When the Stony Brook hockey team hosted No. 2 Adrian College last November, the teams split a weekend series, with Stony Brook earning a 3-2 victory before being shut out in a rematch the next day. With the two set for a rematch in the American Collegiate Hockey Association tournament round of 16, Stony Brook looked for a repeat of the former.
Instead, senior goaltender Austyn Roudebush continued his shutout streak against the Seawolves in the Bulldogs’ 4-0 victory, ending the Seawolves’ season.
“We didn’t beat ourselves today,” head coach Chris Garofalo said of his team’s effort. “The guys left it all on the ice and, unfortunately, the puck didn’t bounce our way. I was proud of the guys and I think that they did a good job working hard.”
After scoring eight times to beat the University of Pittsburgh Thursday night, Stony Brook’s offense ran dry Friday afternoon, failing to convert on 31 shots and four power play chances. Through the final 10 games of the season, the Seawolves averaged 2.9 goals per game, almost a full point below the league average.
“We can’t score,” Garofalo said. “It’s been the theme for the whole second half of the year. Yesterday we had eight goals but it wasn’t playing against a top four team in the country. You’ve got to be able to penetrate the front of the net and we just didn’t do that. We didn’t penetrate the front of the net and we couldn’t get one past [Roudebush].”
Adrian broke the ice just over six minutes into the first period when a Stony Brook turnover in the defensive zone allowed sophomore forward Mark Fratarcangeli to deposit a centering-pass behind sophomore goalie Brandon Rathwell. Freshman forward Chris Donaldson and sophomore forward Marcus Rose tacked on goals in the second period, and senior forward Brad Kobryn put the game on ice with a power play goal at the midway point of the third.
Before playing Adrian on Friday, the Seawolves punched their ticket to the round of 16 Thursday night with a win against Pittsburgh. After conceding the first goal of the game to senior forward Craig Mazzotta, Stony Brook scored eight unanswered goals to advance in the tournament.
Stony Brook’s 8-1 win over Pittsburgh was the club’s largest victory at the ACHA tournament since online records began in 2013. It was also the first time the team registered more than six goals since Dec. 2, when Stony Brook defeated West Chester University 13-0.
“I think it was a combination of things,” Garofalo said of his team’s slow start. “We didn’t get to practice last night so we didn’t get our legs loose. We got off the bus at 10 [p.m.] because we had the snowstorm to deal with. I think feeling out each other, feeling out the other team, a little bit of nerves. But once we popped that goal in, the short-hander, I think everything just switched for us.”
Junior forward Brad Riccardi provided the Seawolves’ tying goal midway through the opening period. Senior defenseman Frank Sherding carried the puck into Pittsburgh’s end short-handed before centering to Riccardi who slipped one through Pittsburgh sophomore goalie Matthew Snader’s five-hole. The Seawolves went on to kill the penalty and eventually went to the locker room tied at 1-1 through 20 minutes.
Early in the second period, senior forward Ori Benyamini cut past three Pittsburgh defenders before putting a shot through the legs of Snader to grab a 2-1 lead. Freshman defenseman Brendan Pepe and freshman forward Keith O’Brien tacked on one goal each in the second and third periods. Both freshman forward Ian Bernes and sophomore forward Michael Kosina scored in the final 20 minutes to round out the offensive onslaught. Fourteen Seawolves registered at least a point in the blowout victory, with six different goal-scorers getting on the board.
“It was nice to see secondary scoring,” Garofalo said. “I said that in the locker room. Pepe scored and that was big. O’Brien had two, Kosina had a goal. We just had other guys take the load off of some of the players that normally do the work.”
Secondary scoring has been an issue for Stony Brook down the stretch. The Seawolves relied heavily on their defense for goal production in the second half. Sherding produced seven points in the final 10 contests, while junior defenseman Frank Coscia, who was out of the lineup in the tournament for personal reasons, registered 11 in the same span. Garofalo acknowledged the need for improvement before next season.
“Let me put it this way,” Garofalo said. “We didn’t win nationals, we didn’t win playoffs, and we need to improve. We need to improve as individuals and we need to improve as a team. They say don’t fix what isn’t broken but something’s broken because we didn’t win.”
Garofalo has already begun preparations for the 2018-19 season. The head coach and general manager alluded to a few new additions to improve his team moving forward.
“I’ve been working on next year for the past four months,” Garofalo said. “My job as a coach is to try to develop the players that are here but also to bring in guys that can help us. We need production guys who are going to be able to put the puck in the net. I’m going to look for players that are going to help us in all different positions.”
Stony Brook will need to replace some key players who are graduating in May. Seniors Benyamini and forward Brendan Calello both had a large impact down the stretch, and each registered a point in the win against Pittsburgh.
“I’m proud of not only how they grew as players, but as men,” Garofalo said. “I’m hoping Brendan gets into law school and Ori already has a job lined up. I just know they’re going to do well in life.”
Sherding will also be moving on from Stony Brook Hockey this year. The captain finished his final season with four goals and 17 assists while leading the team with 56 penalty minutes.
“What can I say about Frank Sherding, our captain?” Garofalo said. “He’s our leader, he’s our top defenseman, and he’s also a force to reckon with on the ice. You know there’s a saying ‘a man amongst boys?’ I feel he’s like that when he plays hockey, he’s a man amongst boys.”
The next time Stony Brook hits the ice will be in September of this year.