BUFFALO, N.Y. — Fredonia has struggled putting the puck in the net. They went seven consecutive scoreless periods before finally notching a goal 18 seconds into the second period tonight. Ironically, that was the only goal they ended up needing, though Neal Sheehan got a hat trick just to make sure, as Pat Street stopped 26 shots for a 3-0 shutout over host Buffalo State.
“What we did tonight was a start,” Fredonia coach Jeff Meredith said. “That was a huge win for us. We generated a lot of opportunities, although we didn’t get a lot of goals off those pucks going to the net, we generated a lot of pucks to the net, people going hard after them. I see that as a positive.”
After the teams twice traded power plays in a scoreless first period which saw a slight edge to Buffalo State, the Blue Devils wasted no time breaking the ice in the second period.
Getting the puck to the net was the key, when Kraig Kuzma flipped it back to Neal Sheehan who redirected it over the stick of Sean Sheehan. Kyle Bozoian got the other assist.
Again the teams twice traded power plays to no avail.
The third period saw the most penalties called, though the game did not get any rougher. In fact, Meredith, who was extremely disappointed with his team’s discipline the prior weekend and sat out a number of players, was happy this time.
“I was pleased,” he said. “We had to do what we had to do. I really have to take my hat off to the guys who played tonight. They really worked together as a team and played together.”
It also saw Pat Street step up to save Fredonia a number of times.
First, the crossbar came to the rescue as Joe Curry hit it just after a Buffalo State power play ran out early in the final period. Later, during another power play, Justin Merritt had two golden opportunities from the right point. The first one, Street gobbled up in his chest. The second one went just over the net. Street continued to frustrate the Bengals until Buffalo State started taking penalties again. Two in a row, in fact, that resulted in a two-man advantage.
Fredonia didn’t waste it at 13:16. With the puck loose in front of the net and the goaltender down, a Buffalo State defender put his hand over it and covered it up. However, knowing this would be a penalty, he immediately pushed it out but not far enough way.
Neal Sheehan was right there to pick it up. He backhanded it over the outstretched leg of the goaltender. For the second time, the forward Sheehan beat the goaltender Sheehan. Colin Sarfeh and Steve Albert got the assists
Late in the game with the Bengals’ goalie pulled, Street came up with his biggest save of the night. A point blank shot with an open side of the net was snatched away just in time by Street.
“Street played well,” Meredith said. “Goaltenders have not been an issue. That save that he had right at the end there, he’s had a couple of those a game. He’s got a lot of confidence and he’s really focused. I’m proud of him. I think he was a huge lift for our hockey team tonight, especially early on.”
Neal Sheehan completed the hat trick with an empty net tally with 24 seconds left in the game. Sarfeh got his second assist of the night.
This was a big turnaround for Fredonia who not only were shutout in both games last weekend, but had lost the past three.
“We had a really crappy week,” Meredith admitted. “Back to the Potsdam loss and then two losses on the road, it was a crappy week. Everybody was in a bad mood. For us to go out tonight to shake that and get a big win like that is huge for our guys and says a lot about their heart and their character.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ledger, the Buffalo State coach, Nick Carriere was so incensed with his team’s play, he locked himself and the team in the locker room for a very long talk. The door remained close for at least half an hour, and then some.
Both teams have off for two weeks until they resume play on Friday, December 1, both with conference games.
Fredonia, who is now 2-3 in the SUNYAC and 4-4-1 overall hosts Geneseo.
Buffalo State is also home against Brockport as the Bengals are also 2-3 in conference. They are 3-7 overall.