The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

30° Stony Brook, NY
The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


No. 23 Stony Brook hockey hopes to keep ascending at No. 18 Pitt

Right winger Justin Nakagawa skates against Syracuse on Saturday, Nov. 11. Nakagawa will lead the Stony Brook hockey team’s offense at Pittsburgh this weekend. ANGELINA LIVIGNI/THE STATESMAN

Coming off a series sweep, the No. 23 Stony Brook hockey team will look to carry that success into this weekend.

The Seawolves (4-6-1, 3-1-0 ESCHL) will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the No. 18 Pittsburgh Panthers (11-6-1, 5-0-0 ESCHL) in a two-game series. Puck drops are set for 9:15 p.m. on Friday and 1:15 p.m. on Saturday. Like their last series against Syracuse, both games will count towards the Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League (ESCHL) standings.

Leading the way for Stony Brook in the crease will be goaltender Matvei Kazakov. After being pulled in back-to-back starts, Kazakov bounced back last weekend, stopping 44 of the 47 shots he faced. On the season as a whole, Kazakov has posted a .912 save percentage and 32.7 saves per game.

Backing up Kazakov will likely be goaltender Scott Barnikow. Through five games against American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) opponents, he has posted a .905 save percentage. However, he is coming off a poor performance versus Syracuse where he allowed six goals in 44 shots.

The Seawolves have been very reliant on Kazakov and Barnikow, as they have made at least 38 saves in the team’s four wins. Their defense is allowing 38.2 shots per game in ACHA play. They will be without their top blueliner — left defenseman Andrew Mancini — who is dealing with a head injury. He is out indefinitely and will not play again this semester.

In his stead, left defensemen Spencer Boris and Joey Trazzera alongside right defensemen Owen Larson, Nolan Towne, Brendan Fess and Teddy Valenti will be relied upon. Towne has been playing on the left side while being paired up with Larson since Mancini went down, and will likely do the same against Pittsburgh. Larson has been the best performer of the group, with six points on two goals and four assists.

The Seawolves’ defense will have to level up in order to compete against the Panthers. This season, Pittsburgh has scored four or more goals in 11 of their 18 games played this season so far.

Leading the Panthers’ offense is the ACHA’s leading goalscorer — winger Oldrich Virag. Virag has played in every game this year and scored 22 goals while also dishing out 10 assists. His 32 points lead the ESCHL.

Virag is not the only offensive star on the team. Fellow winger Eddie Pazo and center Josh Hrip are the second and third-leading point producers in the ESCHL. Pazo leads Pittsburgh with 20 assists on the season and has also deposited seven goals. Hrip has scored eight goals and tallied 14 assists.

Center Ian Keller alongside wingers J.C. Bele, Daniel Král and Ben Leslie have all been big offensive contributors. Bele has totaled five goals and nine assists this season while Král, Keller and Leslie all have 13 points each. Král has scored nine goals while Keller has added seven. Leslie is more of a playmaker, as nine of his 13 points have been assists. Winger Andreas Forand has produced another four goals for the Panthers.

The Panthers have a talented back end. Defenseman Alex Paluso leads his position group with eight assists while fellow defenseman Jack Kisela sits just behind him with seven. Defenseman Sawyer Smith has contributed a goal and three assists. They have been effective in the defensive zone as well, as the team is surrendering just 2.89 goals per game.

Despite its powerful offense, Pittsburgh’s power play has been just mediocre this season. It has converted on just 14 of its 74 (18.92%) opportunities, according to the ACHA’s website. The Panthers will have to deal with a strong Stony Brook penalty kill that has killed off 41 of its 46 (89.13%) penalties.

Pittsburgh’s penalty kill has gotten the job done throughout the season, surviving 53 of its 66 (80.30%) times shorthanded. The unit will have to battle the Seawolves’ power play, who is red-hot after converting on four of their seven man advantages last weekend. After starting the season slowly, Stony Brook has improved to a 23.53% conversion rate for the season.

The Panthers’ goaltending duo of Devin Barresi and Grant Lindsay have been serviceable this season. The duo splits games almost evenly, but Lindsay’s statistics are better. According to the ACHA, Lindsay has posted a .915 save percentage and two shutouts. Barresi is managing an .889 save percentage with a shutout.

The Panthers’ defenseman and goaltenders will be challenged, as the Seawolves are coming into the matchup having scored 17 goals in their series this past weekend.

In order to crack Pittsburgh’s defense, right winger Justin Nakagawa will have to continue to be Stony Brook’s engine. Through 11 games, he has scored five goals and dished out a team-leading eight assists for 13 points. They will be without left winger Matt Minerva, who will miss the series with a knee injury. Minerva leads the team with eight goals.

Despite not playing his natural position of center, Will Kormanik declared to the ACHA that he is officially back last weekend. After missing eight games with a separated shoulder, Kormanik scored four goals this past Sunday and totaled five points during the two-game series. He will be playing on the left wing until his shoulder is fully healed, meaning that he will not handle faceoffs this upcoming weekend.

Also on the wing is left winger Grant Ermellini, who has been a productive goalscorer with four tallies.

Though Kormanik moved to the wing to ease him back into the lineup, the Seawolves are still built strong up the middle. Center James Kozicki has scored three goals and added five assists in 11 games thus far. Center Nick Gallo has returned to the lineup after breaking his hand during the preseason, picking up three assists through his first five games. Center Jesse Edwards has picked up two goals and four assists in 11 games.

A pair of versatile centers are on heaters right now for Stony Brook. Center Frankie Anastasio has gotten hot and tallied five points (one goal and four assists) in just six games played. He moved out to the right wing against Syracuse and may stay there due to his four assists in the series. Center Matteo Daita has erupted for two goals and four assists over his last four games after being held without a point through his first six appearances. Daita will be centering until Kormanik is ready to do so.

The Seawolves have the opportunity to move into a first-place tie with Pittsburgh atop the ESCHL standings with a sweep. A split would still likely benefit Stony Brook, as it could still rise in the ACHA’s rankings depending on its goal differential in the series.

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 *