PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — Friday night, Potsdam’s main hope to upset Plattsburgh was to stay out of the penalty box.
They didn’t, and they didn’t.
Plattsburgh only had two power plays, but that was enough to score two key goals en route to a 6-3 win in the first game of the SUNYAC finals at the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena.
The first period ended scoreless despite Potsdam outshooting Plattsburgh 12-5, Plattsburgh committing a four-minute cross checking penalty, and the Cardinals hitting the crossbar in the final minute.
The Cardinals struck first in the second period. Brendon Hodge scored unassisted just 37 seconds into the middle stanza on his patented blast while the teams were skating four per side.
The Bears struck back, scoring two goals in a 25-second span to take a 2-1 lead by the 8:12 mark. Joe Wlodarczyk got the first goal when a Plattsburgh defender initially stopped a pass, but went down, inadvertently screening his goalie. Wlodarczyk picked up the loose puck and put it by Niklas Sundberg, who never saw it. Assists went to Brendon Knight and Mike Snow.
Nick Eagan got the second goal assisted by Erick Curtis and Brett Joly.
Then, the Bears committed their first two penalties that meant something — putting Plattsburgh on the power play. The Cardinals took advantage, taking the lead for good.
Rob Retter scored to tie it up at the 13:57 mark. Peter Ollari and Mark Coletta got the assists. Hodge got his second of the night with 43 seconds left in the period to give Plattsburgh the lead. Ollari got another assist, as did Jason Kilcan.
Plattsburgh scored a key goal 4:15 into the final period as Paul Dowe got what proved to be the game-winner, assisted by Bryan Murray and Retter.
Potsdam didn’t give up, scoring a power-play goal of its own for its only man-advantage tally out of six opportunities. Wlodarczyk got that goal, his second of the night. Assists went to Dave Weagle and Sean Darke
But Plattsburgh regained a two-goal lead when Wilson scored with Coletta and Shawn Banks assisting.
Hodge completed a hat trick when Ollari unselfishly passed to him in an empty-net situation. That was Ollari’s third assist for the night.
Sundberg got the win with 33 saves. Ryan Venturelli took his first career playoff loss despite making 24 saves.
The two teams meet again for game two Saturday night at 7:00. It’s do-or-die for the Bears, while Plattsburgh only needs a tie to move onto the NCAAs.