GENESEO, N.Y. — The math is real simple. In 2007, Plattsburgh went on a 8-1-2 streak. When they scored two goals, they lost. When the scored three goals, they tied. When they scored four or more goals, they won. They are now 9-1-2 in 2007 because they scored eight goals against Geneseo.
Plattsburgh defeated Geneseo, 8-2, in the SUNYAC Semifinals. Plattsburgh moves onto the SUNYAC championship for the 19th time in the 22 years tournament play has been used to decide the SUNYAC title.
Plattsburgh scored early and often, as the first period was anything but a feeling out period. Plattsburgh scored two quick goals followed by the teams exchanging scores, giving the Cardinals an initial 3-1 lead. And the score could have been higher.
“We dug a hole early on, and we couldn’t get out of it,” Geneseo coach Chris Schultz.
The action started when Sebastian Panetta took a tripping penalty 29 seconds in. On the subsequent power play, Riley Hill scored when the Ice Knights’ defense broke down. He took advantage of a loose puck in front of the net after his teammate had a wide open shot that Derek Jokic stopped. Hill easily knocked in the rebound.
Plattsburgh took a 2-0 lead at 5:50 on a fluke goal. Ward Smith shot from the left point. The puck bounced off of two sticks on its way, deflecting high into the air. It sailed over the head of Jokic, and then down into the net. It looked more like a long soccer goal than a long hockey goal.
Geneseo got one back on virtually a power play at 11:28. This time, Plattsburgh defense broke down, and the Ice Knights were able to control the puck behind the net. A pass to the front to a wide open Panetta, and he had no trouble putting it into the unguarded portion of the net.
There was a delayed penalty being called as well as a Cardinal already in the box. By the time the puck went into the net, the penalty was over by a second, and the goal negated the delayed call. Nonetheless, Geneseo had cut the lead.
Plattsburgh wasn’t deterred. At 14:53 their rookie sensation put the Cardinals back up by two. His slapshot from the right point sailed past Jokic on the near side as he appeared to be screened. It was Plattsburgh’s second man advantage goal in their first two tries.
Geneseo played well, but penalties held them back. In fact, Plattsburgh scored five power play goals in the game.
“I thought we played great in the first period and a half, but we kept taking penalties,” Schultz said. “We couldn’t put the puck on the net during our powerplays. I said before, we live and die by our special teams.”
The Cardinals used those penalties in the second period to score again, this time on a five-on-three. Nick Rolls’ snapshot from the blueline breezed by Jokic.
Joey Wilson scored a rare even strength as his rebound shot barely went over the line as Jokic got a piece of it.
Geneseo finally scored their own power play goal with a two-man advantage. Chris Kestell shot a quick one-timer that beat a screened Chris Molinaro.
Geneseo tried to mount a comeback in the third period.
“I told the guys as soon as the defenseman get the puck to quickly move up ice and for the forwards to storm the zone,” Schultz said. “That didn’t work.”
It didn’t work because Plattsburgh just may be the hottest team in the SUNYAC, and perhaps in the country.
Ryan Busby scored his first of two consecutive goals midway through the third period on a quick shot. His second goal came late in the game while the Cardinals had a lengthy power play thanks to a fighting major and game disqualification to Steve Sankey. Busby was left alone at the backdoor, and easily tipped in the pass.
Ryan Silveira wrapped things with a tally under two minutes left.
After the game, the seniors for Geneseo (16-10-0) went back on the ice and huddled with their coach.
“They built it,” Schultz said of this special class. “They set the landscape for Geneseo hockey. They carried themselves with class and dignity.”
Molinaro made 23 saves for the win.
Plattsburgh (14-7-6) has now scored 17 goals in their two playoff games and average nine goals a game in their last three. Surprisingly, Plattsburgh is going to get to host the championship game against Fredonia as the Blue Devils stunned Oswego, 3-2, in overtime.