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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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Stony Brook hockey swept by Rhode Island again

Left winger Matt Minerva looks to pass the puck against Liberty on Saturday, Jan. 27. Minerva scored two goals and added an assist at Niagara on Saturday. MACKENZIE YADDAW/THE STATESMAN

A depressing season reached a new low for the Stony Brook hockey team, who is now on its third different five-game losing streak after suffering its sixth series sweep of the season.

The Seawolves (5-13-4, 4-4-2 ESCHL) ventured to Kingston, R.I. this past weekend, where they were swept in two games by the Rhode Island Rams (17-11-2, 6-2-2 ESCHL). Stony Brook allowed four unanswered goals to lose 4-1 on Friday before squandering a late lead and losing 4-3 in overtime on Saturday.

Just over 11 minutes into game one, the Seawolves opened the scoring when left defenseman Joey Trazzera ripped a shot from the left faceoff circle that went wide of the goal. The puck caromed off the boards and onto center Jesse Edwards’ stick at the right side of the crease, where he shoveled it through Rhode Island goaltender Curtis Briggs to make it 1-0.

Momentum from the goal quickly evaporated, as Stony Brook committed a slew of penalties to dig itself a hole.

With 7:33 left in the first period, left defenseman Garth Swanson was sent to the box for elbowing. On the penalty kill, the Seawolves blew coverage on left winger Shane Mulhern in the slot. Goaltender Scott Barnikow sprawled out to deny Mulhern’s shot, but right winger Thomas Fagan buried the rebound to tie it at one apiece.

Just 41 seconds after the Rams tied the game, Trazzera took a trip to the box for illegal checking. For the second time in under two minutes, Fagan and Mulhern connected on the power play. This time, Mulhern deposited the rebound into the back of the net to give Rhode Island a 2-1 lead.

The first 15 and a half minutes of the second period were uneventful until Stony Brook’s sloppy neutral zone defense allowed a two-on-one rush. Leading the charge, Mulhern fired a wrist shot, but Barnikow turned it aside. However, the Rams continued to haunt the Seawolves on second chances, as right winger Matt Tetreault came streaking down the right side and banged home the rebound.

Just 35 seconds into the third period, Rhode Island center Ethan Cordeiro won a faceoff and kicked the puck back to left winger Kevin Kanaczet at the top of the left faceoff circle. From there, Kanaczet roped the puck and snuck it past Barnikow to secure the game.

Head coach Chris Garofalo pinned the loss on poor fundamentals.

“We have to stay out of the penalty box,” Garofalo said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “We make a lot of mistakes on the ice. We have to stop turning pucks over. We don’t get pucks deep. We over handle the puck too much. We just have to keep it simple.” 

Stony Brook only mustered up 21 shots on goal in Friday’s bout. The team was without left winger Matt Minvera — its leading goalscorer — who was unable to play due to a disqualification stemming from the major penalty he committed last weekend.

With Minerva back, the Seawolves improved in the series finale. However, Saturday’s game still proved too challenging to win. They started the scoring just 5:37 into the game when Swanson scored his first career goal in the American Collegiate Hockey Association. With 3:49 remaining in the first period, the Rams answered back with a goal from Cordeiro to knot it at one. 

With just over six minutes remaining in the second period, Minerva benefited from a fortuitous bounce. From the high slot, he rifled a wrist shot over the net. However, the puck ricocheted off the glass and back towards the crease, where it bounced off Briggs’ back and into the net.

Just over two minutes after Minerva’s flukish goal, Rhode Island right winger Max Lockwood barreled into Stony Brook’s zone and took a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle. Goaltender Matvei Kazakov stopped the puck with his right pad, but he deflected it directly to a wide-open Mulhern, who easily knocked it into the open net to tie it at 2-2.

The Rams took their first lead more than halfway through the third period. Cordeiro protected the puck behind the Seawolves’ net and worked it back to left defenseman Mike LiCausi at left point, from where he blasted a slap shot. Rhode Island right winger Dennis Engelson redirected LiCausi’s shot past Kazakov to make it 3-2 with 7:11 remaining.

With an empty net and less than a minute left to play in regulation time, Stony Brook found its equalizer. From behind the Rams’ net, left winger Kristian Malec fed the puck to center Matteo Daita in front of the net. His one-timer was contested by right defenseman Tim Crane, but the puck squirted out to Miverva at the right side of the crease. Minerva hammered home his second goal of the night to send the game to overtime.

Garofalo stressed the importance of having Minerva’s goalscoring prowess back in the lineup.

“He is a natural goalscorer,” Garofalo said. “You need those guys. He does need to work on some of the other areas of his game, but one thing he does have is a really good shot.” 

In overtime, the Seawolves went out with a whimper. A roughing call against left defenseman Andrew Mancini and a bench minor on Garofalo put Stony Brook in a two-man disadvantage in the final minute of the extra frame. On the five-on-three, Rhode Island center Zac Bell found Mulhern open in the left faceoff circle and he one-timed it past Kazakov to walk it off.

Despite the loss, the Seawolves pieced together a much better effort. They outshot the Rams 35-21, but it still was not enough.

Following the loss, Garofalo made the team’s biggest weakness abundantly clear.

“Depth,” Garofalo said. “We don’t have depth in scoring.”

Injuries have factored into Stony Brook’s offensive woes. Though right winger Devin Pepe and center Frankie Anastasio returned this weekend, the Seawolves were without left winger Victor Nikiforov. Their lack of depth hurt their special teams, as they went 0-for-4 on the power play and just 8-for-11 on the penalty kill.

Neither Barnikow or Kazakov were sharp in the series. Barnikow stopped just 28 of the 32 shots he faced for an .875 save percentage, while Kazakov turned aside 17 of the 21 shots he saw for an .810 save percentage.

In his lone appearance, Minerva led Stony Brook’s offense with two goals and an assist. Daita, Anastasio, Trazzera, Malec and left winger Eddie Molfetto all recorded an assist each.

The Seawolves will attempt to shake out of their slump next weekend when they go upstate to take on the No. 10 Niagara Purple Eagles. The Purple Eagles are 17-6-1 this season and 9-2-0 in Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League (ESCHL) games. The series will begin on Saturday with an 8:30 p.m. puck drop and the second leg will start at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.

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