BROCKPORT, N.Y. — A partial power failure at the Tuttle North Ice Arena in Brockport 2:01 into the game caused a 10-minute delay, but Buffalo State’s Sean Sheehan created a power failure of his own as he stonewalled Brockport in a 3-0 shutout.
The win clinched a playoff spot for the Bengals for the second consecutive year under two-year coach Nick Carriere, and only the third time in school history.
“It was the Sean Sheehan show,” Carriere said.
Sheehan needed to be perfect as his team was outshot, 35-25, including 15 shots in the third period. Worse, Buffalo State gave up numerous odd man rushes and breakaways, especially in the second period.
“I thought we controlled the game,” Brockport coach Brian Dickinson said. “Our guys had the better of the Grade A chances. Sean Sheehan is an All Conference goalie for a reason.”
It didn’t matter what Brockport threw at Sheehan, he was stopping them all. Whether it was long shots or scrambles in front, straight on shots or deflections, screen shots or open blasts, power plays or even strength, Sheehan turned every one away with kick saves, glove saves, and at times getting any part of his body to deflect the puck away. And to top it off, Sheehan got help from his best friend as Brockport fired a shot that beat the goalie but it clanged off the post at the buzzer.
“He played great tonight,” Carriere said. “He’s probably the only reason we got the win tonight. He was acrobatic.”
As Sheehan was doing his thing, Buffalo State scored the lone first period goal at 13:35 after a scramble on the Bengals’ first power play. Greg Van’t Hof made the initial save on a long shot, but couldn’t find the rebound. He laid on his back trying to keep the puck out, but Mike DeMarco was finally able to whack it home.
Brockport had their chances in the first period, including two heartbreaking misses. Chris Brown got a rebound behind the goalie off to the side, but his shot went through the crease. Gordon Pritchard was able to walk in close during their first power play, ripping a shot that clanged loudly off the goalpost.
With seconds left in the opening period, John Gleason had a breakaway. He had plenty of time to make plenty of moves, but Sheehan stayed with him and made the save.
The second period was filled with Buffalo State mistakes, but Sheehan bailed them out each time.
“We turned the puck over way too much,” Carriere said.
While Sheehan was making all those saves, his teammates finally gave him a bit of a cushion at 13:41. On a quick rush, Jason Hill shot it wide to the right of Van’t Hof. The puck bounced hard off the boards and came out to the left of the goalie. Van’t Hof never knew it bounced that hard back, and Travis Whitehead had no problem one-timing the rebound into the unguarded side of the net.
“I thought he played pretty well,” Dickinson said of Van’t Hof despite letting up two goals. “He made two to three saves when we needed him.”
Buffalo State played tighter and more disciplined defense in the final period, yet Brockport was still able to bring the game to Sheehan.
“The third period — I thought we had a lot of momentum,” Dickinson said.
That momentum was stopped in the waning minutes when the Golden Eagles took back to back minors. The game was put away with 47 seconds left when D’Arcy Thomas scored an empty netter on a soft shot as he crossed the blueline.
Despite the win, Carriere knows his team has to improve for the final two games. “We have to play better,” he said.
As for Brockport, they are now playing to stay in a playoff spot. “We’re playing to get in. We’re essentially playing playoff games now,” Dickinson said.
Buffalo State (11-10-2, 5-6-1) heads down I-390 to play Geneseo Saturday night. The Ice Knights are coming off a 4-2 victory over Fredonia which puts the Bengals in fourth place, a home ice spot for the playoffs.
Brockport, now 6-10-7 overall and 2-5-5 in league play, stays home to try and clinch a playoff spot when they host Fredonia.