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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

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Stony Brook hockey to end regular season with home-and-home against NYU

Five Stony Brook hockey team skaters huddle to celebrate a goal against Drexel on Thursday, Feb. 16. The Seawolves will end their 2023-24 regular season with a two-game set against New York University. ANGELINA LIVIGNI/THE STATESMAN

After blowing last night’s game versus Drexel, the Stony Brook hockey team will be playing for statistics and pride this weekend in a meaningless series.

The Seawolves (6-15-4, 5-5-2 ESCHL) will now take on the New York University (NYU) Violets (10-6-4) in a home-and-home series to end the regular season. Game one will be played on Friday at 9 p.m. in New York City and the series finale will be held at The Rinx on Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

Stony Brook currently has 12 points in the Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League’s (ESCHL) standings. The Seawolves could earn the fifth or sixth seed in the postseason tournament depending on the results of No. 21 Delaware’s two-game series with Syracuse on Saturday and Sunday.

As for NYU, it is on probation for violating the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s (ACHA) scheduling rules last year. As punishment, none of the Violets games against ESCHL opponents count towards the conference standings. Due to that, they are ineligible to make the 2024 ESCHL postseason tournament. In the ACHA’s national rankings, they are sitting at No. 40 due to a weak strength of schedule, making it impossible by this point to clinch an at-large bid to the national tournament.

Coming into the series, NYU is just 3-6-3 against ESCHL teams. Despite their struggles against ESCHL opponents, the Violets are averaging 3.45 goals per game through 20 games this season.

NYU center Adam Svoboda is the team’s most dangerous threat. Through 20 games, the captain leads his team in both assists (18) and points (26). He ranks ninth in the ESCHL in helpers this year. Svoboda has also buried eight goals, which are tied for the second most on his team.

Svoboda’s running mate has been winger James Orne. Orne is playing just short of a point-per-game pace, tallying 19 across 20 games. His 11 goals scored lead the team.

Complementing Svoboda and Orne are a trio of rookie forwards: wingers Charlie Gardephe and Bryan Cook along with center Frank Tsiouvaras.

Gardephe’s 18 points and 10 assists rank third on the Violets. Like Svoboda, Gardephe has also scored eight goals this season. Cook and Tsiouvaras have recorded 14 and 11 points, respectively. Cook has found the back of the net six times and added eight assists, while Tsiouvaras has knocked in four goals and tallied seven helpers.

Center Stellios Bizekis and winger Joe Solovey have been respectable depth scorers, as well. Both players have tallied six goals and three assists apiece.

Several of NYU’s blueliners are also known to activate offensively. Defenseman Jackson Oleson has scored six goals this season, which are tied for the third-most amongst all ESCHL defenseman. He also ranks sixth in points (17) amongst defensemen and seventh in assists (11).

Defensemen Josh Stich and Alex Svoboda — Adam’s younger brother — are also threats in the offensive zone. Stich’s 16 points rank seventh amongst ESCHL blueliners while his 10 assists rank ninth. Svoboda has scored three goals and racked up six helpers.

The Violets’ deep offense will be contested by a Stony Brook defense that has struggled all season. Through 25 games this season, the Seawolves have surrendered 4.08 goals per game overall and a slightly better 3.72 mark against ESCHL opponents. Additionally, they have allowed 39.0 shots per game in ACHA action.

Stony Brook’s blue line is made up of left defensemen Andrew Mancini, Dylan Kowalsky, Joey Trazzera and Garth Swanson. Right defensemen Nolan Towne, Brendan Fess, Teddy Valenti, Owen Larson and Jon Critelli all flank them.

Defending the crease will likely be goaltenders Matvei Kazakov and Scott Barnikow. Through 13 games this season, Kazakov has struggled to an .899 save percentage and a 3.74 goals against average. However, he has made 30.9 saves per game on average. Barnikow boasts a slightly better .904 save percentage and 3.68 goals against average through 13 appearances. He has also faced a lot of rubber, denying 31.2 shots per game.

However, goaltender Ben Monsivais made his first start on Thursday as a showcase for next season, meaning goaltender Heath Goldsmith could potentially make his collegiate debut this weekend. Monsivais posted an .842 save percentage in his only start. As for Goldsmith, while playing for both the Long Beach Shredders and the Fresno Monsters of the United States Premier Hockey League, he saved 89.9% of the shots he faced last year.

Like the Seawolves, the Violets have had their fair share of defensive woes this season, as they have allowed 3.7 goals per contest across 20 games this season. Alongside Oleson, Stich and Alex Svoboda, defensemen John Martin, Judah Volodarsky, Jack Kosinski and Kunal Gangwani will round out NYU’s defensive core.

The Violets’ goaltenders have not helped matters, as all of them own sub-.900 save percentages. As NYU’s primary starter this season, goaltender Chris Cataldo has posted an .889 save percentage, 3.40 goals against average and one shutout through 13 games.

Backup goaltender Ryan Füeg has struggled mightily, as he possesses a 4.33 goals against average and an .882 save percentage across eight games despite logging a shutout. In one start, goaltender Daniel Onatsky saved just 24 of the 27 (88.9%) of the shots he faced.

Since the Violets have trouble keeping the puck out of their own net, the two-game set represents a chance for Stony Brook to continue its recent offensive surge. On average, the Seawolves are scoring just three goals per game overall and 3.11 in ESCHL play, but they have scored 11 times over their past two contests.

As he has done all season, left winger Matt Minerva will be the engine that powers Stony Brook’s offense. Through 21 games, Minerva has compiled a team-leading 14 goals and 24 points. He can also distribute the puck, as his 10 assists co-lead team alongside right winger Justin Nakagawa. Nakagawa is second on the team with 16 points and has notched a goal and an assist over his last two games.

Down the middle, the Seawolves’ depth is being tested once again, as center Frankie Anastasio will be out this weekend after missing the team’s last two games due to a shoulder injury. Nonetheless, centers James Kozicki, Matteo Daita and Jesse Edwards will continue to play a big role for Stony Brook.

Kozicki has been limited to 18 games this season but has made his presence felt with four goals and eight assists. Daita has enjoyed a breakout campaign, as his six goals are tied for the second-most on the squad along with Nakagawa. Daita’s seven assists give him 13 points, which rank third on the roster. Edwards has been solid in a middle-six role, burying six goals and racking up five helpers.

On the wing, right winger Devin Pepe and left winger Kristian Malec are players to keep an eye on. Pepe has scored just two goals and six assists, but he has dished out a dime in each of his last two games as he looks to finish his final season strong. Malec has tallied five goals and four assists over the past eight games, headlined by a hat trick last Sunday at No. 10 Niagara.

On a similar note to Pepe, look for center Nick Zarrilli to try and wrap his final regular season up on a higher note. Zarrilli has just one goal and two assists to this point but will definitely get a chance, especially on Saturday night, which will be the Seawolves’ senior night.

At the point, Larson, Towne and Mancini are all dangerous. Larson leads the team’s defensemen with 11 points (two goals and nine assists), while Towne is second with 10 (one goal and nine assists). Mancini has netted four goals and added four assists.

In regards to special teams, Stony Brook’s tough penalty kill will battle it out with NYU’s potent power play. According to the ACHA’s website, the Violets are operating at a 25% clip with the man-advantage, which ranks second in the ESCHL. On the other side, the Seawolves have killed off 83.1% of their penalties this season, which is the third-best mark in the league.

Conversely, the matchup between Stony Brook’s power play and NYU’s penalty kill is a case of a stoppable force versus a moveable object. The Seawolves have converted on just 17.0% of their power plays this season, which is tied for the worst mark in the ESCHL. The Violets’ penalty kill has been just as bad, thwarting just 70.2% of the power plays they have faced — the second-worst rate in the league.

The home-and-home series will be the first time Stony Brook squares off against NYU since November 2022. Last season, the Seawolves owned the Violets, winning three of their four matchups against them. Of course, much has changed since then.

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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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