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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’s disastrous year ends with first-round exit

Center Jesse Edwards carries the puck through the offensive zone against Drexel on Thursday, Feb. 15. Edwards scored the final goal of his career with the Stony Brook hockey team on Friday night. ANGELINA LIVIGNI/THE STATESMAN

One of the worst seasons in Stony Brook hockey team history reached its bitter end in the quarterfinals of the 2024 Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League (ESCHL) tournament.

The sixth-seeded Seawolves (7-17-4, 5-5-2 ESCHL) had their season ended on Friday by the third-seeded Rhode Island Rams (20-12-3, 6-3-3 ESCHL) at Revolution Ice Centre in Pennsylvania. Though it came in with hopes of embarking on a deep playoff run, Stony Brook dropped the win-or-go-home matchup 3-2 to quickly kill any hopes of being a Cinderella story.

After a quiet start to the contest, Rhode Island center Zac Riccitelli helped break the ice with just over three minutes left. After taking the puck away in the defensive end, Riccitelli found left defenseman Jonathan Shaw in the neutral zone. Shaw danced into the Seawolves’ zone and fired a wrist shot that went off the tip of goaltender Scott Barnikow’s glove and in to take a 1-0 lead.

With 4:40 remaining in the second period, the Rams doubled their lead. In the neutral zone, Rhode Island left winger Shane Mulhern bumped the puck up to Shaw, who made his way into the left faceoff circle. From there, he ripped a wrister past Barnikow’s blocker on the short side and in for his second of the game.

Despite being down 2-0, Stony Brook refused to roll over without a fight and began to mount a comeback with just a minute and a half remaining in the middle frame. After left defenseman Andrew Mancini flipped the puck out of his defensive zone, center Frankie Anastasio — who played Friday’s game on the right wing — collected it at the Rams’ blue line. Anastasio dished the puck over to center Jesse Edwards in the right faceoff circle, where he sent a blistering shot that went past Rhode Island goaltender Curtis Briggs’ glove and bar down.

Following the game, head coach Chris Garofalo sang the praises of Edwards and the intelligent play he brought to the program during his time as a Seawolf.

“Jesse’s smart — a great center and has high IQ,” Garofalo said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “He’s just consistent. He’s not flashy, but you know what you’re going to get out of him game in and game out.”

In the waning seconds of the middle frame, the Rams took a pair of penalties to put Stony Brook on a five-on-three power play. The two-man advantage carried over into the third period and the Seawolves found the equalizer just 17 seconds in. From the goal line at the left side of the offensive zone, right winger Justin Nakagawa slid a pass over to center James Kozicki at the doorstep of the crease, where he tapped it in to tie the game.

With just 5:28 left in the game, left winger Matt Minerva committed his second penalty of the contest. Just after the power play expired, Rhode Island continued to control the offensive zone and center Zac Bell one-timed a snap shot from the right faceoff circle that beat Barnikow on his glove side.

Unfortunately for Stony Brook, its best efforts to tie the game were stymied by Briggs and the Rams’ back end.

As the underdogs, Garofalo showed pride in his players for the fight they put up against Rhode Island, but he still hoped for better.

“I thought we played hard,” Garofalo said. “We had opportunities to win. Just another one-goal loss and that’s the epitome of our season. When we had those moments where we should’ve scored, we just didn’t.”

As a testament to the low-scoring affair, scoring chances were at a premium. The Rams narrowly outshot the Seawolves 23-20. Despite the loss, Stony Brook’s special team units stepped up, as it killed off both of its penalties and went 1-for-2 on the power play.

In his first-career playoff start, Barnikow had a shaky night. He turned aside 20 of the 23 shots he faced for an .870 save percentage.

On the other end of the ice, Edwards and Kozicki came through with a goal apiece. Anastasio, Mancini, Nakagawa and right defenseman Owen Larson all contributed an assist each.

For the future’s sake, Garofalo hopes that his team uses this season as a valuable learning experience and expects to see a fast turnaround next year.

“It’s been a tough year,” Garofalo said. “It’s been a learning year. This is uncharacteristic of Stony Brook hockey, but we’ll be back to where we were.”

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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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