GENEVA, N.Y. — One of the reasons that Potsdam has struggled early this season is getting off to slow starts in the first period. They have struggled to score goals early in games, and let other teams build insurmountable leads. If tonight’s game is any indication, coach Glenn Thomaris may have solved that problem.
“We played a lot better and a lot smarter and got some goals in the first period,” said Potsdam coach Glenn Thomaris. “We tried to get up early and then wanted to keep them off.”
However, Potsdam wasn’t able to hold Hobart off. After finding themselves down by two goals twice during the game, the Statesmen rallied with three goals in the third period to steal a 5-4 victory in their home opener.
Early in the third period, Potsdam extended its lead to 4-2, and it looked like the game was in the bag for the Bears. Ben King slapped a blast from the top of the slot over goaltender Andrew Eaton’s blocker for the power play goal.
Following that, the Bears clamped down on defense, quickly smothering every attempt by Hobart to push in to their defensive zone. But the Statesmen weren’t quite done yet.
Greg Gallagher tallied his second goal of the night for Hobart at 9:52, with a shot through a screen that Potsdam goaltender Vince Cuccaro never saw. And then it was like a switch turned on for Hobart. Following the goal, it was all Hobart, all the time, as the Statesmen poured on the pressure.
Adam Scott used a great individual effort to keep the puck in the zone, and then score Hobart’s fourth goal just over a minute later. Just like that, the game was tied 4-4, and all of the momentum was with the Statesmen.
“We didn’t tie up some guys, and they got goals number three and four,” said Thomaris. “Their fifth goal, our guy tried to make a breakout pass instead of making the smart play.”
It looked like the game might go to overtime, when Hobart scored the game winning fifth goal with only thirteen seconds remaining. The Statesmen pressure had the Bears running around in their own zone. Will Bodine kept the puck in the Potsdam zone at the blue line, and then ripped a shot down the slot and in to the back of the net to give Hobart the dramatic 5-4 victory.
“I knew we could pull it off,” said Hobart coach Mark Taylor. “But I didn’t know if we would.”
The Bears scored just :37 seconds into the contest to take a 1-0 lead. Ryan McCarthy sent a hard shot from the blue line just after crossing the blue line. Hobart starting goaltender Dimitri Papaevagelou deflected the puck up in to the air with his blocker, but lost sight of it. While he was searching, the puck dropped down onto the stick of Potsdam’s Kevin Tessirt who quickly slapped it home for the goal.
Potsdam continued to dominate play throughout the first half of the opening period. Papaevagelou again struggled with his blocker off a Potsdam shot at the six-minute mark, but managed to escape without a goal this time.
“I thought that we were a little tentative and quiet in the locker room before the game,” said Taylor. “Sometimes your first home game, you want it a little too much, and it made us tight to start the game.”
However, Potsdam struck again, this time on the power play, when McCarthy scored at 8:50. The Bears out-hustled Hobart for a loose puck deep in the Statesmen zone. T.J. Sakaluk from the corner found McCarthy on the far side of the slot and it was an easy goal.
“Glenn [Thomaris] has a young bunch of guys that just play,” said Taylor. “We gave them three chances, and they scored on every one of them.”
Hobart started to right the ship midway through the period, and pulled within one before the period ended. Mike McCarthy scored the power play goal for the Statesmen and started to build some momentum.
Early in the second period, the play had evened out with each team working towards good scoring chances. But it was Hobart who struck again to tie the game 2-2 at the 7:25 mark with another power play goal. Tyler Dufour found Greg Gallagher coming down the slot, and Gallagher one-timed home a nice shot for the goal.
Just when it looked like Hobart was back in the game, Potsdam took the lead again. Hobart was putting all kinds of pressure in the Potsdam zone while on the power play. Bears goaltender Vince Cuccaro made two outstanding saves, one with a bristling glove, to stone the Statesmen.
Off of a save, Potsdam’s Mark Hathaway carried the puck out the Bears’ zone. It appeared the he was out of gas and going to dump the puck into the Hobart zone to get line change. But instead he continued to carry the puck down the right side of the Statesmen zone and wristed the puck through a narrow opening over Papaevagelou’s glove to score the shorthanded goal at 10:48.
“We were yelling for [Hathaway] to get a shot on net and he did,” said Thomaris. “He was ready for the shift change. That is what happens when you get pucks on net.”
That was enough for Papaevagelou, and Hobart coach Mark Taylor replaced him with Andrew Eaton in net.