The Stony Brook hockey team celebrates after a game against the University of Rhode Island. At the season opener this past Saturday, the team beat out Kent State 3-0. KELLY ZEGERS/STATESMAN FILE

The Stony Brook hockey team kicked off its 2017-18 season with a 3-0 shutout victory over the Kent State Golden Flashes at The Rinx in Hauppauge on Saturday night.

Physical play was prevalent on both sides of the rink from the drop of the puck, resulting in 12 total penalties on the night. Kent State was guilty of seven infractions, allowing Stony Brook’s power play unit to cash in twice. On its first opportunity of the night, Stony Brook netted the first goal of the evening off the stick of senior forward Brendan Calello. The team had another successful power play conversion when sophomore forward Devon Palmieri put one past Kent State junior goaltender Alex Okicki, extending the lead to two.

“We really worked a lot in the past month on our power play,” head coach Chris Garofalo said. “We had a really good night on the power play and I’m happy about that.”

Stony Brook’s penalty-killers kept Kent State off the board in all of their power play opportunities, including a critical five-minute major penalty in the second period. Freshman forward Jack Nevicosi was ejected for illegal head contact against Kent State sophomore defenseman Jason Watts, leading to the five-minute advantage. Watts was taken off the ice to the locker room after struggling to get up for several minutes and has been diagnosed with a concussion.

“For the most part our guys didn’t retaliate,” Garofalo said. “They just focused on the task at hand, which is winning the game, and they did it.”

The third and final goal occurred midway through the third period when sophomore forward Chris Molnar fired a shot to the top shelf on a two-on-one breakaway. This goal extended the Seawolves’ lead to 3-0 and provided Stony Brook with all the insurance they needed to secure the win.

Stony Brook dominated possession of the puck for the majority of the game, managing 49 shots on goal against Okicki. He posted an impressive .939 save percentage despite facing an average of almost one shot per minute. But Stony Brook sophomore goalie Payne Yoder earned a shutout in his season debut, deflecting all of the Golden Flashes’ 24 shots. 

“I’ve been waiting for this since the end of nationals,” Yoder said. “When you lose [in the ACHA National Tournament] like that, you really just want to get back out there and start the new season. You really can’t have a better start than a shutout. It’s a good way to start the year and gives us good momentum.” 

Despite the game’s positive outcome, Garofalo still sees room for improvement as the team prepares for game two.

“Tomorrow we have to be better in our end, and we had 50 shots, we should score more,” Garofalo said. ”We have a lot of opportunities but we’re not burying the puck. But it’s the first game of the year and I’m proud of what the guys did. Overall, it’s a success.”

The Seawolves will try to keep their winning ways alive on Oct. 1 at noon when they host the Golden Flashes in the second game of the back-to-back at The Rinx.