CORTLAND, N.Y. — After the Fredonia-Buffalo State game on the second day of the SUNYAC Challenge, Buffalo State’s coach, Jim Fowler, walked around the hallways laughing out loud like the winning coach. Fredonia’s coach, Jeff Meredith, scowled and muttered under his breath like a coach who just lost.
However, it was the other way around. The Fredonia Blue Devils defeated the Buffalo State Bengals, 6-2. So, why the paradoxical reactions? Because the two just experienced yet another game called under the new point of emphasis rules. Their behavior was simply due to their incredulity over this system.
Each team racked up 19 penalties, for a game total of 38. Hooking was the order of the day this time, as 16 of those calls were made. Out of the eight goals, seven were on the power play — Fredonia went 5 for 16, including four in the first period to take a 4-0 lead, and Buffalo State went 2 for 17.
The players were frustrated because they didn’t know what to expect.
“Our guys are just skating down the ice and next thing they know the hand goes up,” Fowler said. “A lot of kids are not seeing ice time anymore because they’re not on special teams.”
Despite all those power play goals for his team, Meredith said, “You don’t want to see that much power play, penalty kill time. We just didn’t see much five-on-five. That puts student-athletes on the bench. They’re not involved. For the second period, we had some kids go a long stretch of time without getting on the ice.”
The first period power plays enabled Fredonia to come out strong, outshooting the Bengals, 22-8.
“I thought they definitely came out and outworked us in the first period,” Fowler said. “We took some penalties because we weren’t moving our feet. We were down 4-0 before we woke up.”
Neal Sheehan got the Blue Devils on the board halfway through the opening period. After a scramble in front of the net with a number of saves by Sean Sheehan (no relation), Fredonia’s Sheehan slammed the puck in.
Chad Berman made it 2-0 after some pretty passing from Sheehan on the right point to Jim Gilbride in the left slot back to the right side post area where Berman easily converted the one-timer.
Tom Briggs, standing in front of the net, took advantage of a deflected pass to slam it home with a two-man advantage for a 3-0 lead. Max Catelin completed the first period scoring when he took advantage of the goalie being knocked around and tipped in a shot.
“I thought we moved the puck pretty well,” Meredith said of his team’s power play success. “I think the way we work our power play, simpler is better for us. The more we try to deviate away from that, the more we shoot ourselves in the foot.”
“We play these guys again Thursday,” Fowler said. “I told our team after the first period to forget about it. Let’s work hard. It was a 2-2 game after that.”
Buffalo State got on the scoreboard midway through the game on a power play goal of their own as well as a delayed call. Morgan MeElman fired a backhander from in close that beat Rob Stanley.
Fredonia got that back late in the second period on the only even strength goal. Nate Zeman fired from an almost impossible angle that somehow snuck by Sheehan.
The Bengals got a quick goal 13 seconds into the third period when Clay Lewis passed up a close shot, fed it back out to the left point where Sean Castagna fired it into the far upper corner.
Fredonia closed out the scoring with 40 seconds left in the game. Zeman stuffed it in. The reaction of the players after the goal was as if nobody cared anymore. They were simply glad to get a frustrating, point of emphasis penalty filled game over with.
Rob Stanley got the win with 27 saves. Sean Sheehan took the loss with 45 saves as Fredonia out shot Buffalo State, 51-29.
These two teams play again this Thursday night in the first game of the Buffalo State Invitational. Jim Fowler’s plans to get ready for that contest? “We need to work on our special teams all of next week.”
Also, the coaches need to work on the proper post game reactions.