FREDONIA, N.Y. — Potsdam and Fredonia entered tonight’s game in Fredonia’s Steele Hall Arena with each trying to break respective winless streaks while at the same time trying to get two key points in the SUNYAC standings.
It was Potsdam that achieved these goals, ending its seven-game winless streak (0-5-2) with a 4-3 victory, while Fredonia’s streak now stretches to five (0-4-1).
The second period was the key to the game. Fredonia outplayed Potsdam with a decided edge in scoring chances, yet thanks to a very late power play and an even later goal, Potsdam took a 4-3 lead into the locker room — a lead the Bears would hold through a scoreless third.
Potsdam entered the second period ahead 2-1 and quickly made it 3-1. Soon after killing off two successive penalties, including a two-man advantage, Potsdam broke out on a slow developing three-on-one with Dennis Colterman as the trailer. Mark Stewart from the right side left a lazy drop pass that Colterman leisurely scooped up in the high slot area. He let rip a low shot that beat Simon Maignan’s outstretched right leg.
Fredonia quickly answered when Potsdam’s Ryan Trimble coughed up the puck in his own zone. Tom Briggs took advantage of the mistake and fired a snap shot over the shoulder of Ryan Venturelli.
Late in the period, Matt Zeman singlehandedly tied it up. Zeman picked up a pass on the goal line from Kraig Kuzma and danced his way to the front of the net where he snuck it through the five-hole. Venturelli thought he had it, but the red light indicated otherwise.
Then came the deciding moment of the game. With just 11 seconds left in the second, Don Jaeger was called for holding. It didn’t take Potsdam long — eight seconds into the power play — to grab the lead. Maignan came out to cut down the angle on a Chris Lee shot, leaving the net completely unguarded. The rebound ended up on Adam Gebrara’s stick and Gebrara easily put it into the open net.
The third period saw Fredonia hanging a player up high for the breakout. At first, Potsdam had trouble defending the strategy.
“They kind of confused us a little bit back there,” Potsdam coach Glenn Thomaris said. “It took us a long time to get through to our defensemen that we wanted one guy back and play that guy one on one, and we wanted our other defenseman up on the far blue line going board to board, and they were afraid to do that.”
“I like how it spreads the ice out,” Fredonia coach Jeff Meredith said about the tactic.
But Potsdam did get the hang of it. Thomaris said, “Once he [the defenseman] got comfortable knowing he could go board to board and he was responsible for that whole area, it gave our forwards a little more of a chance to do something with the puck to forecheck a little bit. I think that was probably the biggest thing that helped us there. It took us a long time to get that across to them.”
At that point, Potsdam was able to keep the puck in the Fredonia zone for longer stretches of time, enabling them to kill time off the clock.
Fredonia did have chances, though. The best one came midway through the period when Briggs found himself all alone against Venturelli. Briggs deked one way, then another, and then again. Venturelli would have none of it, and stayed with Briggs the whole way. Finally, Briggs was forced to shoot, and Venturelli got his whole body in front of the puck to stop it.
With four minutes to go, Venturelli robbed the Blue Devils again with a quick glove hand. In the final two minutes, Potsdam’s relentless forechecking prevented Fredonia from ever entering the Bears’ zone, even after managing to pull Maignan for the extra skater.
Meredith said, “We had our opportunities. I thought we played well. I’m happy with the way we played.”
Potsdam built the first period lead on a Lee goal 46 seconds into the game. It was a display of skating and puckhandling. Lee intercepted a clearing pass, went around one player to his right, cut back to the left around another defender, then while fading away from the goal, shot it back the other way. Maignan got a piece of it, but it still managed to arc into the net.
Gebrara scored almost five minutes later for a 2-0 lead when he knocked in a rebound on the power play. Eleven seconds later, Joe Muli got Fredonia on the scoreboard.
Potsdam went two for six on the power play while Fredonia squandered all six of its opportunities. Lee’s goal and two assists give him 99 points in his career. Meanwhile, Fredonia’s Zeman continues to lead the team in scoring with 27 points.
Fredonia outshot Potsdam, 31-27.
The win moves Potsdam into a tie for second place with Geneseo, whose game against Oswego was postponed because Oswego couldn’t get out of town due to five feet of lake effect snow in 24 hours in parts of the county. The Bears travel to Buffalo State, where they have lost the last two years.
“We’re fighting for every point that we can get at this point in time,” Thomaris said. “To win in Fredonia is a huge factor for us. We have to follow that up.”
Fredonia stays home and plays Plattsburgh, who defeated Buffalo State, 3-2.