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Bears slash Eagles' playoff hopes

By Brandon Wood
On February 19, 2013

  • The Brockport hockey team defeated Morrisville and Franklin Pierce Feb. 15 and 16 in its final weekend of play. Brockport finished the season 7-16-2 overall and 5-10-1 in the SUNYAC, and missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season. Robert Ranzenbach/PHOTO EDITOR
  • Senior Colby Spooner, right, scored two goals in Brockport’s 6-2 win over Franklin Pierce Saturday, Feb. 16. With the win Brockport improved to 7-16-2 overall, but were unable to clinch a spot in the SUNYAC playoffs. File photo, spring 2012

After getting help from two SUNYAC teams Friday, Feb. 15 to help it move closer to a playoff spot, the College at Brockport's ice hockey team did not get help from a third. Despite the Golden Eagles winning both games in their season's final weekend against SUNYAC foe Morrisville and non-conference opponent Franklin Pierce, Potsdam took the final playoff spot by beating Cortland Saturday, Feb. 16.

"[After the Franklin Pierce game] it was pretty somber in [the locker room]," Head Coach Brian Dickinson said. "I just told them 'There's nothing I can tell you that will make you feel better about the outcome of the overall season.' But we had a great weekend and we thanked them for finishing up [the season] the right way."

Entering Friday night, Brockport (7-16-2 overall, 5-10-1 SUNYAC) needed to defeat Morrisville, Oswego had to beat Potsdam and Plattsburgh had to beat Cortland to keep Brockport's slim playoff hopes alive. 

Dickinson said he wasn't going to give his team the famous Herb Brooks Miracle speech prior to its game against Morrisville Friday night, but he "had some quotes up his sleeve." After play Friday night, it appeared a miracle might be in the works because everything the Eagles needed to happen did occur.

The Eagles jumped out to an early lead over Morrisville when Chris Luker scored his second goal of the season on a shot from the point.

Brockport doubled its lead when senior Colby Spooner scored his first goal of the season.

"It felt really good [to score my first goal]," Spooner said. "Our line, myself, [Michael] Zagari and [Troy] Polino, we were all buzzing out there creating opportunities. It was a collective effort, not an individual one."

Morrisville converted two power play chances over the next period and a half to tie the game at two. Brockport finished the game 0-for-9 with a man advantage.

With the score still tied at two in the third period, freshman Shane Cavalieri scored the game-winning goal as Morrisville exited the box on the roughing penalty, its ninth of the game. Cavalieri led the team with nine goals this season and finished tied for seventh place in the SUNYAC for freshman scoring with 14 points.

With a late power play chance to tie the game, Jared Lockhurst stayed strong in net, making several key saves to keep the Mustangs from evening the score. Lockhurst made 25 saves in the win. During Lockhurst's injury-shortened season, he made 455 total saves, finishing fourth out of all SUNYAC goalies in save percentage and sixth in goals against average.

Luke Colavecchia scored an empty-netter to seal the 4-2 win for Brockport, knocking Morrisville out of playoff contention. For Spooner, eliminating Morrisville was important because he was on the team last year when Morrisville stopped Brockport from making the playoffs in the last game of the season.

"I got into the locker room [after the game] and there was pure enjoyment on everyone's face," Spooner said. "We talked about it after the second [period] that they had knocked us out last year so to have the opportunity to do the same thing back to them felt great."

With Oswego beating Potsdam 10-0 and Plattsburgh defeating Cortland 4-1, all Brockport needed was for Cortland to defeat or tie with Potsdam Saturday to secure its first playoff berth since the 2009-10 season.

The Eagles honored its two seniors, Spooner and captain Mike Hayward, Saturday, Feb. 16 on senior night in a game that had no impact on the playoff race against Franklin Pierce University from Rindge, N.H.

"We thanked the seniors for their time of service," Dickinson said. "They did a great job of leading us through the last couple of years."

Brockport jumped out to an early lead 55 seconds into the game when Spooner scored his second goal of the season.

Five minutes later, Franklin Pierce evened the score, but the tie only lasted one minute as Chase Nieuwendyk put the Eagles back on top for good.

Chris Cangro scored late in the first period on the power play and Chad Cummings gave the Eagles a 4-1 lead early in the second period to open the game up.

Nieuwendyk got his second goal of the game 10 seconds after Cummings' goal to put the game out of reach. Spooner scored the only other goal for Brockport in the third period. All three of Spooner's goals this season came in the team's final weekend.

Franklin Pierce was able to beat sophomore goalie Aaron Green only twice all evening. Green made 18 total saves throughout the game, which Brockport won 6-2.

The playoff miracle fell one game short as the news broke to the locker room that Potsdam had earned the final playoff spot by defeating Cortland 2-1.

While disappointed that his senior season ended without going to the playoffs, Hayward said he believes the prospects of the team in future seasons are "amazing." The team next season will be relatively similar with only two seniors leaving the team.

"I told the guys last night that this is the beginning of a dynasty," Hayward said. "It's amazing to see how much they've all developed this season. I can just imagine how great they'll be when they get a little older."

Dickinson agreed with Hayward, knowing that the future of Brockport hockey is bright with all the young talent currently on the team. 

"We told the freshmen that there's a lot to build for," Dickinson said. "When you look at the number of minutes the freshmen saw this year, they got a lot of valuable experience. Once around the league means a whole lot. I think a year older is a year stronger. Hopefully we can get off to a good start next year and compete for a home ice playoff spot."

According to Assistant Coach Nick Unger, Brockport already has "five or six" recruits to add to the team next season. Unger is the head of recruiting and was largely responsible for the class of 14 freshmen who joined the team this season.

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