Without its head coach present on the sideline, the No. 17 Stony Brook club hockey team was swept by one of the nation’s best teams.
On Jan. 21, the Seawolves (15-7-1, 6-2-0 ESCHL) traveled to Michigan for a weekend set against the No. 2 Adrian Bulldogs. The team was without head coach Chris Garofalo, who could not travel with the team due to an illness. His absence showed right away, as Stony Brook was destroyed 15-0 on Saturday to kick off the series. Sunday afternoon was more competitive, but the team still lost 4-3 in overtime.
In game one, the Bulldogs came out flying. During the first minute, goaltender Matvei Kazakov turned aside a pair of scoring chances before Adrian forward Connor Smith netted the game’s first goal. Just over six minutes later, the Bulldogs extended their lead to 2-0 when forward Tyler Fyfe scored on a two-on-one off an assist from forward Cameron Armstrong.
The offensive onslaught continued just four minutes later when Adrian forward Ethan Klemen scored on a sneaky turn around shot. Twelve seconds later, Fyfe got behind Stony Brook’s defense and scored his second goal of the opening frame to make it 4-0 Bulldogs. Adrian capped off its outstanding first period with a goal from forward Sam Spaedt at the 1:30 mark, taking a 5-0 lead into the second period.
Kazakov was pulled after the first period ended, but the story was much of the same for goaltender Thomas Sullivan. The Seawolves’ backup was rudely welcomed when Adrian forward Sebastian Smith — Connor Smith’s little brother — scored just 43 seconds into the second period. Just under three minutes later, defenseman Sheldon Nolan scored to make it 7-0.
The remaining minutes of the second period saw two different Bulldogs complete hat tricks. Fyfe scored a power-play goal for his third goal of the game with 7:56 remaining in the second. Just over five minutes later, the elder Smith scored a power-play goal of his own for his second of the night. In the waning seconds of the middle frame, Smith completed the hat trick with another goal to make it 10-0 Adrian.
The third period saw five more garbage-time goals from the Smith brothers, Klemen and forwards Brenden Stanko and Matthew Dicesare. Connor Smith’s fourth goal of the game gave him 28 for the season, allowing him to take sole possession of the American Collegiate Hockey Association lead.
Stony Brook’s defense failed its goalies on Saturday. The team allowed an astounding 54 shots on goal in the game, with plenty of them coming on breakaways and power plays.
Associate head coach Colin Brumsted — who stepped in for Garofalo in his absence — credited the loss to a lack of effort and a rough travel day.
“We just played our worst game possible,” Brumsted said in an interview with The Statesman. “Zero effort. We were not playing hockey. We weren’t playing our system, we weren’t doing anything right.”
Though game two was a much more highly competitive affair, the end result was the same as Saturday’s.
Much like game one, the Bulldogs dominated play in the first period. After pushing the Seawolves back into their own zone, Nolan took a shot which pinballed off of Armstrong and past Kazakov, giving the Bulldogs another early 1-0 lead. Adrian’s lead could have been much greater if not for the play of Kazakov, who made a number of incredible saves, stopping 26 of the 27 shots he faced in the opening frame.
The second period of game two was far and away the Seawolves’ best period of the weekend. After receiving an early power play, right winger Nick Zarrilli missed the net, leading to a fortuitous bounce right onto the stick of center Jesse Edwards. Edwards then put the puck past Adrian goaltender Noah Decottignies to tie the game just as their power play expired.
The game remained tied 1-1 until left winger Frank Anastasio scored his first goal as a Seawolf after swatting the puck off of Decottignies’ mask and in, giving Stony Brook its first lead of the series.
Brumsted has been thrilled with Anastasio’s play since joining the Seawolves, complimenting him for the energy and effort he plays with.
“Frankie’s a spark plug,” Brumsted said. “He always gives you 100%. Every time he gets on the ice, he’s in hard on the forecheck, he’s grinding it out and he’s going into the dirty areas of the ice. He does the little things right.”
In the final minute of the middle frame, the Seawolves received another power play. Seven seconds into the power play, center Conor Dempsey took a point shot, which created a rebound for Zarrilli to score and give Stony Brook a 3-1 lead heading into the third period.
The Bulldogs regained control of the game at the start of the final frame. After a slashing penalty by left defenseman Rob Distefano, Adrian defenseman Brodie Thornton cut Stony Brook’s lead in half on the power play when he roofed a backhand shot past Kazakov.
Kazakov made a number of acrobatic saves to keep the Seawolves ahead throughout the remainder of the third period, but the Bulldogs pressure proved to be too great. With 2:35 left in regulation, Fyfe scored his fourth goal of the series to knot the game up at three apiece to force overtime.
In extra time, Stony Brook had a glorious chance to capture a series split, as left defenseman Dom Molfetto ripped a slap shot off the crossbar and out on a five-on-three power play. Adrian’s penalty kill unit prevailed, taking the game down to the final two minutes of overtime.
With just over one minute remaining in overtime, Thornton put the Seawolves to bed, scoring his second goal of the game to complete the sweep for the Bulldogs.
The loss squandered one of Kazakov’s best efforts of the season, as he tallied 59 saves in 63 total chances.
“[Kazakov] was able to bounce back,” Brumsted said. “He was one of the guys that led the player’s meeting on Sunday morning before the game, so he knew he had to come in and perform and that he did.”
Unfortunately for the Seawolves, after losing left winger Matt Minerva and right defenseman Davin Van de Zilver to injury last weekend, left winger Filip Pomianek suffered a grade-one MCL sprain in Sunday’s loss. Left defenseman Andrew Mancini, who missed the weekend due to food poisoning, will be ready to return for Stony Brook’s next contest.
The Seawolves will be back in action for a home-and-home series against the Drexel Dragons to kick off the month of February. They will be on the road on Friday, Feb. 3 with opening puck drop scheduled for 7:45 p.m. The next day, Stony Brook will host Drexel, with the game beginning at 8:30 p.m.