CORTLAND, N.Y. — The Buffalo State Bengals defeated the host of the SUNYAC Challenge, the Cortland Red Dragons, 7-5, in the nightcap of the first day of the tournament.
Like the first game, this too was filled with penalties due to the new point of emphasis calls. Twenty-six penalties were called, seven power-play goals were scored (Buffalo State went four for 10 and Cortland went three for 11), there was one 4-on-4 goal, and only three full strength goals.
Watching the first game did allow the teams to prepare slightly better for what to expect from the referees.
“Everybody stayed focused,” Buffalo State coach Jim Fowler said. “I warned then at the beginning there is going to be a lot of calls out there; you can’t talk to the refs.”
Last year, Cortland suffered with inconsistent goaltending. Tonight, Buffalo State broke the game open when Cortland’s new goalie, Matt Meacham, a junior transfer from Skidmore College, let in two poor goals in the third period.
“I don’t know if I’m concerned,” Cortland coach Tom Cranfield said of Meacham. “He’s a tough kid. He’ll bounce back. I think we’ll be find in the end.”
The first period was a see-saw battle with the Bengals taking a lead only to have Cortland answer each time.
Sean Burke scored first putting in a fat rebound off a shot from Jeff Mok. Emerson Mish tied it up on the power play when he walked in with no defender willing to pick him up. Mish finally let off a wrister waist high.
Burke once again gave Buffalo State the lead after some swift cross ice passing allowed him to one-time it through the five-hole on the power play. Matt Schillace did the honors of tying it for Cortland. Standing in front of the net, he deflected it over the shoulder of the goalie from a shot by Kevin Watters during a power play.
The Bengals took the lead for good with a pair of goals in the second period. Mike DeMarco, once again on the power play, received a pass on the side of the net after some around the horn play and easily tapped it into the unguarded net.
The goal of the night was scored by Josh Magnuson. In a spectacular single-handed effort, Magnuson skated the puck into the zone with a defender all over him. Keeping control of the puck, sometimes with just one hand, he fought off the Red Dragon till he got a shot off that beat Meacham.
The teams started out the third period trading power play goals. Clay Lewis gave Buffalo State a three goal lead by ripping a wrister from the right point into the upper near corner. Barry McLaughlin got it back for Cortland. After receiving a pass in front of the net, he patiently waited for Sean Sheehan to go down, and then flipped it over him.
Buffalo State put the game away with back-to-back goals by Lewis, his second, and David Wilmert. Both scores were the result of poor goaltending by Meacham.
On Lewis’ power play goal which came from the right point, Meacham started moving to his right seemingly thinking there was going to be a pass. This left the entire left half of the net open which Lewis had no trouble finding with a soft shot.
Wilmert’s goal was a result of an initial save, but Meacham misplayed the rebound, once again allowing the Buffalo State player to put it into an unguarded net. At this point, Cortland replaced Meacham with Jason Lojewski.
The Red Dragons tried to make a game of it as Buffalo State seemed to rest on their laurels. “We got complacent,” Fowler admitted. “We need to play a full sixty minutes.”
Cortland got two quick goals by Tom Girand (on a beautiful riser into the upper corner just tucked underneath the posts) and Tim Earl (which Buffalo State argued was put in off a high stick). However it was too little, too late.
“I was proud with the way the guys came back and rallied a bit,” Cranfield said. “Unfortunately, you can’t give up tough goals and expect to come back and win.”
Sheehan got the win with 33 saves, and Meacham took the loss with 29 saves while Lojewski registered three saves in his brief stint.