GENEVA, N.Y. — Hobart scored more shorthanded goals than power-play goals and killed off an early five-minute major, enabling the Statesmen to defeat visiting Potsdam, 5-2.
The five-minute major proved to be the key moment in the game, but not the way most would have figured.
The Bears came out flying, and jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead at the .58 second mark against the number nine team in the nation. Connor Treacy as the trailing man picked up a loose puck left by Luke Beck, quickly shooting it past Keith Longo on the near side.
At 7:53, Daniel Organ was called for a hitting from behind major and a game misconduct. At this point, the Bears had everything going for them. Seven minutes later, they had everything going against them and would never recover.
Less than two minutes after the start of the power play, Potsdam made a terrible mistake that enabled Hobart to tie the game. Travis Crickard, getting a rare start in net, got the puck in the corner. He then passed it out to the middle to Greg Lee.
Unfortunately, even though the pass was a good one, Lee had trouble handling it. The puck ended up on Aleksey Koval’s stick with Crickard still in the corner. Koval scored perhaps his easiest shorthanded goal of his career.
Afterwards, despite Potsdam applying a lot of pressure, Longo turned away shot after shot with kick save after kick save, and, when he left a rebound for easy pickings, Potsdam was unable to get to it.
“I don’t think we showed up with the right focus, and we got a slap to wake up and we did and killing that off, it did good for us that way,” Hobart coach Mark Taylor said. “Anytime you are not good on your power play for five minutes, then it definitely deflates you a little bit, especially if you dwell on it. I thought it helped us and definitely getting the shorthanded goal helped us.”
“It was tough,” Potsdam coach Aaron Saul said. “Our power play struggled a little bit this weekend. To get a power play early like that is always a great opportunity, but we didn’t bury our chances we had, and they came down and got a shorthanded goal, and that gave them a lot of momentum.”
Less than a minute-and-a-half later, Hobart took a 2-1 lead on a world class shot. Shawn Houde received a pass from Jason Merritt and one-timed a slap shot that zipped into the upper corner on the near side. Crickard, or for that matter any goalie in the world, never stood a chance.
After demoralizing Potsdam by outscoring them on a major penalty, 1-0, Hobart topped that with a goal while two men down with 36 seconds left in the half.
Nick DeCroo skated the puck alone into the Potsdam zone. The Bears, despite having two extra men to defend, appeared to sit back and give DeCroo room. He took advantage of it, beating two more players making his way to the front of the net. Now, with players draped over him, he beat Crickard with a soft shot.
“Nick’s done a great job for us,” Taylor said. “He’s one of those guys that can carry someone on his back and get what he wants.”
“It took the wind out of our sails especially giving up the second shorthanded goal on the five-on-three really put us down and out,” Saul said.
At the start of the second period, Potsdam had a new goaltender, Rob Barnhardt.
“I went with Travis because he’s been great the last couple of weeks in practice, and I figured I wanted to give him a chance before the semester break,” Saul said. “I just thought he didn’t play great, but it was more a motivational thing for our team to change up our goaltenders.”
The Bears did come out in the second and played hard, but couldn’t score. However, they also held Hobart off the scoreboard.
“I challenged the team in between periods and they came out and I thought had a great second period,” Saul said.
“We knew they were going to play hard,” Taylor said. “The reputation that we want to have is we’re going to come for 60 minutes. It doesn’t matter if we’re up by six or down by two, we want to play the same game. The more you play the right way the better you are going to be doing.”
Hobart got back into the groove as Jordan Zitoun scored twice sandwiched around a Potsdam tally.
The first came three minutes in when a shot went wide, bounced off the boards, came out the other side where Zitoun fired it in as Barnhardt did not move over in time.
Potsdam tied it up at 5:27 as Lee was given plenty of time behind the net with the puck. The time allowed him to find Steve Plancey who worked his way alone in front of the net. Plancey easily one-timed it past Longo for his first collegiate goal.
The final goal came on the powerplay thanks to two consecutive cross-ice passes that found Zitoun all alone at the backdoor with an unguarded net.
“Unfortunately, right now we are just beating ourselves,” Saul said. “We’re making mistakes we shouldn’t make and everytime we make a mistake, it ends up in the back of our net.”
“He played very good,” Taylor said. “He made some real key stops. The part that I like was that first goal, it kind of got caught up in our goalies’s foot, the shot he might have been screened on, and after that he shut the door pretty loudly. That’s a great time for a goaltender. The funny first goal was quick, and sometimes that can rattle people.”