BROCKPORT, N.Y. — Cortland’s Kyle Coletti ended the playoff hopes of Brockport when he scored the game winner, his second of the night, with 16.1 seconds left, giving the Red Dragons a 3-2 win and clinching a playoff spot of their own.
“This was the goal we had,” Cortland coach Tom Cranfield said. “Take at least one, and this was the big one, so we can put them behind us.”
Said Brockport coach Brian Dickinson, “[Our players] are devastated because they are looking at the big picture of pulling to within a point of Cortland. Hopefully, we can learn from it.”
The first period went by without a goal despite plenty of chances. Brockport’s Andy Reynolds faced 17 shots with some excellent opportunities, but he turned them all away.
The second period started out with a quick goal by Coletti, 38 seconds in. Thanks to a bad Brockport clearing attempt, Cortland went in on a three-on-one. Coletti, Tom Earl and Matt Schallice passed it among themselves. Then, Earl made what appeared to one pass too many because by now the players were getting too close. However, Coletti was able to reach out before the puck crossed the goal line outside of the net, and deflect it just inside the post.
Despite Cortland taking the lead, they started getting too emotional and it cost them.
“Second period we spent most of the time in the penalty box,” Cranfield said. “We just wanted to calm our guys down, quit blaming the referees for everything that happened on the ice, and get back to just playing our game. Once we did that, we carried the play a little better.”
Not before Brockport took a 2-1 lead after two. Brockport took advantage of a two-man advantage specifically because Cortland got too emotional, receiving two simultaneous bench minors. When the Red Dragons were called for too many men on the ice, Cortland argued, and then didn’t send a player to the box. The ref slapped them with an unsportsmanlike conduct.
At first, Brockport seemed content to just pass the puck around. Finally, Mark Digby took a waist high shot from off to the side and it found it’s way in on the near side. Brian Bauman and Ian MacLean got the assists.
Near the end of the period, Digby notched his second of the night. The senior, who along with Reynolds, Bauman and the other seniors on the team, was honored before their last home game, took advantage of Chris Koras’ hard work. Koras rushed up the ice from his own zone, avoided numerous checks, went past the goal, then quickly back passed it to the trailing Digby. Digby fired it over the left shoulder of Matt Meacham just under the corner of the goal posts.
More Cortland penalties followed, including a 10-minute misconduct to Nate Gagnon, but despite outshooting the Red Dragons 27-8 in that period, Brockport only held a 2-1 lead heading into the third.
Once again Cortland scored an early goal to start off a period.
“They got the early break in the third period,” Dickinson said. “We took a penalty there and gave them a chance to get one early and gain some momentum. When they turned it up and got their tying goal, I thought Cortland did a nice job of keeping the tempo.”
Schallice knocked in a rebound out of the air that Reynolds wasn’t expecting. The power-play goal at 1:20 tied the game at two. This time, it was Cortland that controlled a period, outshooting Brockport, 22-8. However, like Brockport’s dominance in the second period, not many goals came from it.
Finally, thanks to some sloppy defensive play by the Golden Eagles, the puck ended up bouncing out to the front of the net. Coletti was there to bang it home. The senior started and ended the scoring for the day.
Brockport pulled their goalie, had one mad scramble in front of the net, but couldn’t tie the game. Meacham finished with 40 saves as Reynolds made 44 stops.
With Plattsburgh winning Saturday night, Brockport is out of the playoff picture with a record of 2-9-1 (8-14-1 overall). However, it can play spoiler to the North Country’s teams home-ice hopes when it travels to Potsdam and Plattsburgh next weekend.
Cortland is in the playoffs with a current record of 5-7 (10-12-1 overall), but whether it plays at home or not is still very much up in the air. The Red Dragons are tied with Plattsburgh for fifth place, one point behind Potsdam and the last home-ice position. The Red Dragons are home in their last two games against Buffalo State and Fredonia.