GENESEO, N.Y. — Cortland took advantage of two second period Ice Knight penalties on the way to a 5-2 win at Geneseo, in the first meeting of the SUNYAC’s two rookie head coaches.
Trailing 2-1 after one, Cortland tied the game on Jeff Olsen’s power-play goal at 11:49 of the second. Geneseo goalie Scott Blackman made an initial stick save, but the puck fluttered high over his shoulder and dropped behind him, leaving Olsen a wide-open net.
The Red Dragons took the lead for good a minute-and-a-half later, as Tim Earl one-timed the rebound of a hard Nate Gagnon shot.
“Huge, huge. Without a doubt,” said Cortland coach Tom Cranfield of the game-turning goals. “We work on the [power play] every day, and I was pretty confident, after being down a man for most of the period that we could turn things around.”
Things started to turn late in the first period when Geneseo starting goalie Brett Walker was ejected for fighting.
Less a minute before, Walker was run into when playing a puck to the back boards, but no call was made.
When Walker was knocked down and had his glove torn off during a flurry in front of the net, the netminder came up swinging. Walker and Cortland’s Chris Cullen each received a fighting major and a game disqualification.
“My goaltender decided to take things into his own hands, and to me that was sheer stupidity,” said Geneseo coach Brian Hills. “It seems every game we’ve played, guys are allowed to run into goalies, and stick goalies … and I think he just got frustrated real early.
“He made a bad decision, and that cost us the game. Our guys believe in that kid. He’s done a pretty good job for us in the net, and he’s got to learn to control his emotions.”
Walker’s disqualification was the second for a SUNYAC goalie in two nights. Mark Paine got the start in place of John Larnerd for the Red Dragons, after Larnerd was himself ejected for fighting Friday at Brockport.
Geneseo continued to battle, but insurance goals by Jason Perry late in the second, and Dave Ambuhl midway through the third, salted it away for Cortland.
Even with the three-goal lead, Cortland continued to play aggressively.
“We didn’t want to give them life,” said Cranfield. “We wanted to continue to forecheck hard and we didn’t want them to get back in the game.”
Despite that pressure, the Ice Knights still were able to outshoot Cortland 15-4 in the third.
“We told our guys, ‘Hey, go out there and play in the third period — no nonsense.’ They got chances, and they played hard, and they worked,” said Hills.
Overall, Hills was disappointed, particularly by the chippy, penalty-filled second period. “Our goal tonight was to play a full 60 minutes and we certainly didn’t do that.”
The win moves Cortland (6-1-0, 3-1-0 SUNYAC) into a three-way tie for second place in the conference. The Red Dragons host Johnson & Wales next Saturday.
Geneseo (1-6-0, 1-3-0 SUNYAC) visits RIT Tuesday without Walker in net, as he serves a mandatory one-game suspension.