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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Stony Brook hockey splits with No. 10 Niagara

Left winger Kristian Malec skates behind the net and looks for a pass from right defenseman Brendan Fess against Liberty on Jan. 27. Malec scored a career-high three goals in a win at Niagara on Sunday. MACKENZIE YADDAW/THE STATESMAN

After extending its losing streak to six games, the Stony Brook hockey team ended this past weekend in style.

The Seawolves (6-14-4, 5-4-2 ESCHL) traveled up to Lewiston, N.Y. over the weekend and split a two-game set with the No. 10 Niagara Purple Eagles (18-7-1, 9-3-0 ESCHL). Stony Brook was shutout in a 6-0 blowout on Saturday before taking the league game 6-3 on Sunday.

In game one, Niagara drew first blood just prior to the halfway mark of the first period. On a five-on-three power play, Niagara center Adam Sojka fed left winger Charlie Belanger in the high slot, where he rifled a wrist shot past goaltender Scott Barnikow’s glove. 

Just over six minutes into the second period, the Purple Eagles doubled their lead. After the Seawolves turned the puck over in their own zone, Niagara right winger Jakob Kalin threw it to the crease. Left winger Tristan Taillefer was tied up in front, but the puck went off of his skate and into the net.

With 4:52 remaining in the middle frame, Taillefer aired out a pass to spring Belanger on a breakaway. Belanger made a slick forehand-backhand move to get Barnikow out of position, allowing him to easily deposit the puck into the wide-open net. 

The Purple Eagles tacked onto their lead just over seven minutes into the third period. From the left faceoff circle, Niagara right defenseman Seth Coulter ripped a wrist shot that Barnikow stopped with his blocker. However, the puck caromed to the front of the net before bouncing off Kalin’s leg and in.

Just under three minutes later, the Purple Eagles scored on another second effort when left winger Louis Chabot found the rebound on the doorstep of the crease and scored to make it 5-0.

With just under five minutes remaining in the game, Coulter scored on a sharp-angle shot from the right faceoff circle to put salt in Stony Brook’s wound.

Following the loss, head coach Chris Garofalo thought his team looked disinterested and sluggish. 

“I can handle it if we lose as long as we work hard and put our heart and soul into it, but we didn’t do that,” Garofalo said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “We just showed up and went through the motions like we didn’t want to be there.”

The Seawolves were outplayed in all facets of the contest, as they were outshot 39-22. In the special teams department, Stony Brook killed off four of its five penalties but went 0-for-3 on power plays.

However, the series finale was a different story, as the Seawolves bounced back to earn two points in the Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League standings.

Niagara opened the scoring just 42 seconds into the matchup when left defenseman Sam Davies threw a wrist shot towards the goal from the left point that deflected off Chabot and past goaltender Matvei Kazakov.

Just under five minutes later, left winger Mike Rocco — who played on the right wing on Sunday — forced a turnover in the Purple Eagles’ defensive zone that landed on left winger Victor Nikiforov’s stick in the high slot. Nikiforov took a quick shot that was denied by Niagara goaltender Jacob Dubinsky, but center Jesse Edwards buried the rebound.

Just over two minutes later, left winger Matt Minerva inadvertently gave Stony Brook its first lead of the weekend. Center James Kozicki played the puck up to Minerva, who led a two-on-one rush. Minerva tried to make a pass, but the puck ricocheted off the inside of Dubinsky’s right leg and in, putting the Seawolves up 2-1.

With just under four minutes remaining in the first period, Stony Brook doubled its lead when Dubinsky stuffed left winger Kristian Malec on a wraparound try. However, Malec won a battle for the loose puck in front of the cage and roofed it for the 3-1 lead.

The Seawolves rode their momentum into the second period, where Malec scored his second off a give-and-go with Kozicki at the 5:40 mark. Malec tried another wraparound, but this time, Dubinsky was not fast enough to get to the right post.

Following the goal, Dubinsky was pulled in favor of goaltender Grant Zell. The move sparked the Purple Eagles, as just 2:05 later, right winger Lucas Fancy won a race to a loose puck in the right faceoff dot and wired a slap shot past Kazakov to cut Stony Brook’s lead down to two.

Just 45 seconds later, Niagara struck again when left winger David Bunn worked the puck to left defenseman Quinn Schneidmiller at the left point. Schneidmiller rifled a blistering one-time slap shot over Kazakov’s right shoulder and in to bring his team within a goal.

A minute and a half later, Malec completed his hat trick on the power play for a much-needed insurance goal. From the right faceoff circle, Malec sent a cross-ice pass to right winger Justin Nakagawa. He quickly sent it back to Malec, who hammered a one-timer past Zell.

Garofalo believes that Malec’s performance on Sunday was his best yet.

“Today was the best game I’ve ever seen the kid play for us,” Garofalo said. “He was tenacious, he was confident, he was playing tough. He had a second or third jump in his step today.”

Kazakov and the Seawolves held strong defensively in the third period and with 1:32 remaining, center Matteo Daita sealed the game with an empty-net goal.

After being decimated on Saturday, Garofalo feels that his team played with an edge on Sunday.

“The guys had a chip on their shoulder,” Garofalo said. “They felt embarrassed and they played hard today.”

Though Stony Brook was outshot 46-27, it shot at a 22.2% clip. The Seawolves also won the special teams battle, as they went 1-for-4 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.

In the crease, Kazakov was outstanding. He turned away 43 of the 46 shots he faced for a .935 save percentage. Conversely, Barnikow struggled on Saturday, as he allowed six goals on 39 shots for an .846 save percentage.

Outside of Malec’s hat trick, Minerva co-led the team with three points in the series by scoring a goal and registering a pair of assists. Kozicki returned to the lineup this weekend and recorded three helpers. Rocco, Nikiforov, Nakagawa, right winger Devin Pepe, left defenseman Dylan Kowalsky and right defenseman Owen Larson all picked up one assist each.

Stony Brook will now wrap up its regular season with a three-game weekend. First, it will wrap up the season series with the Drexel Dragons at The Rinx on Thursday night. The Dragons are 12-14-2 overall this season and 4-7-0 in official ESCHL games after splitting a pair with No. 20 Delaware this past weekend. Puck drop is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. and it will count towards the ESCHL’s standings.

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About the Contributor
Anthony DiCocco
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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