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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 drops pair at No. 18 Pitt

Center Jesse Edwards (15) and his teammates celebrate a goal against Syracuse on Saturday, Nov. 11. Edwards scored a goal and tallied an assist this past weekend at Pittsburgh. ANGELINA LIVIGNI/THE STATESMAN

After being swept in a series for the third time this year, the No. 23 Stony Brook hockey team is back behind the eight ball once again.

The Seawolves (4-8-1, 3-3-0 ESCHL) lost both games in Pittsburgh this past weekend to the No. 18 Pittsburgh Panthers (13-6-1, 7-0-0 ESCHL). On Friday, Stony Brook was defeated in convincing fashion 4-1 before dropping Saturday’s game 5-3.

In the series’ opening contest, the Panthers got off and running just over a minute and a half into the first period. On the rush, Pittsburgh left winger Eddie Pazo forced a pass to right winger Oldrich Virag as he drove to the net. Though Virag was contained, he bumped the puck back to Pazo in the right faceoff circle, who one-timed it past goaltender Matvei Kazakov’s blocker to take a 1-0 lead.

With 7:48 remaining in the first period, the Seawolves knotted the game up. The Panthers attempted to clear their defensive zone, but the puck glanced off left winger Victor Nikiforov and was kept in by right defenseman Brendan Fess at the blueline. Fess threw a seemingly harmless shot towards the goal, but center Jesse Edwards got a stick on the puck to redirect it past Pittsburgh goaltender Grant Lindsay.

The game remained deadlocked until the 12:41 mark of the second period when the Panthers broke the tie during four-on-four play. From the right corner, Pittsburgh left winger Ben Leslie protected the puck and found himself with time and space in the slot, where he ripped a wrist shot over Kazakov’s glove.

In the third period, the Panthers stretched out their lead and never looked back. Just over eight and a half minutes into the frame, Pittsburgh center Ian Keller threw the puck towards bodies crashing the crease on a three-on-two rush. Though Kazakov turned aside the initial attempt, Pittsburgh right winger J.C. Bele deposited the rebound into the yawning cage to make it 3-1.

Two minutes later off a low-to-high pass, Bele received the puck at center point. With traffic in front of Kazakov, he fired a shot towards the net, which was deflected by Pittsburgh center Luke Parry and into the cage to put the game to bed.

Though Stony Brook generated 41 shots on goal, it failed to muster up enough offensive opportunities when it mattered most. The Panthers dominated play in the third period, as they hemmed the Seawolves in their defensive end and outshot them 18-9.

In game two, Stony Brook got off to a dreadful start, as Pittsburgh scored on its first two shots of the afternoon. Just 28 seconds into the game, Bele corralled a loose puck in the neutral zone and found Leslie open at the blueline, who skated into the left faceoff circle and rifled a far-side shot into the back of the net. Just over a minute later, Virag led a two-on-one rush and slid the puck over to Pazo, who buried it to make it 2-0 within the first two minutes.

After a lengthy delay for maintenance in the second period, the Panthers added onto their lead when play resumed. Just under eight minutes into the period, Virag took a shot from the right faceoff circle that was turned aside by Kazakov, but Pittsburgh right defenseman Jack Kisela was there to deposit the rebound.

A minute and a half later, the Panthers pounced on another rebound. Pittsburgh right defenseman Dan Larkin one-timed a shot from the right point, creating chaos in front of the net. Virag got to the loose puck and failed to convert, but Pazo netted the third chance from the left side of the goal crease to put his team ahead 4-0.

Following the goal, Kazakov was pulled in favor of backup goaltender Scott Barnikow. Kazakov denied just nine of the 13 shots he faced, giving him a .692 save percentage for the day.

The change seemed to ignite the Seawolves’ offense. With 6:11 remaining in the middle frame, right winger Justin Nakagawa centered the puck from behind the net to left winger Grant Ermellini, who whiffed on the one-timer. Luckily for him, the puck landed right back on his stick, allowing him to bang it past Pittsburgh goaltender Devin Barresi.

Just over a minute later, Stony Brook cut its deficit to two goals. Left defenseman Spencer Boris received the puck at center point and took a seeing-eye wrist shot that found its way through traffic for his first goal of the season.

Most of the final period was quiet until Stony Brook pulled within one goal with five minutes remaining. On the rush, center Matteo Daita took a shot from the left side that was stopped. Edwards was stuffed on the rebound, but center Nick Zarrilli — who was playing on the right wing — was there to knock in the third try. However, the Seawolves’ comeback hopes washed away when Pazo completed the hat trick with an empty net goal on the power play to seal the game.

Stony Brook missed a major opportunity to climb up the Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League (ESCHL) standings, as a sweep would have put them in a tie with Pittsburgh atop the league. Instead, the Seawolves dropped to .500 in league play for the season and four games under overall.

Kazakov was not his usual self this weekend. Through the two games, he allowed eight goals on 54 shots, giving him a lackluster .852 save percentage. In relief on Saturday, Barnikow was outstanding, as he stopped all 15 shots he faced and raised his save percentage on the year to .913.

Offensively, Edwards was the team’s top performer. He led the team with two points over the weekend with both a goal and an assist.

Ermellini, Boris and Zarrilli rounded out the scoring. Fess, Nikiforov, Nakagawa, Daita, center Nick Gallo, right defenseman Teddy Valenti and center Will Kormanik all dished out assists.

In both games of the series, Stony Brook lost the special teams battle. During the weekend, its power play went 1-for-5, but its penalty kill was just 4-for-7.

With Thanksgiving break upcoming, the Seawolves will return to action in two weeks when they host the Delaware Blue Hens at The Rinx for a two-game series. The Blue Hens are 7-6-1 this year after sweeping New York University (NYU) this past weekend with a pair of 7-1 victories.

Since NYU is on probation for violating the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s scheduling rules, Delaware’s series with it did not count towards the ESCHL’s standings. Due to that, the Blue Hens are just 1-1-0 in ESCHL play. The series will begin on Saturday, Dec. 2 at 8:30 p.m. before wrapping up the next day with a 3:30 p.m. start.

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About the Contributor
Anthony DiCocco, Assistant Sports Editor
Anthony DiCocco is an Assistant Sports Editor at The Statesman. He is a sophomore majoring in journalism with aspirations of becoming a sports journalist. His love of sports derives from years of playing dek hockey and watching his favorite teams, the New York Islanders, New York Mets and New York Jets. He is the beat reporter for Stony Brook’s hockey and softball teams. He has also covered football, men’s lacrosse and men’s soccer. He was previously the Editor-in-Chief of his high school newspaper the Devil’s Tale at Plainedge High School. He is a local product from North Massapequa, N.Y.
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