BUFFALO, N.Y. — The last time Fredonia played at Buffalo State, it was a year ago in the first round of the SUNYAC playoffs and the game went to double overtime. This time, it was the last game of the regular season, and thus it could not go into a fifth period.
However, these two teams still needed more than 60 minutes of hockey to settle things, 61 minutes to be exact. Just like last year, it was Fredonia that scored the overtime tally to beat Buffalo State, 2-1.
“It’s classic Buff State-Fredonia,” Fredonia coach Jeff Meredith said. “It’s a good rivalry. Both teams worked really hard. They get excited to play the game. It was a good college hockey game.”
“Part of it is my history, the fact that I coached there a few years,” Buffalo State coach Nick Carriere said. “Part of it is we’re two pretty evenly matched teams. We’re 45 minutes away. We always get geared up to play each other.”
The winning goal was the result of a quick transition, a defensive mistake, and a successfully converted two-on-one.
Carriere had the simplest description: “Defenseman made a bad decision pinching. Two-on-one. Made a pass. Shot. Far side. Put it.”
Just before that, Buffalo State had a good opportunity to score, but couldn’t get a shot on net. Alex Morton then carried the puck into the Bengals’ zone for the two-on-one with Jordan Oye to his left. Morton held onto the puck for the longest possible time, passed it to Oye, who one-timed it past Kyle Gunn-Taylor.
“You have two freshmen working on a two-on-one,” Meredith said. “Those two have really developed a real connection with each other all year long. I thought Morton did a great job holding the puck, holding till the last minute and then he dished it and Jordan put it away. They did a great job.”
Both goalies also did a superb job, which is the reason why the first goal wasn’t scored till after 46:45 of hockey. The Blue Devils were the ones who finally broke the ice.
Bryan Goudy passed it from behind the net to Richard Boyce, who was standing slightly to Gunn-Taylor’s left. Boyce stuffed it between the goalie and the near post for the 1-0 lead.
Buffalo State never considered giving up, dominating the final period.
“We just stayed the course,” Carriere said. “We outshot them 19-2 in the third period. We basically commanded the entire play of the third. We had a lot of opportunities.”
One of those opportunities paid off at 15:57 when Cody Cole controlled the puck after a faceoff. He was allowed to walk towards the net unabated. He finally took the shot, beating Kevin Amborski between the blocker and post.
Up to the third period, there may have been no scoring, but there was plenty of action, as both goaltenders had to stand on their heads at times.
In the first period, Buffalo State’s Joe Curry was fed a lead pass as he split the defense. His deflection was stopped by a great leg save by Amborski. Seconds later, on the opposite end, Oye had the same situation. Except, when he went to deflect the lead pass after splitting the defense, a Bengals’ defender from behind reached out and lifted Oye’s stick.
At the beginning of the second period while on the power play, Neal Sheehan had a great opportunity from the side of the net. However, Gunn-Taylor made a spectacular sliding save. On the next Fredonia power play, Gunn-Taylor once again had to come up big to keep the game scoreless.
Halfway through the game, Gunn-Taylor stopped a player alone in front. He did it again when Steve Rizer came out of the penalty box and got a breakaway. Rizer attempted to put the initial shot and rebound shot through the five-hole, but Gunn-Taylor closed up both times.
Late in the second Gunn-Taylor made a save by doing a complete split.
“That is one of the best games I’ve seen him play,” Carriere said of his goaltender. “He has the ability to play that way, and tonight he was definitely on.”
Meredith was equally happy about his goaltender, especially in the third.
“Kevin’s been in a lot of situations in the last couple of years to be in key moments in the game. This is just another opportunity for him to do what he does best and that’s to stand tall in those moments. I thought he did a great job. I think he handled the puck really well tonight to help us out when we couldn’t get to some pucks.”
After an even first period in terms of shots (7-6 in favor of Fredonia, though Buffalo State had more scoring opportunities), Fredonia dominated the Bengals in the second, outshooting them, 18-4.
Then came the reversal in the third, teams trading goals, and an overtime winner for Fredonia.
Ironically, because Fredonia (10-4-2, 14-8-3) beat Buffalo State (5-7-4, 10-11-4), coupled with a Potsdam upset over Plattsburgh, Fredonia will once again face Buffalo State in the SUNYAC Play-In round this Tuesday
at 7:00. This time, Fredonia gets to host. When they did earlier in the season, the Blue Devils won another one-goal decision, 4-3, on a late goal with 1:09 left.
“We get the day off tomorrow, and get right back at it Sunday and Monday,” Carriere said.
Right back at what could be another classic Buffalo State-Fredonia contest.