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College Hockey:
This Week in the SUNYAC

Some Answers But More Questions

So, after the first full weekend of conference play, some questions were answered. However, as is typical, even more questions got raised.

Heading into this past weekend, the questions to answer were when was Oswego going to wake up, how bad of a start would Potsdam get, is Geneseo prepared to repeat and will Plattsburgh return to dominating form?

The Oswego question was answered very quickly in their 10-1 blowout of Buffalo State. The game was never close as Oswego opened up a 2-0 lead after one, a 6-0 lead after two, and it was 7-0 before the Bengals even scored. Brendan McLaughlin was the star of the game scoring the first two goals en route to a five-goal game. Ryan Scott made 22 saves as Oswego outshot Buffalo State, 40-23.

A better test came the next night when the Lakers hosted Fredonia. The Blue Devils came in missing Neal Sheehan due to a fight the night before and then they lost their star, Matt Zeman, halfway through the Lakers game when he received a major and game disqualification for hitting from behind. They also received a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. They were already down a man seconds before on a high sticking call. Shortly afterwards, Fredonia received a slashing call.

Amazingly, Oswego never scored with all those penalties. However, the momentum did change because Fredonia was mounting a comeback at that point. After falling behind, 3-0, the Blue Devils scored two power play goals before committing the chain of penalties.

To add insult to injury, when Fredonia weathered the storm and finally got a power play of their own, Oswego scored a shorthanded goal with five seconds left in the penalty. Oswego went onto win the game 6-2.

Now that the Lakers have woken up, they will face the North Country test, traveling to Plattsburgh and Potsdam.

The Bears finally strung together two strong games even though they only won one of them. In the best game of the weekend, Potsdam lost to Geneseo, 4-3, in overtime. Potsdam took a 2-1 lead after falling behind 1-1. After Geneseo tied it up, Potsdam retook the lead, only to have Geneseo once again knot the game.

Potsdam had an excellent chance in overtime, but all that did was result in a Geneseo rush the other way and a spectacular goal by Mitch Stephens.

Potsdam’s Vince Cuccaro stood on his head at times making 27 saves in the loss. Jeff Pasemko got the win needing only 11 saves.

The following day, Potsdam’s good effort paid off, blowing out Brockport, 9-2, as the Bears went 6 for 12 on the power play.

Potsdam is looking forward to getting Oswego after they get worn out by Plattsburgh. But, they have no illusions of an easy time.

“Obviously, they are a high flying team,” Potsdam coach Glenn Thomaris said. “Oswego’s got some tremendous skilled forwards and they shoot the puck and their very aggressive. If they get a goal and get one, two, three, look out. We have to be very tight checking in our own end and keep them off the board as long as we can.”

First, Potsdam cannot overlook Cortland. “Cortland can certainly play very aggressive,” Thomaris said. “Matt Meacham in net is an outstanding goaltender for them. If he gets his game going, it’s tough to beat them. He’s done a good job on us keeping the puck out of the net.”

The Mitch Stephens goal capped a strong effort by Geneseo against Potsdam. It was a goal for the ages as he dazzled the crowd with his moves around the Potsdam defenders and then waited patiently for the Potsdam goalie to go down, before flipping it over him.

“Mitch is such a creative player that whenever he gets the chance and sees the hole, he is a guy that can hit that hole,” Geneseo coach Jason Lammers said.

However, that effort did not get carried over to the next night against Plattsburgh. Despite scoring the first goal, the Ice Knights got beat in every facet of the game as they came out flat and the Cardinals were ready to play. Plattsburgh scored seven unanswered goals for a 7-1 win.

“We just got flat out beat,” Lammers said. “They played a great game.”

That great game means Plattsburgh is now 3-0 in league play with the next four conference games at home. Are the Cardinals back? First, they have to make sure not to look ahead at their game against Oswego and stumble against Cortland. Especially since the Red Dragons stunned Fredonia in a 2-2 tie.

“I think when our guys look at that result, they will not take them lightly,” Emery said of Cortland. “I think our guys know how good the SUNYAC league is. Knowing that going into a game makes it a lot easier to play hard.”

Some questions were answered. Oswego woke up. Potsdam started to reverse their bad start. But, more questions remain.

Is Oswego back to form? Is Plattsburgh truly back to reclaiming the top spot? Will Geneseo rebound from a bad game? Will Fredonia maintain their composure and get back into the hunt? Does Cortland have more upsets on their minds? Is Potsdam truly heading in the right direction?

Some will get answered this weekend. Most likely, even more will get raised.

What Were They Thinking?

I’m not one to usually complain or criticize a league’s pick for players of the week. A lot of times, they need to spread things around and recognize different schools even when a selection may not be the absolute best choice. They have to look at the circumstances, the competition, and sometimes they don’t like to give the selections all to one school in a single week.

But this time, I have to scratch my head and wonder what in the world was the SUNYAC thinking when they did not give the player of the week to Oswego’s Brendan McLaughlin? In the Lakers against Buffalo State, McLaughlin scored five goals and one assist. Five goals! In just one game. I don’t care if it is a blowout against a team at the bottom of the standings. It’s still five goals. That’s more goals than some top players score a whole month.

Then, the next night, he scores a goal and two assists against Fredonia. That’s nine points for the weekend. And, he doesn’t get named player of the week?

SUNYAC Short Shots

Though Potsdam threw a lot of shots at net against Geneseo in the third period, only one shot was on net … Tempers flared in the Fredonia-Cortland game after Cortland scored what proved to be the tying goal at 6:17 of the third period. A fight erupted between Fredonia’s Neal Sheehan and Cortland’s Chris Corso. Both got fighting majors and game disqualifications. Sheehan also got an instigator penalty … Fredonia and Cortland traded their first goals twenty seconds apart … Potsdam’s Chris Brussa-Toi scored a hat trick, all on the power play, against Brockport and Oswego’s Peter Magagna got a hat trick against Fredonia … Three players registered four assists in a single game — Oswego’s Ryan Ellis against Buffalo State and Potsdam’s T.J. Sakaluk and Ryan McCarthy against Brockport … Geneseo had a weekend attendance of nearly 3,000 for their two home games.

Game of the Week

There really is no choice. There are other contenders. For playoff ramifications, as far as just making it into the postseason, the Brockport at Buffalo State game certainly could be very important down the road. The Geneseo at Fredonia game is intriguing. Both teams want to recover from what they would consider a less than stellar weekend. Plus, they both need to grab some points when they know the top two teams in the standings are going to beat each other up.

Geneseo coach Jason Lammers brushed off the importance of the game, noting how every game is important. “The SUNYACs are a tough league,” he said. “We prepare hard for every game.”

The obvious choice, however, is the Oswego at Plattsburgh game. There is, of course, the great rivalry between these two teams, and being at the Stafford Arena, it will be tennis ball and not bagels that get flung out after the first home goal.

First place is the real reason why this game gets the nod. The winner could, when the week is over, be in sole possession of the top spot.

“Oswego is a great hockey team,” Plattsburgh coach Bob Emery said. “A very skilled team. If they give up anything, they are a young team. It should be a great game.”

Indeed it should.

Life Is Good

Well folks, you are not going to believe this. It’s best you sit down for this news.

Geneseo has a concession stand. Honest. No lie. Granted, I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see if for myself, but I’ve never lied to you before, so take my word for it.

It’s a full fledged, bona fide, albeit semi-permanent (does that mean mostly temporary?), concession stand. Located on one end of the rink on the player benches side, it uses a side hallway for it’s space. They serve pizza, drinks, cookies, and snacks. The prices are reasonable, and though I didn’t try any of the items (I ate before the games), they look very tasty.

The only drawback? You know what’s coming. No hot soft pretzels. But, you have to accept your miracles one step at a time.


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