BUFFALO, N.Y. — Two years ago, Brockport and Buffalo State were the only two teams that did not make the SUNYAC playoffs. This year, they met in a battle for third place. After a wild finish with a slew of penalties and two-man advantage power plays down the stretch and in overtime, nothing was settled. The game ended in a 4-4 tie in Buffalo.
“All points are crucial.” Brockport coach Brian Dickinson said after his team blew a 4-2 lead, but with the tie, remains one point ahead of the Bengals.
With under five minutes to go, Anthony Lecesse and John Gleason took successive hooking penalties. Gleason also got a 10-minute misconduct for acting out the play to show the ref he didn’t do anything.
Dickinson wasn’t happy with the call either: “I thought the call on John Gleason was ridiculous. Two strong guys battling for the puck and two guys sticks go up, and we get the penalty for that.”
At one point during the 5×3 power play, Buffalo State had an open net as Todd Sheridan was caught out. However, a defender got in the way at the last second to stop the goal.
It turned out that gallant play was for naught as Buffalo State did end up scoring the goal. Joe Curry found the back of the net as the Bengals pressure was just too much for Brockport to handle. The goal came with 3:18 left.
Brockport still had an opportunity to hang onto the win, but then they committed the ultimate sin down the stretch — a penalty for too many men on the ice.
With their goalie pulled, Buffalo State once again had two extra skaters, and once again they took advantage of it. Both teams congregated along the left boards fighting for the loose puck. Finally, it came loose and sent across the ice to a wide open Jeff Mok at the right point. He quickly skated in a bit and let loose a slapshot. Jason Hill came out of that scramble along the boards and got to the front of the net in time to deflect it in. With 27 seconds left, the game was tied.
“We didn’t do a good job of tying up the front and allow them not to get to the puck, and they were able to get guys to the front, and get the slapshots and deflect some in,” Dickinson said.
“We try to play a pretty simple game plan,” Buffalo State coach Nick Carriere said. “We try to get pucks to the net. Crash it. Create traffic.”
“It was frustrating that we couldn’t finish it off,” Dickinson said. When we were up 4-2, I thought we were in total control of the game. Unfortunately, penalties caught up to us. When you give a team that has guys that they have, you’re giving them chances to get it in. We have to continue to work hard and not put us in a position where the officials can make calls against us.”
The Golden Eagles did have a golden opportunity in overtime when Buffalo State committed two successive penalties — Travis Whitehead for hooking and Dennis Sicard for tripping. However, despite some close calls, the Bengals defended the power play according to plan and hung on for the tie.
“We try to give them shots on the outside and take away everything on the backdoor and take away any kind passing option and allow them to shoot from the outside,” Carriere said of his penalty kill.
“It would have been nice to get one in on the last power play, but a point on the road, we’ll take it,” Dickinson said.
Brockport got the 4-2 lead with an early third period goal. Geoff Schweikhard, after multiple efforts, finally knocked the puck past Sean Sheehan from a scramble in front.
Brockport never fell behind and twice had two-goal leads. They initially took the lead in the first period on a power play. Sheehan made an excellent save through a screen on a Chris Koras shot from the point. However, the rebound went right out to the slot area. With a defender draped all over him, Gordon Pritchard was still able to take a turnaround shot that stayed on the ice and nicked the post on it’s way in.
Buffalo State tied it late in the first on a shot that also nicked the post on the way in. D’Arcy Thomas put it in from a close range scramble.
Brockport took the lead again midway through the second period after initially missing a chance when they smacked the post. After a Buffalo State giveaway, Tim Crowley went in on a breakaway right up the middle. He made three moves before finally backhanding it over Sheehan. Shortly afterwards, Brockport again hit the post.
Penalties continued to be called throughout the game. In total, each team took 14 minor penalties. Buffalo State went 3 for 11 on the power play with Brockport 2 for 12.
“We took a lot of penalties,” Dickinson said. “Some frustrating penalties. Some lazy penalties.”
“The stick penalties are what burn me,” Carriere said. “Those are due to lack of effort.”
The Golden Eagles took their first two-goal lead with a two-man advantage, though technically the first penalty expired just as the puck went into the net. This caused Brockport to lose the second power play as well.
The goal was scored thanks to some nice puck movement, taking advantage of the undefended ice, forcing the Buffalo State defense to chase the puck. Steve Seedhouse scored on an easy one-timer from the backdoor.
Buffalo State got one of the goals back late in the period on, what else, a power play. Again, off a scramble in front with lots of opportunities and lots of saves by Todd Sheridan, Hill finally put it in.
One of the Bengals’ top players, Jason Hill scored two goals and one assist, but also got three penalties, two of which resulted in Brockport goals. Nonetheless, he was the first star of the game.
“He’s a skilled hockey player,” Carriere said. “We have to keep reinforcing that if the penalties he’s taking are lazy stick penalties then we have to address that. If their effort type penalties, like a charge or late hit, then I have no problem.”
Sheehan made 31 saves, and Sheridan made 25 saves.
With Fredonia beating Geneseo, the Blue Devils are now tied with Brockport for third place as they face off next at Fredonia. Thus, once again, Brockport (2-2-2,4-6-3) gets to play for third place, and an opportunity to move into a tie for second place.
That will be determined when Buffalo State (2-3-1,3-7-1) hosts Geneseo. Buffalo State could wind up anywhere from third to seventh place when the night is out.