Freshman forward Keith O’Brien carries the puck down the rink in a game against Rhode Island on Saturday, Oct. 14. O’Brien’s two goals helped give the Seawolves a lead that would end in a 4-2 victory against the Rams. PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVE STUFFLEBEAM

When junior defenceman Filip Akermark scored for Rhode Island 1:15 into Saturday’s game at The Rinx in Hauppauge, New York, there was a sense that for the first time this season, Stony Brook’s undefeated record may be in jeopardy. This 1-0 deficit was the first time the team trailed this year and as the seconds ticked away, it appeared they would head into the intermission down a goal.

Instead, the Seawolves kept their heads up and, on the offensive strength of their young forwards, skated to a 4-2 victory against the Rams.

“We stayed kind of calm,” head coach Chris Garofalo said about the team’s reaction to the early goal. “We really didn’t lose our focus. We kept going, just stayed our course, and it worked.”

Stony Brook scored the next four goals to secure its sixth straight win to start the season. The 6-0 record is the team’s longest undefeated streak in its 10-year history as an American Collegiate Hockey Association D1 club.

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Akermark’s goal put his team on top and gave Rhode Island most of the momentum in the period. However, a late slashing call provided the home team with a chance to even up the score before heading to the locker room, and Stony Brook did just that. Freshman forward Keith O’Brien’s second goal of the year tied the game at one with 26.2 seconds to go in the first period, capping off the opening frame.

The Seawolves came onto the ice ready to go for the second period and scored three times to turn the 1-1 tie into a lead. Freshman forward Joey Slevin scored his second goal of the weekend on a breakaway 38 seconds into the frame. Three minutes later, O’Brien struck on a power play for his second goal of the game, giving the team a 3-1 lead.

The scoreboard remained unchanged for most of the period until a 2-on-1 breakaway goal from sophomore forward Kevin Murphy. Murphy’s fourth goal of the season gave the Seawolves a 4-1 advantage through 40 minutes.

Stony Brook dictated the pace for most of the third period, but failed to convert on a number of quality scoring chances. Rhode Island found the back of the net once, but its comeback attempt came up short and Stony Brook won by a final score of 4-2.

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One particularly strong area of the Seawolves’ game was special teams. They put two pucks in the net with the man-advantage, and the penalty killing units held the Rams’ power play off of the board in all six of its opportunities.

“Special teams are always important, but today they were really special,” Garofalo said. “I’m not happy with the penalties we were taking and I also wasn’t too happy with the referee to be honest. I thought he was very inconsistent and I thought some of the calls were very questionable, but overall I was happy with our PK, our power play was good, and we’ve been doing very well on special teams.”

O’Brien added an assist to his stat line on the night, extending the trend of underclassman offense. Rookie forwards are responsible for eight of Stony Brook’s past 10 goals, with the other two scored being scored by Murphy.

“We felt [the tying goal] coming,” O’Brien said. “We knew that we’re the better team. We came out of the gate slow. We needed that power play goal to get into the second with momentum. We came out in the second and scored to quick ones and that was the game.”

The Seawolves hit the road next weekend for their first away series of the season at Ohio, playing two games on Friday, Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m..

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