BUFFALO, N.Y. — After 82:18 of hockey, Fredonia’s Wil Barlow scored the game’s third and final goal in double overtime to lift his Blue Devils to a 2-1 thriller over Buffalo State in a SUNYAC Play-In game.
“Obviously, what he did right there is a memory of a lifetime,” Fredonia coach Jeff Meredith said.
The play started innocently enough. Fredonia dumped the puck in, and Buffalo State went into the corner to retrieve it. However, a misplayed pass behind the net and then an ill conceived rushed clearing attempt resulted in the puck ended up on Bryan Goudy’s stick.
He quickly passed it over to an open Barlow in the high slot area. Barlow immediately let rip a shot that blew past Sean Sheehan.
“I thought the puck went out the other side, and I didn’t see it until the shot,” Sheehan said. “My reactions weren’t quick enough. It was my fault.”
Sheehan may have felt bad about the goal, but it was his exceptional goaltender along with his counterpart on the opposite side of the ice, Kevin Amborski, that caused the game to last so long. Each team took 43 shots at the net, the majority of them top class opportunities, and many more shots that just missed the net or were blocked by aggressive defenders. It was up to Sheehan and Amborski to save their teams time and time again.
“Sean played a great hockey game,” Buffalo State coach Nick Carriere said of his senior. “He’s a great young man, and we’re going to miss him dearly.”
“We decided on Kevin after the Friday night Buffalo State game,” Meredith explained his choice of goalies. “He was very strong out there.”
Both goalies did a very good job of preventing rebounds, and when they did allow a rebound, controlling where they went. And the rare time they failed at that, their defense cleared the puck away. There were very few second chances.
It was Amborski, and many times the goal post and crossbar, that saved Fredonia in the first overtime game which saw Buffalo State outskate what appeared to be a very tired Blue Devils’ squad.
“We were just getting run over in the first five minutes of that overtime period,” Meredith said.
He had to calm his team down in the locker room after the period. “I told them you can’t be afraid of this. Don’t play this scared. I think they loosened up a bit.”
“It’s always a scary thing when you start hitting posts and crossbars,” Carriere said. “You know the hockey gods are working against you.”
“We had momentum the whole overtime and for that shot to go in was tough,” Buffalo State assistant captain Mike DeMarco said.
Fredonia came out firing in the first period. Buffalo State was able to turn the tide thanks to four straight powerplays. They did everything right on those and all subsequent powerplays, except put the puck in the net.
When Buffalo State looks at the stats afterwards, they will see a glaring zero for ten on the powerplay. And this coming after they went two for six in the final regular season game against Fredonia.
“The other night against Fredonia they pressured us a little more which makes us move the puck a lot quicker,” Carriere explained. “Tonight, they sat back, and we didn’t move the puck quickly, getting complacent which resulted in us not finding the open lanes well.”
“We were successful tonight because we stayed in the spots we were supposed to be,” Meredith explained the improved penalty killing.
After a scoreless first period, it took till 9:15 of the second before somebody finally scored. It was Fredonia with their lone powerplay goal in six attempts. Goudy made a quick cross ice pass to Kraig Kuzma who wristed it back the other way, beating Sheehan on the stick side.
The goal came seconds after DeMarco had a shorthanded breakaway. He went to his backhand, but Amborski stretched his left leg out as far as he could to stop it.
After the goal, the fast paced action ratcheted it up even more. However, the goalies were equal to the task.
The score held till the third period whereupon Buffalo State quickly tied it up at 1:14. Off the face off, which the Bengals dominated all night especially in overtime, the puck was pushed towards the net. Jason Hill skated to the front and was able to shoot it under the outstretched leg of Amborski.
At this point, it was evident that the next goal was going to win whether it came in regulation or overtime. It was also this period that saw some of the best saves of the day, including one very lucky save. With 27 seconds left in the third, the puck bounced high and off the back of Sheehan. He alertly threw himself up against the crossbar so the puck would not trickle down his back and into the net. He could have just as easily knocked the puck into the goal by this move. It would have been a bizarre way to lose the game.
In the end, perhaps the largest crowd in Buffalo State history saw a classic playoff hockey game, and gave their team a standing ovation as they left the ice.
“It was great to have a good atmosphere in the building,” Carriere said. “I think the people got their money’s worth.”
“Five periods of hockey. That’s a lot of hockey,” Meredith said. “Essentially the whole game was overtime.”
Buffalo State ends its season at 12-12-2.
Fredonia goes to 13-9-4 and now gets to travel to Oswego for a Saturday semifinal game. First, they need to get some rest.