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College Hockey:
Potsdam Buries Geneseo

— Potsdam came into their game at Geneseo hoping to hang onto a playoff
spot. They left with renewed hopes of hosting a playoff game. After a
slow start, the Bears scored four straight goals to defeat Geneseo, 4-1.
Combined with losses by Cortland and Buffalo State, Potsdam is now tied
with both those teams for fourth place.

“Obviously, it’s a huge win for the program,” Potsdam coach Aaron Saul
said. “Our goal was to make the playoffs this year. We’re not there
yet, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Character win
for our guys.”

It didn’t start out that way as Geneseo also desperately needed a win to
stay in the playoff hunt. The Ice Knights came out and quickly got on
the scoreboard at 1:50 thanks to an early penalty by Potsdam.

Geneseo controlled the puck with crisp passing and it paid off when
Trent Cassan from behind the net found Mathieu Cyr in front at the
opposite post. Cyr had no trouble one-timing it past Rick Miller who
could not move over in time.

Another early penalty by Potsdam gave Geneseo another opportunity, but
this time the Bears killed it off. However, Geneseo consistently kept
the puck in the Potsdam zone, eventually outshooting the Bears in the
first period, 11-3.

“I think it’s hard to travel,” Saul said. “We’re right in that time
period where it’s four hours, whether we should go the night before or
the day of. You try to get here as early as possible for the guys to
get their legs warmed up, but it’s still a four hour bus ride and
obviously it took us a period to wake up from that.”

One of those three shots turned the game around at 13:27. Potsdam
started what looked to be an innocent rush, but Mitch West’s shot fooled
Derek Jokic. It was West’s second collegiate goal, but his second in a
row, the last coming a few weeks ago against Manhattanville before he
was knocked out and missed the games in between.

“Looks like he’s got the scoring bug,” Saul joked. “He doesn’t remember
the first one, so I’m glad he remembers this one. Obviously, he brings
so much more to the team than scoring, but he’s playing great, he’s good
down low, and he’s really working at it, and it’s good to see a guy like
that get a goal. Hopefully, he can make it three in a row tomorrow night.”

In fact, Potsdam returned a number of players to the lineup coming off
injuries, and that turned out to be the difference.

“We finally got some guys back in the lineup,” Saul said. “Three out of
the four goals tonight were from guys who haven’t been in the lineup the
past two to three weeks. We’re excited about that and happy they are
back in the lineup.”

Two of the other goals were scored by Luke Beck, the first being the
lone second period tally as Potsdam came out strong to reverse the game.

“We had a good talk after the first period,” Saul said. “We knew we
were lucky to come in tied 1-1. They had all the momentum, and we get
one goal and that changes everything. Our guys decided that they were
going to finish their checks and play a little harder, and I thought we
dominated the second period.”

Beck scored at 5:55 on a slow moving three-on-one breakout. Connor
Treacy brought the puck into the zone down the left side. His shot was
saved by Jokic, but the rebound came out the other side knee high. Beck
was there to bat it in.

The Bears just missed scoring six minutes later in a wild scramble in
the crease.

Geneseo beefed up their game in the third period and had a two-man
advantage for a full minute midway through the period. However, Miller
stopped everything thrown his way. Though he did get some help from a
goaltender’s best friend — a Geneseo shot from the side smacked the
inside of the opposite post and somehow did not go in.

“I thought he played a great first period because we came out kind of
slow and sluggish and Rick really held us in there and did a great job,
and obviously on the five-on-three he was great and made some
unbelievable saves,” Saul said.

Soon after the penalties were over, Potsdam scored the back breaker on a
two-on-none breakaway. Greg Lee kept the puck, went to his backhand,
and made Jokic make the first move before putting it past him.

Beck got his second of the night on another odd-man rush, this time a
three-on-one. Treacy passed it off to Beck who didn’t waste the
opportunity.

“Luke is a really tough kid,” Saul said. “Played with a lot of pain.
It was pretty evident he couldn’t go, so we held him. But he targeted
this weekend to be back, and he’s back in a big way.”

Miller ended the game with 34 saves.

Potsdam (5-6-3, 8-11-4) goes to Brockport Saturday night to face a team
that just got eliminated from playoff contention in a 4-2 loss to
Plattsburgh.

“You never know,” Saul said in what he expects from Brockport. “It’s
always a tough situation when you’re an athlete and your season is over
going in and still having to play some games. We expect still a hard
fought battle. These guys played together for four years and I’m sure
they want to go out on a winning note. We’ll be ready for them.”

Geneseo (5-9-0, 6-16-0) must win their last two games for any hope of
making the playoffs, and then they need some help from at least one of
those teams tied for fourth. It won’t be easy for the Ice Knights as
they host Plattsburgh next.

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