Potsdam Controls Cortland; Geneseo Wipes Out Stunned Fredonia
One series went as expected; the other did not.
Potsdam easily got by Cortland despite a stumble at the end of the second game, 4-0 and 7-5. Meanwhile, in a series that most expected Fredonia’s defense to control, it was the other way around as Geneseo let in just one goal and allowed no more than 20 shots each game as the Ice Knights dismantled Fredonia, 6-0 and 4-1. This sets up the same semifinal pairings as last year — Geneseo at Plattsburgh and Potsdam at Oswego. It’s deja vu all over again.
The format remains the same — a first to three-point series with a minigame to immediately follow the second game, if necessary. The first two games will not have overtime.
POTSDAM d. CORTLAND, 2-0 — Except for the final 24 minutes of game two, Potsdam had this series under control as they swept Cortland State, 4-0 and 7-5.
The first period of the series was scoreless as Potsdam got on the board early in the second period on a goal by Mike McCabe at 2:24. It took almost 24 minutes before another goal would be scored when Chris Lee gave the Bears a 2-0 lead. McCabe sealed the victory with a shorthanded tally seven minutes later, and Anthony Greer provided the icing on the cake with 15 seconds left on the clock. The star of the game was Ryan Venturelli, who got a shutout in his first collegiate playoff game with 27 saves.
Game two looked like it was going to be a blowout, but turned out to be a wild affair. Cortland took their one and only lead of the series early on a goal by Matt Donskov. Then it was all Potsdam as they scored the next seven goals. Mike Snow and Erick Curtis (on the power play) gave the Bears a 2-1 lead after two. Brendon Knight made it 3-1 early in the second, and Cortland called timeout to try to settle things down. It worked for about seven minutes. Then, Knight got his second goal, this time on the power play, and a few minutes later Mike Smitko scored a shorthander. Cortland changed goalies, but less than two minutes later, Jim Quilty scored followed a minute later by Dave Weagle.
At 7-1, it appeared the game was all but over. However, Cortland’s most productive period is the third, and that is Potsdam’s weakest. Dave Ambuhl scored for Cortland before the second period was out. Then Mike Schall scored early in the third, Donskov got his second shorthander midway through the period and Schall scored again with just under six minutes remaining. Suddenly, it was a game again, but Cortland was unable to score another despite having their goalie pulled for over a minute.
Cortland ends the season, but making the playoffs for the first time since 1993 is something to build on for next year. Meanwhile, Potsdam moves onto the semifinal round, where they travel to Oswego to renew that great playoff rivalry.
GENESEO d. FREDONIA, 2-0 — Next time, don’t listen to us. For the second year in a row, we picked Fredonia to beat Geneseo in the first round. For the second year in a row, Geneseo made mincemeat out of our prediction, and dominated Fredonia for an upset sweep, 6-0 and 4-1.
All the scoring in the first game came in the second period. That period alone defined the series as the Geneseo team with the prolific offense came out this weekend, while Fredonia’s vaunted defense failed. Before the series, it was announced that Fredonia’s Will Hamele was named the SUNYAC Player of the Year. Yet, Hamele ended up surrendering 10 goals for the series while Kevin Koury allowed just one. That second period saw David Bagley and Matt Lester score twice, with Lester’s goals coming 37 seconds apart. Aaron Coleman got the first goal, and Kyle Langdon got the only power-play tally. Jack Staley had three assists. Koury made 20 saves.
Geneseo’s offense was even hotter for the second game as they outshot Fredonia, 43-19. Only the efforts of Hamele kept the scoring lower than the night before, but Koury’s 18 saves ensured Geneseo of the sweep. Second period goals by Coleman and Andy Ford 1:15 apart was all the Ice Knights needed for the win. Fredonia scored a power-play goal in the third to give them hope, but Bryan Bowser and Jason Gurnett made sure this one didn’t slip away.
Again, just like last year, Geneseo travels to Plattsburgh for the semifinal round. For Fredonia, their season ends on a bitterly disappointing note for the second year in a row.
GENESEO (No. 5) at PLATTSBURGH (No. 1) — Geneseo is flying high after defeating Fredonia last weekend. However, they will have to come back down to Earth when they play Plattsburgh State, or this could get ugly.
Yes, Geneseo has a potent offense, but Plattsburgh’s is better. In league play the Cardinals score over six goals a game, and overall they average a tick better than five per game. Although Geneseo has the top three scorers in the league in Coleman, Staley, and Bagley, Plattsburgh spreads their offense around. And their top scorers, Jason Kilcan, Brendon Hodge, and Joe Dolci are nothing to sneeze at. Geneseo outdoes Plattsburgh on the power play, but the Cardinals do not commit many penalties, and Plattsburgh is number one on the penalty kill while Geneseo ranks near the bottom, thus giving Plattsburgh the number one special teams in the league.
It’s the defense that’s going to be where the difference really matters. Plattsburgh let in 2.32 goals per game this year, Geneseo 4.15. Geneseo may have been able to stop Fredonia’s anemic offense, but Plattsburgh is on another level. Plattsburgh defeated Geneseo both times during the regular season, 6-4 and 4-3.
True, Plattsburgh has not played with the domination and consistency they have shown the past few years, and Geneseo is a better team than last year. However, this is the playoffs, and Plattsburgh always comes out to play this time of year, and at home they are virtually unbeatable in the second season. The Cardinals take this one in a sweep.
POTSDAM (No. 3) at OSWEGO (No. 2) — Here we go again! Get in, buckle up, and hang on. We’re going for another wild Potsdam-Oswego playoff ride. No matter what the circumstances are when these teams meet in a two game series, it has always caused stock in nitroglycerin pills to soar. Making a prediction in this series would be … well … insane.
On the ice, Oswego State has proven to be a better team this year. They defeated Potsdam twice during the season, winning in Potsdam, 7-3, and again at home, 5-1. Both times, Oswego won by being one step quicker than the Bears. Potsdam is going to have to find a way to slow the Lakers down. Offensively, including the power play, Oswego gets the edge with Derek Kern, Joe Pecoraro, and Chris DiCarlo all in the SUNYAC top ten for overall scoring. Defensively, Potsdam gets the edge, but not by much, and it won’t make a difference if they can’t catch Oswego’s skaters. Goaltending could be a toss up. It depends on how Venturelli, who has shown some freshman inconsistency, plays. Assuming Tyson Gajda, also a freshman, gets the nod for Oswego, it will also depend on whether he stays hot.
So who’s going to win? Okay, we’ll suck it up. First the easy prediction — this series, just like all the previous series in this rivalry, will go to a mini-game. How can it not? All those mini-games were always won by the home team. We’ll stick with that history, and say Oswego takes it after a long Saturday night.