CORTLAND, N.Y. — The Cortland Red Dragons came storming back from their first game loss to defeat the Potsdam Bears, 6-3, in the final game of the SUNYAC Challenge held at Cortland.
“We came out inspired today — positive attitude, supported each other,” Cortland coach Tom Cranfield said. “Actually played more like a team today.”
Unlike the three previous games in the tournament, the refs allowed the players a bit more latitude in their play, and it resulted in a more entertaining game, at least compared to the others. However, there were still 21 minor penalties called, twelve for Cortland and nine on Potsdam.
The key goal in the game came with 14 seconds left in the first period when Cortland scored a shorthanded goal to take a 3-0 lead into the locker room.
“They got the third goal right at the end shorthanded which put us on our heels for the second period,” said Potsdam coach Glenn Thomaris.
“Two to nothing is a deficit anyone can overcome, but when you go down 3-0 especially right at the end kind of put the wind out of their sails especially when they are on the power play,” Cranfield said. “And then to come out and score again in the second to make it 4-0 really put the nail in the coffin.
The first Cortland score was an even strength tally. Matt Schallice took a drop pass from Kyle Coletti as they entered the zone. This sprang Schallice in on a 2-on-1. Schallice took the shot himself and easily beat Vince Cuccaro.
Cortland made it 2-0 on the power play. Cuccaro made the initial kick save on a shot from Jeremy Nau. However, the rebound came straight out in the middle, and Nate Graves easily knocked it in.
Tim Earl score the aforementioned shorthanded goal when Cuccaro played the angles poorly, allowing Earl to sneak the puck in from way down low on the right side from an almost impossible angle.
After the period, Thomaris replaced Cuccaro with Rob Barnhardt in net. Cuccaro made 13 saves. Barnhardt would end up with 16 saves for the remaining two periods.
On the other end of the rink, Matt Meacham, the new transfer from Skidmore, came back strong after playing a shaky game the night before, registering 37 saves.
“We don’t want to judge anything on one performance,” Cranfield said of Meacham’s game against Buffalo State. “I think he let in a couple of soft goals. He was a little disappointed in the way he played as well. So we wanted to give him a chance to really show us what he’s got. He certainly did that tonight.”
Meacham lost his shutout at the end of the second period, but by then it was 5-0. Coletti, in a four-on-four situation, had such a clean breakaway it seemed like a penalty shot, putting it over the goalie’s glove. Schallice got his second of the night on the power play, putting it by a helpless Barnhardt from right out in front.
Potsdam’s goal came when Corey McAllister received a cross ice pass from Mark LaFave and put it through the five-hole. Potsdam scored again midway through the third period on a delayed penalty call. The shot from the left point by Dennis Colterman was deflected in by Ryan Mattison.
The Red Dragons wrapped up their scoring when Kevin Watters put a rebound behind Barnhardt after Barnhardt made a great initial save on Nate Gagnon’s shot.
The Bears finished off the scoring with Mattison’s second of the night when Potsdam pulled their goalie after they already had a two-man advantage. All the extra bodies paid off as Potsdam kept firing the puck into a crowd in front of the net. Mattison finally got it past Meacham.
Potsdam (1-1) needs to recover fast as they host Plattsburgh Friday night and Utica Saturday night. “We have a lot of work for us this week to get ready for the weekend,” Thomaris said. “They now know what to expect.”
Cortland (1-1) competes in another tournament this weekend at Lebanon Valley where they start out playing Neumann.