GENESEO, N.Y. — It probably was inevitable.
This is the third time Geneseo and Potsdam played each other this season, and it is the third time they have gone to overtime. Even when it appeared that Geneseo had the game won after scoring a shorthanded goal with 2:58 left in the third period to take a 5-3 lead, Potsdam came back to score two power play goals with its goalie pulled for an extra attacker in a 37 second span for a 5-5 final.
“They’ve all been close,” Geneseo coach Jason Lammers said. “Two equally matched teams, two good goaltenders, and some guys on both teams who can get it done on the power play.”
The power play was strong for both teams as Potsdam scored four times with the man advantage. Geneseo tallied three power play goals as well as a shorthander.
“I think there’s two teams that really want to win and battle to the bitter end,” Potsdam coach Glenn Thomaris said.
Battle they did. Each team was whistled for 15 penalties. The shots were almost even, too, with Geneseo gaining a 27-25 advantage.
Though these were two SUNYAC teams, the game was a non-conference match up. The intensity, however, told another story. Especially, in the third period.
With the score tied at three apiece midway through the final period, Brian Bestwick scored a power play goal. He and Kris Heeres caught the Potsdam defense off guard, and found themselves with a two-on-one down low. Heeres fed Bestwick with a cross ice pass. Bestwick one timed a shot back the other way, over the shoulder of Rob Barnhardt.
Each team traded penalties after that. It was the Geneseo penalty that almost proved to be the deciding factor. After Geneseo cleared the puck, Barnhardt played it in the corner. Instead of leaving it for his own defenseman who was right there, he decided to pass it up to center ice himself.
However, with no pressure on him, he passed it right to Bestwick at the red line. Barnhardt had no chance to make it back into the net, and Bestwick fired a shot from just outside the blue line into the empty net. It gave Bestwick the hat trick and his team the first two-goal lead in the game.
“He played smart,” Lammers said of his star forward. “He really elevated himself tonight.”
After the goal, Potsdam would have had every right to pack it in.
“We gave up a tough goal and they went up by two,” Thomaris said. “I think everybody on the bench rose to the occasion and had a lot of fight today.”
Another Geneseo penalty, roughing by Brandon French, enabled Potsdam to pull their goalie for an extra attacker. After Geneseo missed a golden opportunity to put the game away when they hit the post, Potsdam came back down the ice to score.
T.J. Sakaluk gave a quick centering pass to Pat Lemay, who just as quickly shot the puck past Derek Jokic.
Yet another penalty by Geneseo, cross checking by Steve Sankey, once again provided the opportunity for Potsdam to pull their goalie for an extra attacker. After Thomaris called a timeout to set the play up, Potsdam took only ten seconds to tie the game.
Greg Lee passed it from the left point to the right circle. Lemay’s shot was saved, but Sakaluk got the rebound and knocked it in.
“We made some beautiful plays on both our goals,” Thomaris said. “Fortunately, they hit the post before we got those goals and those are the things you have to take advantage of, and we did.”
Lammers agreed: “I thought Potsdam executed well on those last two goals.”
A late Potsdam penalty taken by Lance Smith for interference carried over into the extra period, but each team could only muster one shot on net despite some wide open play.
Geneseo got the scoring started halfway through the first period an a Matt English power play goal. He skated from left to right across the high slot area, and let a wrister go that fooled Barnhardt.
The Bears tied it up on their own power play when Sakaluk picked up a loose puck and scooped it in. Bestwick got the Ice Knights the lead back before the period ended thanks to a horrid giveaway by Ryan Mattison in his own zone. Mitch Stephens was the recipient of the loose puck, and he fed Bestwick, who’s blast left Barnhardt with no chance.
Potsdam scored twice in the second period to take a 3-2 lead. Lemay blasted one from the point on the power play that found it’s way in through the traffic. Dan Quartucio rushed in to pounce on a loose puck for the go-ahead goal after the Bears applied constant pressure in front of the net.
English tied it on the power play when he pounced on a loose puck that nobody else was able to find. He saw the near upper corner of the net open, and placed it in that spot.
“I didn’t like the tie to be honest,” Lammers said after blowing the late two-goal lead. “It’s kind of a kick in the stomach.”
Geneseo is now 8-3-2 heading into a much needed break as the Ice Knights have a number of forwards injured. Geneseo resumes play on January 7 at Salve Regina.
“We just have to get over the hump now and get a win over them at some point in time,” Thomaris said. “This was probably the time to do it since they were a little short handed. Though, they had most of their good players skating hard.”
Potsdam, who has played five consecutive overtime games, is now 3-7-4 as they don’t get back onto the ice until January 3 in a game at New England College.