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College Hockey:
Strong Finish: Buffalo State Tops Potsdam

— Buffalo State closed out one of its most successful seasons in school history with a 6-2 home victory over Potsdam. The win enabled Buffalo State to stay in front of Potsdam and finish in fifth place. Potsdam remained in sixth place for the last playoff spot.

“Definitely an important thing for us to score some goals, get some success on the power play,” Buffalo State coach Nick Carriere said of ending the season with a win. “Especially towards the end of the evening to work through some of the adversity we dealt with.”

Highlighting the game was Sean Burke scoring his 23rd and 24th goals of the season, breaking the school record previously held by All-American Todd Nowicki at 23.

The Bengals grabbed the lead early, 1:55 into the game. After a defensive breakdown by Potsdam, Greg Prybylski skated down the right side and placed a beautiful shot into the far corner, just finding the space to go in.

Potsdam quickly tied it up on the power play by Ryan McCarthy. After the team passed the puck around in good controlling fashion, Adam Gebara found McCarthy down low who was able to flick the puck over the goalie’s leg just inside the post.

“The first goal that they scored was them moving the puck, and we had one guy who wasn’t on the same page as everyone else, and he went and chased the puck and all they did was give it to the guy who he wasn’t standing right next to, and he roofed it,” Carriere said.

However, despite scoring on its first power play and despite the success from the night before against Fredonia, Buffalo State was able to shutdown the third best power play in the country the rest of the way.

“Our penalty kill shut them down.. We packed it in tight and tried to take away passing lane, diagonal passes,” Carriere explained their success on the penalty kill. “To take those away, our goalie is hot right now, and he can take care of the shots from the outside.”

Potsdam coach Glenn Thomaris concurs: “One of the things we haven’t been able to do all year long is score goals from the blueline. It’s tough to get some goals from back there and they just sat back and let us shoot them from back there. We didn’t get to the front of the net good enough to get rebounds. I thought Buffalo State did a very good job of handling the rebounds and they packed it in and we just jammed at it instead of pulling it to the side and putting it upstairs into the net.”

Buffalo State got a power play goal of its own to take a 2-1 lead into the second period. In what appeared to be a set play, Mike Ansell passed the puck from the right point to the slot area for a waiting Michael DeMarco who redirected it past the goaltender.

Buffalo State scored two more goals early in the second period to take a 4-1 lead. Burke got his first of the night with a rush down the ice and a shot from the right face off circle. The defenseman put his stick in front of it to block it, but only managed to deflect it which caused the goalie to lose sight of it.

Jeff Mok scored with a high sailing shot from the point that fooled the goaltender. At this point, Potsdam repeated a move from the night before — replaced its goaltender. This time it was an opposite change as Rob Barnhardt came into replace starter Vince Cuccaro.

Potsdam had a power play in the last two minutes of the period and even pulled its goalie the entire time for an extra attacker. However, it was unable to take advantage of the situation as the Bengals continued to play hard nosed penalty killing.

Potsdam again employed that move when Buffalo State was hit with two successive penalties in the third period. First, Richard Curtis got called for a five-minute major for high sticking. Then, Cody Cole was sent off for cross checking. With a two-man advantage, Potsdam pulled Barnhardt for yet another attacker to make to a six-on-three.

Despite a ton of pressure, Buffalo State stuck to its game plan — packing it in down low and leaving it to Sean Sheehan to stop the long shots. Finally, Sean O’Connell cleared the puck all the way down the ice. It was on target for a unique shorthanded goal.

Potsdam did eventually score a power play goal, but with the more normal five-on-three, during those penalties. Ryan Trimble shot it through a very crowded goal mouth, finding a spot between the goalie’s skate and the post.

Burke rounded out the scoring with a two-man advantage power play goal of its own.

Sheehan made 38 saves for the win.

Buffalo State ends the season at 11-12-1 overall, but most importantly is 8-6 in league play and heading for the playoffs for only the second time. Buffalo State will travel to Plattsburgh, where the Bengals won earlier in the season, for the play-in round.

Potsdam fell to 6-7-1 in the SUNYAC (7-13-4 overall) and will travel back to western New York facing Fredonia just a week after losing to them last night for the two-game play-in series.

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