Just as they appeared to be trending in the right direction, the Stony Brook hockey team suffered a crushing 7-3 defeat Saturday night at the hands of the University of Colorado Buffaloes at The Rinx in Hauppauge.
Stony Brook, who shut Colorado out in the first half of their weekend set, never held a lead in Saturday’s contest. With a 5-1 deficit through the first 40 minutes, the home team had to adjust its strategy heading into the third period.
“I said ‘Are you guys quitters?’ and they said no,” head coach Chris Garofalo said. “One word in my vocabulary that I barely use is quit. I said ‘Don’t be quitters’ and they went out there and really tried to close the gap in the score differential to keep it a little bit closer.”
Though the Seawolves managed to score twice in the final period, the damage had already been done. The Buffaloes tacked on two additional goals of their own in the third, becoming the third team to score seven or more goals against the Seawolves this season. The loss marks the first time since the 2011-12 season that the Seawolves have given up seven goals on three or more occasions.
“Effort was there for the whole game, execution wasn’t,” Garofalo said. “The two areas that cost us tonight were very simple. We didn’t score on the power play, again, and we didn’t stay out of the box. It was all special teams problems.”
The Stony Brook power play surrendered a short-handed goal to Colorado junior defenseman Trace Jablin with under five minutes left in the second period and has now failed to convert on its past 11 opportunities. The penalty killing unit also struggled in Saturday’s loss, conceding goals in two out of four short-handed situations.
Many of the issues, which eventually sunk the Seawolves, were avoided in the first period. Both teams finished the period with an equal number of scoring chances, but puck luck favored the Buffaloes and allowed them to take a 2-0 lead in the late stages of the opening frame.
With just over two minutes remaining in the first, senior defenseman Frank Sherding took matters into his own hands and carried the puck 150 feet down the ice and into the Colorado zone. The captain successfully evaded all five defensemen, wrapped around the net and found senior forward Brendan Calello on the back door who fired Stony Brook’s first goal into the yawning cage.
“It’s extremely important [to keep your head in the game] because you’re a leader on the team,” Sherding said. “People listen to you and people follow you, so if I can’t keep my cool, then the rest of the team can’t.”
Sherding’s ability to lead and persevere has been a big factor for the Seawolves this season. With the team heading to Syracuse this weekend and currently second place in the Eastern States Collegiate Hockey Association on the line, the captain will look to lead his team out of its most recent funk.
“They’re a division rival and a good team,” Sherding said. “We can’t drop a game when we go out there next week. We have to show them why we’re a number two team and why we can be a top team in the country.”
Game one of the two-game series against the Orange will be played Friday, Feb. 2 at 6:30 p.m. at the Tennity Ice Pavilion.