A persistent forecheck led the way for a pair of season-opening Stony Brook victories at The Rinx in Hauppauge over the weekend, where the club ice hockey team topped Rhode Island, 6-1 and 4-3, on Friday and Saturday night respectively.
In the second game of the weekend, senior forward J.T. Hall scored a hat trick, with the third and final goal capping off the win with 3:23 to play in overtime.
“J.T., he thinks the game really well,” said head coach Chris Garofalo following Friday’s game. “He takes charge when he needs to. He’s a five-tool player, he helps us win in every area of the ice.”
In overtime, played at 4-on-4 in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, the puck came into the offensive zone on a clean entry on Hall’s stick. The captain had a pair of shot attempts — one stopped by the goalie, another stopped by the defense — before the puck ricocheted back to the blueline for a reset.
Senior defenseman Mike Cartwright started the play with a pass to his right to junior forward Chris Stemke, to whom the goalie committed to stop positionally. Stemke calmly returned the puck to the left, where Hall was waiting with a vacated net to end the game.
After the Seawolves had a 3-1 lead through two periods, the Rams forced overtime with a pair of third-period goals, including a tally with 5:50 to play in regulation.
Stony Brook survived a Rhode Island power play with under three minutes left to end the period tied, before Hall scored his third of the day, and fourth of the weekend, in overtime.
Friday’s contest was not as competitive, as Stony Brook scored early and often.
The Seawolves’ success was rooted in their strong play in the corners and along the boards. At times, the home team was physically dominant, with sophomore forward Ori Benyamini — all 5-feet-6-inches of him — leading the charge.
“Even Ori,” Garofalo said. “He’s not big in stature, but he throws big hits for his size. I was really impressed with his game.”
Benyamini, named the first star, deflected in a goal in the second period to give Stony Brook a 4-0 advantage. All four lines scored in the game, as the Seawolves had a 42-33 edge in shots on goal.
In net, sophomore Tyler Huberty stopped all but one Rhode Island shot — the lone miscue coming on a dribbler with 2:09 left in the game — in his first game as the team’s No. 1 goaltender, following the departures of Derek Wilms and Todd Scarola who combined for a 27-1 record last season.
“He competes,” Garofalo said of Huberty. “Every single shot, every single play, he’s passionate and he competes. He knows the opportunity is ahead of him, having sat behind two seniors last year.”
Stony Brook will play a pair of games on the road against Adrian College next weekend before returning to Long Island for two against Niagara on Oct. 15 and 16.