GENESEO, N.Y. — It was a heart-stopping night at Ira S. Wilson Arena as Potsdam and Geneseo duked it out for the right to advance to the SUNYAC semifinal round. And after a long night of hockey, it was Geneseo which finally prevailed in overtime of the mini-game.
Tony Scorsone, a senior and hometown boy, scored the series-winning goal at 4:36 of overtime after a scoreless 20-minute mini-game. He rushed down the left side and shot low from the faceoff circle. It found its way through the five hole of Ryan Venturelli.
“I said during the intermission before overtime,” Geneseo coach Brian Hills said, “‘Wouldn’t it be nice if a hometown boy from Geneseo who grew up here in his own rink in his last game here as a senior wins the game?’”
Thanks to the win, Geneseo travels to Plattsburgh this weekend for the next round of playoff action.
That goal came just 17 seconds after Geneseo’s Brett Walker made a sensational glove save on a Jeff Milroy blast from the left faceoff circle.
“That’s the way hockey is,” Potsdam’s coach Ed Seney said philosophically. “We made one mistake, and they capitalized on it.”
The mini-game saw a number of opportunities for both teams, including one power play, but the goalies continued to come up big. And once it was obvious the referee was not going to call any penalties, clutching and grabbing took over.
Before the mini-game could even be played, Potsdam had to win game two to even the series. The Bears won that game, 3-1, after the first 51 minutes were scoreless.
Potsdam came out flying in the first period knowing it had to win. It had numerous chances, outshot Geneseo 11-6, and on one shorthanded situation, the puck was in Geneseo’s end more than Potsdam’s end.
“We were back on our heels in the first period,” Hills said. “We rebounded in the second period.”
Again, the game remained scoreless after two despite Potsdam having a two-man advantage for over a minute and Geneseo getting a three-on-none breakaway.
Though defense was still strong, unlike the night before, the offenses were more visible. However, it was a goaltending battle all night that kept the scoreboard inactive.
Potsdam finally broke the deadlock at 10:55 of the third. John Bernfell fired a shot from the left point that hit a skate on its way in and took an odd sailing hook into the the upper corner of the net, fooling Walker.
About seven minutes later Walker made his only mistake of the night, and Potsdam was up 2-0. Walker came out of his net to his left to poke check the puck away. However, he didn’t do a good enough job of it, and Scott Craig picked up the puck and shot it in as Walker scrambled to get back.
The 2-0 lead seem to clinch it, but Geneseo wouldn’t give up. With its goalie pulled, Brian Avery scored easily, knocking in a rebound while standing untouched next to the goal post.
“The turning point for us was when we got the goal,” Hills said. “The fact that we scored got our emotions back up.”
Twenty-three seconds later, Anthony Greer got an empty netter to put the game away.
“We played a real solid game two except for the second period when we got into penalty trouble,” said Seney.
That of course set the stage for the mini-game and the winning goal by Scorsone.
Hills made a confession afterwards.
“When we broke out of our zone, I was yelling for him to get off the ice,” Hills said. “After the celebration, Boudette asked me, ‘Do you still want Tony to come off the ice?’”
After four-plus periods of hockey and nearly four and a half hours after the opening faceoff, everyone was finally able to come off the ice. And hearts could get back to beating normally.