CORTLAND, N.Y. — The game may not have counted for conference points, but it still turned into another typical Fredonia-Buffalo State game. Perhaps it was fitting that the SUNYAC Challenge committee made sure these two teams faced each other in the predetermined schedule format.
“These two teams have a pretty good rivalry,” Fredonia coach Jeff Meredith said. “They play each other tight.”
A goal per period was all the fans got to see because they played it so tight, and perhaps it was appropriate that a lucky bounce would decide the game. That bounce came Fredonia’s way in the third period on the winning goal to top Buffalo State, 2-1.
A shot from down low on the left side by James Muscatello bounced off a defenseman and then rolled over the goaltender’s shoulder and into the net at 6:17 to give Fredonia a 2-1 lead that stuck.
“Just a dribbler off one of our defensemen and off the goalie’s shoulder and in,” Buffalo State coach Nick Carriere said.
“We were fortunate to get a bounce there,” Meredith conceded.
It appeared at first that the game might be a high-scoring affair. It didn’t take long for the first goal to be scored, but that was the only goal of the first period. The power-play goal came during Buffalo State’s only power play in the opening period at 1:37.
A well-executed passing play left Kody Van Rentergem out to dry. Joe Curry, from the left side, passed across the ice to Jason Hill, sitting down low by the crease. Though Hill had a good shot and the goalie slightly out of position, he decided to pass it across the crease to Cory Park. Park was even more open and by now Van Rentergem was completely out of position. Park easily one-timed it into the unguarded net.
The second period was more of the same for these two familiar sparring partners, as Fredonia got the tying goal at 12:47 just after killing a Buffalo State power play.
Bryan Goudy found himself with the puck deep in the zone on a two-on-none. He used his teammate as a decoy as he slowly skated towards the net, and then used the near post to bank in the shot for an unassisted goal.
“We gave them a two-on-oh which typically is not in the coaching philosophy of a hockey club,” Carriere said.
Van Rentergem was called upon to maintain the tie when he was forced to stop a point-blank shot a few minutes later. He came up big again when Travis Whitehead had the puck at the doorstep with 27 seconds left in the game, but Van Rentergem made the save.
“He has a lot of poise, and that’s where he did a good job,” Meredith said of his freshman goalie who wound up with 23 saves for the win.
“How many one-goal hockey games have we played against Buffalo State?” Meredith asked rhetorically.
Zach Grasley, another freshman goaltender, made 26 saves in the loss.
“I thought we played a lot better this afternoon than we did yesterday afternoon,” Carriere said. “We got a lot of chances. We’re hitting crossbars. We’re hitting posts.”
Buffalo State (0-2) returns home for a contest against Hobart on Friday.
Fredonia (1-1) stays on the road for a pair of games at Utica next weekend.