GENESEO, N.Y. — When the playoffs begin, the defense tightens up. However, for Geneseo and Potsdam, it was no different than in the regular season. Goals are not commonplace when these two teams meet.
Geneseo edged Potsdam in game one of the SUNYAC play-in round, 2-1, as defense was the name of the game.
Potsdam, despite driving down the night before in order to be well rested, came out flat. Geneseo had the jump and controlled the first period.
“I thought we played real well in the first,” Geneseo coach Brian Hills said. “We controlled the play.”
However, it took till the 14:07 mark before Geneseo could finally get on the board. That was because Potsdam was doing a good job in its own end, preventing Geneseo from getting many shots off. Geneseo never got into double digits in shots for any period, and most of those shots were relatively harmless, though Geneseo’s Tony Scorsone had a shorthanded breakaway that Ryan Venturelli stick-checked away.
Geneseo’s first goal came on the power play when Potsdam got caught thinking about clearing the puck. Geneseo kept it in, and shot it towards the net. Scorsone one-timed it to Andy Rice down low, who immediately redirected it past Venturelli.
The second period was more of the same as defense ruled the day, though Potsdam started to wake up from a funk.
“I thought in the second period, we had a few chances,” Potsdam coach Ed Seney said.
Potsdam poured it on in the third period as desperation took over trying to tie it up. Instead, Geneseo scored next, again on the power play.
Paul Weismann’s shot from the left point was deflected in by Scorsone. Venturelli had no chance at it, just past the midway point of the final period. Now, it was a matter of not doing anything silly.
Which is exactly what Geneseo did. With Andy Ford sitting in the box for interference, Jon Schnepf committed a cross-checking penalty away from the puck. In fact, it was called by the assistant referee.
“Ever since the Utica game in January,” Hills said, “I’ve been stressing discipline. We were really good up to that penalty.”
Though Geneseo did kill off the two-man advantage, Potsdam scored before the second penalty was over. Dave Weagle’s shot from the right faceoff circle was deflected up high and just under the crossbar by Anthony Greer.
So, with four minutes left to play the Bears tried everything to get the tying goal, including pulling Venturelli. Geneseo did an excellent job on defense and even more importantly, forechecked well in the final minute, preventing Potsdam from getting a solid rush.
Venturelli ended with 21 saves, while Brett Walker, who was outstanding in the third period, made 26.
The two teams square off again Saturday night in Geneseo at 7:00 for game two of the series. Potsdam needs a win to force a mini-game. Geneseo can settle for a tie to move on to the semifinal round.
So, why do these two teams have trouble scoring against each other?
Hills explains, “They have trouble breaking out against us, and we have trouble breaking out against them.”
That probably won’t change for the fourth meeting this year. Don’t expect too many goals to be scored.