, the Lakers tied the game late on a delayed penalty. From the defensive zone, Oswego left winger Ryan Saelens sent a stretch pass to right winger Stephen Matro up the ice, who buried his own rebound after a save by Kazakov to make it 2-2.

Though the Seawolves’ offense started off hot, their defense made life hard for Kazakov by allowing 17 shots on goal in the first period. Head coach Chris Garofalo said they gave the Lakers’ offense too much room to operate.

“We need to keep our gap control better so we’re not too far away from the other team,” Garofalo said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “Our forwards were so far ahead of [our defensemen] that when there were turnovers, there was such a gap between their forwards and our [defense] … and that gave them a lot of time and space.”

The second period was filled with physicality but barely any scoring. With 8:17 left in the frame, right winger Kyle DePalma was tripped from behind on a breakaway, which awarded him a penalty shot. DePalma crept in slowly down the left side, but his shot to the right banked off McAleer’s left pad to keep the game tied at two apiece.

The missed penalty wound up being the difference. With less than three minutes in the second period, Oswego right defenseman Adam Jubran stole the puck from Kozicki behind Stony Brook’s net and carried it from coast-to-coast. After blowing past both right winger Justin Nakagawa and Fess, Jubran slipped one under Kazakov to join his brother on the scoresheet and give the Lakers a 3-2 lead.

The Seawolves’ offense went to sleep in the third period, as they only attempted five shots. They had one power play opportunity about two and a half minutes in but came up empty-handed. The team finished the night just 1-for-6 on the power play and failed to convert on its final five opportunities.

Garofalo said the power-play unit’s lack of aggressiveness cost it the chance to score.

“We don’t shoot enough on the power play,” Garofalo said. “Our guys weren’t able to find those lanes to the net. Everybody’s looking for the perfect shot.”

The team also suffered a serious blow when Kormanik left the game in the second period clutching his left shoulder. He suffered a grade three acromioclavicular joint sprain, putting the rest of his semester in doubt.

Garofalo gave Kazakov a rest on Sunday and started goaltender Scott Barnikow instead. Once again, Stony Brook’s offense came out firing. This time around, it was able to sustain its scoring dominance.

The Seawolves scored on four of their first 12 shots. Just over two minutes into the game, Kozicki crunched Adam Jurban into the boards to force a loose puck that caromed to left defenseman Dylan Kowalsky. Kowalsky shoveled the puck in front of the net, and Minerva backhanded it past the slumped over McAleer to start the scoring barrage.

Just under three minutes later, right defenseman Nolan Towne passed one from the point into the right faceoff circle, where center Jesse Edwards caught in stride towards the net. Edwards lifted the puck past McAleer’s left shoulder to double Stony Brook’s lead. About six minutes later, center Frankie Anastasio won a draw cleanly to right defenseman Teddy Valenti deep behind the faceoff circle, where he sniped his first goal as a Seawolf beyond McAleer’s reach.

The third goal prompted Oswego head coach Travis Hyde to bench McAleer in favor of backup goaltender Ben Di Fiore. Unfortunately for Hyde, Di Fiore did not stop the bleeding. With 4:46 remaining in the opening period, Di Fiore made a tough save on a backhand shot by Mancini. Right winger Max Zarkhin passed the loose puck back out to Mancini with Di Fiore still on the ground trying to regain his balance. Mancini connected on the one-timer to put the Seawolves up 4-0.

Garofalo attributed the offensive breakout to the players’ team-friendly approach.

“We weren’t individualistic,” Garofalo said. “We were actually using each other and moving the puck and playing more systematically. By doing that, it [allows] us to have better offense. The fact that we were playing more as a unit … that’s what won this game.”

The onslaught carried into the middle period when Minerva scored his third goal in two days on a breakaway with 8:38 left in the frame. Just under four minutes later, Edwards found left winger Victor Nikiforov behind the Lakers’ net. Nikiforov drove towards the front of the net and slid one through Di Fiore’s legs for his first career goal with Stony Brook, making it 6-0.

Oswego played with more energy in the final period and broke up Barnikow’s shutout with Trevor Jubran’s second goal of the weekend. That was all the Lakers mustered up, as Barnikow turned the rest of their shots away to preserve the 6-1 romping.

Barnikow had the best game of his young career on Sunday, posting a .974 save percentage on the 39 shots he faced. He credited the defense in front of him and the support from his teammates for his career night.

“It really helps to have a team like that in front of me,” Barnikow said. “They kept all the shots outside for me. Having the guys in the locker room always patting me on the back, telling me I’m doing a good job really helps.”

The Seawolves had a perfect weekend on the penalty kill. According to the official game scoresheets, they were 12-for-12 killing penalties. As for their power play unit, it struggled, going just 1-for-7. However, the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s website incorrectly has them at 19-for-19 on penalty kills and 1-for-10 on power plays.

Stony Brook was outshot 77-72 in the series. The team’s goaltending was superb, as Kazakov and Barnikow combined for a .948 save percentage. Kazakov posted a .921 save percentage in his season debut.

Minerva led the team with three goals over the weekend. Mancini co-led the team alongside Minerva with three points, as he scored a goal and dished out two assists. Kozicki shared the team lead in assists with Mancini, as he also contributed a pair.

Minerva believes that the offense’s sluggish finish on Saturday was due to fatigue, and that it will not happen again.

“We didn’t have our legs yesterday, and that’s how we’re going to play from now on,” Minerva said. “That first game was a fluke.”

The Seawolves will now hit the road for the first time this year to kick off their Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League (ESCHL) play. They will travel to upstate New York next weekend for a two-game showdown next with the Niagara Purple Eagles. The Purple Eagles are 4-0-0 and 2-0-0 in ESCHL games after sweeping Drexel last weekend. The series will commence on Saturday at 7 p.m. and will wrap up the next day with a 3:30 p.m. puck drop.

Mike Anderson also contributed reporting.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Statesman

Your donation will support the student journalists of Stony Brook University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Statesman

Comments (0)

All The Statesman Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *