Plattsburgh Grabs Yet Another Regular-Season Title; Oswego Wins Battle For Second
The Plattsburgh Cardinals took matters into their own hands by defeating Cortland, Oswego, and Potsdam to win the regular-season title. Oswego and Potsdam fought a marvelous battle for second as they swapped positions three times down the stretch, with Oswego finally taking the spot.
The remaining playoff positioning shook out with Fredonia taking fourth thanks to three wins; Geneseo almost stumbled, but wound up fifth; and Cortland dropped to sixth due to three losses in their last three games. The second season begins this weekend.
Team By Team Report
PLATTSBURGH (Ranked No. 4) — The Cardinals ran the table the final week of the season, and in the process won their third consecutive league title. Against Cortland State, Plattsburgh State jumped out to a 3-0 lead, and though Cortland tried to make a game of it, the result was never really in doubt as Plattsburgh won, 6-3. Peter Ollari and Derrick Shaw scored twice. Mark Cole and Mark Coletta also scored. Niklas Sundberg made 32 saves. The Cardinals then played a tough defensive contest against Oswego State that Plattsburgh broke open with a shorthanded goal by Rob Retter midway through the third en route to a 5-2 win. Guy Come, Jason Kilcan, Joe Dolci, and Brent Armstrong got the other goals. Sundberg made 36 saves. Sundberg helped to wrap up the season by shutting out Potsdam State, 5-0, with 31 saves. Shaw got a pair, and Dolci, Kilcan, and Brendon Hodge scored. Plattsburgh’s reward for finishing in first place is a week and a half rest before hosting the semifinal round.
OSWEGO (Ranked No. 9) — Third. Second. Third. Second. Oswego State finally won the see-saw battle for second place and the last bye position. Entering the week in third place, the Great Lakers jumped into second by beating Potsdam State, 5-1, with a four goal third period outburst. Nate Elliott scored twice, and Joe Pecoraro, Matt Vashaw, and Craig Bland got single tallies. Tyson Gajda made 39 saves. Then, Oswego lost to Plattsburgh State, 5-2, dropping them back into third place. Down 2-0, Brian St. John and Mike Lukajic tied the game, only for the Lakers to let up a shorthanded goal and eventually lose the game. However, Oswego won their final game of the season over Cortland State, 5-1, and found themselves back in second place. Vashaw and Pecoraro got a pair. John Hirliman also scored. Joe Lofberg got the call and made 23 saves. Oswego has this week off to prepare to host the semifinal round.
POTSDAM — The Bears let too many opportunities slip by during the season, and losing twice to Oswego State sealed their fate for a third place finish. In the Oswego game, Kevin Shaver gave Potsdam State a 1-0 lead, but that was all she wrote as Potsdam lost, 5-1. The Bears briefly moved back into second with a 5-3 win over Cortland State. Anthony Greer, Joe Munn, Erick Curtis, Sean Darke, and Chris Lee all scored. Venturelli, who the night before lost his first SUNYAC game, came back to win with 25 saves. The Bears couldn’t hold onto second spot as they were shutout by Plattsburgh State, 5-0. The killer was giving up two shorthanded goals on the same power play. Potsdam will now have to play this weekend, at home, against Cortland State in the play-in round.
FREDONIA — The Blue Devils sealed fourth place and home ice in the first round by beating the team they will face again this weekend, Geneseo State, 4-1. After letting up the first goal, Dan Showalter, Christian Fletcher, B.J. Bouschor, and Geoff Strack scored. Will Hamele made 37 saves for the win. Fredonia State was surprised early against Brockport State, falling behind 2-0, but came back for a commanding 8-3 win. Eight different Fredonia players scored. Hamele made 30 saves. Fredonia ended the season on a winning note, beating Buffalo State, 5-2. Erik Hlavaty led the way with a pair of goals. Fredonia hosts Geneseo State this weekend in a pair of playoff games.
GENESEO — Sometimes, you never know which Geneseo State team will show up. Geneseo dropped two games that put them on the edge for a playoff spot, but came back to win their last game and make it into the postseason. Geneseo lost to Fredonia State, 4-1, with Aaron Coleman scoring the lone goal. Geneseo got embarrassed by Buffalo State, 9-4. All three goalies saw action in an effort to stop the onslaught. Peter Boudette, Coleman, Jack Staley, and Bryan Bowser scored. Finally, Geneseo got their act together and wiped out Brockport State, 10-3. Coleman scored four goals with six other players getting single tallies. Geneseo ended up in fifth place and will travel to Fredonia for the play-in round.
CORTLAND — Not too unexpectedly, Cortland State lost their three final games of the season as they faced the top three teams in the league. Yet, they had a large enough lead built up to still be able to make the playoffs. First, they lost to Plattsburgh State, 6-3, in a game they made close in the third period. Trevor Bauer, Brendon Hyde, and Greg Menchen scored. Then, Cortland lost to Potsdam State, 5-3. Menchen scored twice and Scott Louis got one. Finally, the Red Dragons lost to Oswego, 5-1. Menchen scored the lone goal after it was 5-0. Cortland will travel up to Potsdam for their first playoff appearance in a long, long time.
BUFFALO STATE — So close, yet so far. The Bengals had their finest season in school history, finishing for the first time without an overall losing record at 12-12-1. However, they missed the playoffs by two points. Buffalo State kept their hopes alive with two big wins over the weekend, 8-5 against Brockport State and 9-4 against Geneseo State. The Brockport game saw Todd Nowicki get a hat trick with five other players scoring goals, and both Harley Pottratz and Nick Berti see action in net. The Geneseo game saw Nowicki score another two goals with six other players scoring. Berti made 44 saves. Buffalo State still needed help to make the playoffs, but it didn’t matter as they lost to Fredonia 5-2, despite having a 2-1 lead. Rockey Reeves and Joe Urbanik scored, and the goaltender tandem shared duties again. The Bengals season comes to an end with high hopes looking ahead to next year.
BROCKPORT — The Golden Eagles mercifully had their season come to an end, but not before suffering some big losses. They dropped the Buffalo State game in an 8-5 shootout. Brendon Marineau scored a pair. Michael Cameron, Scott Winkler, and Nick Smyth scored. Brockport State then lost to Fredonia, 8-3, despite leading 2-0. Smyth got two, and Winkler got one. Then Brockport got pounded by Geneseo, 10-3. Cameron, Jeffrey Everhart, and Winkler scored. Brockport would like to forget about this year, and regroup for next season.
First Round Playoff Previews
These are first to three points series with a mini-game to immediately follow the second game, if necessary. The first two games will not have overtime.
CORTLAND (No. 6) at POTSDAM (No. 3) — Potsdam was hoping to have a bye this week, and Cortland is in the playoffs for the first time since 1993, making this a potentially interesting matchup.
Potsdam can shoot. Their shot totals in some games are through the roof. The problem is what you are supposed to do with those shots — put the puck in the net. In that category, they have often fallen short, taking a step backwards from last year’s productivity despite returning nearly all of their offensive stars. They rank 5th in the league in this category, and their top scorer in conference games is a defenseman, Dave Weagle (6-10–16), though overall it’s Joe Wlodarczyk (14-15–29). Defensively, Potsdam improved over last season thanks to standout freshman Ryan Venturelli. Venturelli doesn’t look spectacular, but he stops the puck, which is really all that matters. Overall, Potsdam ranks 3rd in the league in goals allowed and penalty killing and 15th nationally in both categories.
Cortland won the games they should have won and lost the games they should have lost, with a few surprises thrown in there. Special teams is not their forte, ranking last in penalty killing and next to last on the power play. Their offense and defense ranks pretty much where they ended up in the standings. In other words, nothing stands out for Cortland, but they can be a dangerous team not to be overlooked. Greg Menchen sits 10th in the league in overall scoring (17-14–31), and if any one of the goaltending tandem of John Larnerd and Mark Paine are on top of their game, they can beat you singlehandedly.
Potsdam defeated Cortland all three times this year, 5-3, 6-2, and 5-3. Can they do it five times? They should as long as they do not look past this weekend. But, here’s one interesting stat to consider. The third period is when Cortland scores more goals than any other period. It’s also when Potsdam lets up the most goals of any period.
GENESEO (No. 5) at FREDONIA (No. 4) — This is a classic Jekyl and Hyde series. Which Geneseo team will show up? The one that beat Oswego and tied Potsdam, or the one that got blown out by Buffalo State and Hobart? And which Fredonia team will show up? The one that tied Potsdam and beat Oswego, or the one that lost to Buffalo State and tied Cortland? Also, it might appear that Geneseo actually has an advantage playing at Fredonia as the Ice Knights do much better on the road (9-4-2) than at home (3-7-0).
Fredonia depends on defense. They have allowed just 62 goals this year, second in the league, and 32 goals within conference play, tied for first with Plattsburgh. Their defense ranks tenth nationally. It all starts with Will Hamele who led the league in conference GAA (1.92) and save percentage (.941). They are going to have to rely on defense, because offensively, Fredonia rates near the bottom of the league, overall only outscoring Brockport. Their top scorer, Dave Mugavero, is 13-10–23 overall, which is good for 22nd spot.
Geneseo’s offense is very easy to analyze. It consists of one line — Aaron Coleman, Jack Staley, and David Bagley, who are the top three scorers in the SUNYAC. Nationally, they rank 4th, 7th, and 12th, respectively. Coleman is also tops in the league in power-play goals and scoring as well as 5th nationally. The good news is that Geneseo is capable of winning just on this one line. The bad news is that if the opposition stops this line, Geneseo is in big trouble. Then, they will have to rely on Kevin Koury, who has never really gotten his due in goal. Following on the heels of All-American Mark Breeden was a tough task, and with a poor defense last year inflating his GAA, Koury was often overlooked. However, he stacks up with the best of them, and can win a game for the Ice Knights if necessary.
Last year, Geneseo stunned Fredonia in the first round when this was a 6th place vs. 3rd place matchup. This season, Fredonia beat Geneseo twice, 5-2 and 4-1. Last year could repeat itself if Fredonia slips against the top Geneseo line and Koury holds off the anemic Fredonia offense. However, don’t expect that to happen. Fredonia will remember last year, pay attention to Coleman et al. and sweep the series.