Playoff Teams All But Decided; Positions Up For Grabs
This past week answered one question — who is going to be in the playoffs. Barring a miracle, Buffalo State is out, and the current top six will be in.
However, there is still the question of where those teams will wind up in the standings, who will get the byes, and where the games will be played. Even though Plattsburgh gained a point on second place, they don’t have first locked up, and could fall to third. Potsdam and Oswego are separated by one point for second. Since the top three teams all play each other in the last three games, everybody has their fate in their own hands.
Meanwhile, the next three playoff teams — Cortland, Fredonia, and Geneseo — are all tied for the last home spot. The schedule makers couldn’t have planned this any better.
PLATTSBURGH (Ranked No. 4) — The Cardinals not only maintained their pace, but gained a point, winning both games. The first victory they had to work for as Plattsburgh State defeated
Geneseo State, 4-3. Down 1-0 going into the second, Brent Armstrong and Bryan Murray put the Cards up 2-1. After Geneseo tied the game, third period goals by Eric Weidenbach on the power play and Ryan Wilson gave Plattsburgh a two goal lead. Twenty-seven seconds after the fourth goal, Geneseo cut the lead to one. However, Plattsburgh was able to hang on for the win. Niklas Sundberg made 18 saves. The second win was easy as Plattsburgh cruised to a 12-3 stomping of Brockport State. It was 7-0 before they allowed the opposition to score.
Amazingly, only Brendon Hodge had a multiple goal night with a pair. Ten other players scored goals. Frank Barker got the start and made 23 saves for the win. Plattsburgh finishes up the season by first traveling to Cortland and Oswego, where another sweep will clinch first place. If they don’t get it, they host Potsdam in what could be a game for first.
POTSDAM — The Bears stumbled just enough to prevent them having an opportunity at first place without some help. Even if they sweep the rest of their games, including beating Plattsburgh, Potsdam State cannot take first place unless somebody steals at least a point from Plattsburgh. Everything looked fine against Brockport State as Potsdam won, 6-3. The Bears took 3-0 and 6-1 leads. Mike Snow scored a pair (as well as being stopped on a penalty shot) as did Dave Weagle. Sean Darke (just 36 seconds into the game) and Anthony Greer (shorthanded) got the other goals. Todd Manley won with 19 saves. However, Potsdam lost a point the next night as they tied Geneseo State, 3-3. After falling behind 1-0, Darke scored twice within 31 seconds. Geneseo tied it before the first period ended.
Potsdam retook the lead in the second when Darke completed the hat trick. Geneseo tied it early in the third. Despite seven total shots in overtime, Potsdam getting four of them, neither team could win it. Later in the week, Potsdam played at Hobart and won, 5-2. Goal scorers were Joe Wlodarczyk with a pair, Kevin Shaver, Erick Curtis, and Darke. Venturelli got the win with 23 saves. The Geneseo tie may have hurt Potsdam’s chances for first, but it makes no difference for second, for the winner of the game at Oswego Friday will most likely claim second place in any case. Afterwards, Potsdam plays at Cortland and Plattsburgh.
OSWEGO (Ranked No. 10) — The Lakers did what they had to this past weekend. Barely. Oswego State needed overtime to beat Fredonia State, 3-2. Steve Cavallaro put Oswego up early on the power play, but Fredonia took a 2-1 lead into the second. Matt Vashaw tied it late in the second. Despite getting 16 shots in the third, Oswego was forced to go to overtime. There, Brian St. John was the hero that won the game. Tyson Gajda made 20 saves.
The next night, Oswego played a tough Buffalo State squad, but came out with a 4-2 win. This time it was Oswego who let in the first goal and then got the next two thanks to John Hirliman and Chris DiCarlo. Buffalo State tied it before Vashaw got the game winner late in the second. The only scoring in the third came on an empty netter by Derek Kern. Gajda made 24 saves.
Oswego returns home in what will be their two biggest games of the season — Potsdam and Plattsburgh. They will determine whether Oswego gets a bye or has to play in the first round. Oswego finishes up the season at Cortland.
FREDONIA — The Blue Devils had one last gasp attempt to get third place, but they didn’t get it done, losing to Oswego State, 3-2, in overtime. After falling behind 1-0, Jason Furness and Dave Mugavero scored to give Fredonia State a 2-1 first period lead. However, that would be all the scoring the Blue Devils would muster. Oswego tied it in the second and then won it in overtime. Fredonia got only 11 shots on goal after the first period. Will Hamele made 37 saves.
After that game, Fredonia was fighting for home ice in the first round, but they stumbled there too, tying Cortland State, 2-2. Dave Barnett gave Fredonia a 1-0 first period lead. Cortland scored twice in the second for a 2-1 lead heading to the third. Furness tied it up with 35 seconds left to go in the game. And that’s how it ended.
Fredonia now finds itself in a three way tie for fourth place with Cortland and Geneseo. That makes the last three games all must win no matter who they play, which happens to be Geneseo, Brockport, and Buffalo State, all on the road.
GENESEO — Last week, Geneseo State did Potsdam State a favor by defeating Oswego. This week, Geneseo returned the favor with a tie against Potsdam. However, Geneseo wasn’t out to do anyone a favor. They were looking out for themselves, and this puts Geneseo in a three way tie for fourth place and the last spot for home ice in the first round. First, Geneseo suffered a loss to Plattsburgh State, 4-3, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Geneseo took a 1-0 lead and then tied the game at two apiece on goals by Jack Staley. After falling behind 4-2, Matt Lester scored. Geneseo was unable to muster the tying goal. Kevin Koury made 25 saves. The tie against Potsdam came when Aaron Coleman scored four minutes into the third. Koury made 12 saves in the final and extra period, 32 total. David Bagley and Lester scored in the first period sandwiched around a pair of Potsdam goals.
The Ice Knights’ next game will be key to where they finish as they host Fredonia. That is followed by home games against Buffalo State and Brockport.
CORTLAND — The Red Dragons got the job done, and not just for a playoff spot, but possibly for home ice. But it wasn’t easy. Cortland State needed overtime to dispose of Buffalo State, 5-4, and virtually clinch a playoff spot. Cortland fell behind 2-0 and 3-1 in the first period with the lone goal scored by Shawn Ruddy. Cortland then scored the next three goals thanks to Scott Louis, Jeff Olsen, and Chris Cullen. However, Buffalo State tied the game up, and that required Trevor Bauer to win it in overtime. The goal came with 22 seconds left in the extra period. John Larnerd made 33 saves. After that key game came another key game against Fredonia State. Though a win would have been a lot better, a 2-2 tie placed them in a share of fourth place with Fredonia and Geneseo. Ruddy and Olsen scored in the second period, but first and third period goals by Fredonia ensured the tie.
Unfortunately for them, Cortland losses every tie-breaking scenario, and they have the toughest schedule of the other teams fighting for fourth as they play the top three teams in the league — Plattsburgh, Potsdam, and Oswego. At least all the games will be on their own ice.
BUFFALO STATE — It was a heartbreak weekend for the Bengals as they came into the second half of the conference schedule with such high hopes and excellent non-conference play, only to most likely miss out on their first playoff appearance. The dagger in the heart came with a 5-4 overtime loss to Cortland State. Buffalo State came out flying scoring twice in the first 1:42 by Sean Mask and Jason Comardo. After Cortland scored, Todd Nowicki gave the Bengals another two goal lead heading into the second. However, Buffalo State let in the next three goals, and needed Jeff Lacapruccia to tie the game. Overtime was 22 seconds too long as that was how much time was left when Cortland won it. The Bengals didn’t fold the tents, and came out strong the next night against Oswego, but fell short, 4-2. Nowicki gave the Bengals the early lead and then Joe Urbanik tied it in the second.
After falling behind again, Buffalo State pulled their goalie late despite being shorthanded, and ended up letting in an empty netter. The Bengals need a miracle to get into the playoffs, but that won’t help if they don’t sweep their last three games against Brockport, Geneseo, and Fredonia.
BROCKPORT — The Golden Eagles remained winless in league play, dropping both of their North Country contests. First, Potsdam State defeated Brockport State, 6-3. Brockport found themselves down early, 3-0, before Scott Winkler scored a second period goal. Steve Tippett did his best to keep his team in the game including stopping a penalty shot and a breakaway shortly afterwards. However, Potsdam scored another three straight goals before Brockport got on the scoreboard again with goals by Ryan Shannon and Darren Kennedy. Brockport got beat bad at Plattsburgh, 12-3. Brockport’s three goals all came in the second with two by Kenny Daleo and one by Brandon Marineau.
Brockport looks to salvage something out of the season as they host Buffalo State, Fredonia, and then travel to Geneseo.
Upcoming Game Of The Week
I’m a wimp. I admit it.
Think you’re not? Then you go select the Game of the Week. Go ahead. Would you pick Potsdam at Oswego? Despite Oswego’s domination in their first meeting this season, these two teams are more likely to play a contest that leaves the fans with cardiac conditions. Not to mention that second place is on the line.
Or, depending on the outcome of that game, the Plattsburgh at Oswego contest could have a significant impact on where the top three teams end up in the standings. Or why not Fredonia at Geneseo? They are deadlocked for the last home ice playoff spot, and are bound to play for keeps. Or maybe you’ll save your pick for the last game of the season, and depending on how the dominoes fall, select Potsdam at Plattsburgh, which could be for the league title.
Go ahead. Pick one. I dare you.