As the second period drew to a close Saturday night, Jan. 13, at The Rinx in Hauppauge, the Stony Brook hockey team appeared to be in full control. Throughout the first 40 minutes of play, the team outscored their rival, the Liberty Flames, 2-0 and held a 24-14 lead in shots on goal. Then, Liberty showed why they are the defending Eastern States Collegiate Hockey Association champions, powering past Stony Brook for a 3-2 comeback victory.
“Our conditioning fell off the map in the third period,” head coach Chris Garofalo said. “That was a big contribution to it, but there were also two other reasons. We have to stay out of the penalty box and we have to score on the power play. We were 0-for-4 on the power play and you have to score when you have an opportunity like that.”
The Seawolves, who finished the game with 26 penalty minutes, gave up a game-tying power play goal to Flames sophomore forward Brock Thompson at the 10:33 mark of the third period. Two minutes later, sophomore defenseman Matt Cruickshank unleashed a rocket from the point that beat sophomore goaltender Payne Yoder for what became the game-winning goal.
Yoder, who entered the game with a 3-2 record against the Flames, had a strong performance despite the loss, finishing with a 90.3 save percentage.
“I think he played really well,” Garofalo said. “I don’t think any of those goals that were scored were his fault. The third one was a screen, the second one was a power play with guys in the high slot. He’s not a magician, overall he had a solid game and it’s not his fault it’s the team around him.”
Stony Brook does have reason to feel encouraged, however, since the first two periods were largely in their favor. Sophomore forward Devon Palmieri broke the ice with an impressive short-handed goal in the first period and senior forward Brendan Calello tacked on an insurance goal midway through the second. Palmieri’s goal extended his active scoring streak to a team-leading four games.
“We were on the penalty kill and I was trying to be aggressive since [junior goalie Cole Burack] came out and played it,” Palmieri said. “The goalie made a soft pass to his defenseman and the D kind of fumbled it. I just picked it up and shot at the empty net.”
Despite the positives of the night, the Seawolves will need to turn their game around to be successful on a consistent basis. Their inability to play a 60-minute game has been an issue all season, and it will be something that needs to be corrected soon to have success in the second half.
“We need to play 60 minutes,” Palmieri said. “That’s been our biggest problem all year long. Obviously there’s no excuse for losing a game like that. We should’ve been playing 60 minutes and that’s all we’ve got to do. Just keep our game going.”
Garofalo said that he would “sleep on” the thought of starting Yoder again in Stony Brook’s second game against Liberty on Sunday, Jan. 14. Yoder started in the Seawolves’ 2-1 loss on Sunday, his first ever set of back-to-back losses in his career.