BROCKPORT, N.Y. — It was the battle of the Eagles at Tuttle North Arena tonight as the Elmira Soaring Eagles (8-0-1) took on the Brockport Golden Eagles (3-7-1). A hungry Brockport team gave undefeated Elmira all it could handle as a back and forth game saw each team hold a lead before it ended in a 4-4 tie.
The last time these two teams met, on January 9, 2007, Brockport and Elmira also battled to a tie, that time 2-2.
“We got outworked for the majority of the game,” said Elmira coach Tim Ceglarski. “Brockport has a very good skating team and capitalized on the majority of their chances. They had some fresh legs. I don’t think we deserved the tie. They deserved the win. It was the first time all year that we didn’t show up to play sixty minutes.”
Brockport carried play through most of the five-minute overtime period but was unable to score to send the home crowd home happy.
“The guys can be satisfied that we took a very good team right to the limit,” said Brockport coach Brian Dickinson. “It was nice to have them on the run at the end and not have the feeling that we hung on.”
Brockport got off to a quick start in the first period, but it was Elmira that opened the scoring just sixteen seconds into a power play early on. Russell Smith and Nicolas Dumoulin were playing catch high in the Brockport zone when Dumoulin ripped a slapshot from the point. Ryan Arnone deflected the shot past goaltender Todd Sheridan at 5:29 to give Elmira the 1-0 lead.
However, the Golden Eagles kept up the pressure, using an aggressive two-man forecheck that eventually paid dividends. A poor handoff from Elmira goaltender Casey Tuttle to a defender was intercepted by Brockport’s Lucas Schott. Schott passed to Jason Dolgy parked at the right post, who slid the puck home before Tuttle could get over to tie the game 1-1 at 7:57.
“We came out with a lot of tenacity finally,” said Dickinson. “That has been our stumbling block. We put some pressure on their goaltender and got some pucks through for rebound opportunities.”
Elmira penalty trouble gave Brockport the opening it needed to take the lead less than three minutes later as the Soaring Eagles got tagged with a pair of penalties. Players were battling for the puck in the corner, and that drew all three Elmira defenders towards the play. Brockport was able to squirt the puck out to the slot where Chris Brown was all alone and wristed it past Tuttle for the five-on-three power-play goal at 10:13.
The Golden Eagles kept up the pressure and extended their lead to 3-1 at 14:29 when Tim Crowley poked in a rebound. Brockport sent two or three players on the forecheck throughout the first period, and the extra pressure was too much for the Elmira defenders to handle.
“We’ve got a pretty quick team,” said Dickinson. “We were trying not to give their defensemen time and space. They are loaded back there and if you give them any kind of time they are going to make a great pass.”
Then it was Brockport’s turn to be assessed a series of three penalties and Elmira converted to chip away at the Golden Eagles lead. Ryan Arnone deflected in his second goal of the game, off a shot from the point by Russell Smith, at 16:14 to score the goal.
Elmira outshot Brockport 11-9, but the Golden Eagles held a 3-2 advantage on the scoreboard at the end of the first period.
“It would have been nice to play better with a 3-1 lead in the first, but our guys are still learning how to do that,” said Dickinson.
The Soaring Eagles settled down during the second period and were more successful at dealing with the Brockport forecheck.
Elmira tied the game at 8:27 with its third power play goal of the game. Kyle Branson took a slapshot from the top of the slot that Andrew Bedford got a stick on and deflected in to the net for the score.
“Thank God our power play came through tonight because if it didn’t we would be walking out of here with a loss that we deserved,” said Ceglarski.
The Soaring Eagles took their second lead of the night at 13:39, this time with an even strength goal when Rusty Masters swatted in a rebound that Brockport goaltender Sheridan failed to cover.
Brockport outshot Elmira 11-6 in the second period, mainly due to a series of three power plays late, but the Elmira penalty killers were able to keep the Golden Eagles at bay and hold on to the 4-3 lead as the second period ended.
Brockport began the third period on the power play and converted just as the penalty expired to tie the game 4-4. Gordon Pritchard put in the second rebound at the :56 second mark for the goal.
Elmira had a great opportunity to break the tie 3:10 in to the period when Lucas Schott was whistled for a major hitting from behind penalty. The Brockport defense bent but didn’t break and killed off the penalty without any damage on the scoreboard.
Brockport got a golden chance of its own with 1:40 left in the period when Elmira was called for too many men on the ice after a sloppy line change. The Golden Eagles pressed as the third period wound down but were unable to get the game winner and the teams headed to overtime.